GREETINGS FROM CARMELA'S CUCINA,
I spent the long winter months with my nose in a book, hoping that winter would flee and that spring would arrive. And after finishing two of Ken Follet's books,(www.ken-follett.com) each over 1,000 pages in length I have discovered that spring has finally sprung! The two books, Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are about the building of great cathedrals.
Since, I lead culinary tours of Italy and because I travel their frequently with my family, I can boast that I have been in some of the world's most beautiful, renowned and impressive churches, cathedrals and basilicas in this world. I have enjoyed the Tridium and Easter in St. Peter's in Rome as well as experiencing an audience with Pope John Paul the II with 32 cadets of St. Thomas Academy in St. Peter's Square. I have visited all 5 major churches in Rome and minor ones as well. I have been to the Duomo and Santa Maria Novella in Florence and small places of worship. And have visited the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi while leading tours. In Sienna I have taken countless clients to the Church of St. Catherine and viewed her remains. We have been part of the vigil known as Volto Santo in Lucca that leads us into the magnificent Cathedral every Sept. 13th.
With friends I have toured the church at Knock in Ireland, where the Blessed Virgin appeared to young children and have visited the church of St. Bridget as well. In the states I have been in many beautiful churches, the church at the University of San Diego, Sacred Heart Cathedral on the campus of Notre Dame, St. John's on the Creighton University Campus are all great and magnificent structures.
But until recently I never thought about how they were built. This morning my husband, Bob and I decided to go to the Bascilica of St. Mary's (www.mary.org) in Minneapolis for Mass. I have been to Masses at this beautiful church many times, have attended weddings there and our 3 sons were confirmed there as well. But today, it was as if I saw that church for the first time. The grandeur, the beautiful stained glassed windows, the marble statuary, the incredible crucifix, it was all new to me. And then I thought about those who built these beautiful places of worship. How did they do it? The time the labor, the expense, to honor our Lord and God.
Ken Follett's books take place in the 1100 and 1300's. How back then in those ancient times did they have the where with all to build the magnificent buildings, structures, pillars that we call our churches today?
In the past I have travelled over the great pond to see these beautiful churches. I have enjoyed tours given by guides that have explained the details of the buildings to our groups. But today I drove just 20 minutes from home and after reading these two books, I actually took in the meaning of what it must have taken to actually build a place of such splendor for us to worship in. I will never take these holy places for granted again. I thank God to be lucky enough to be able to visit his holy home and I thank the builders for doing God's work.
I hope that you too, might take a weekend off from your usual visit to your church and visit the Basilica of St. Mary or perhaps the Cathedral in St.Paul and really look at their beauty, drink it in, savor it, thank God for his holy home where we can find refuge in these troubled times. You don't have to go as far as I do to relish these beautiful structures, they are in our own back yard.
And for next winter I whole-heartily suggest you read Ken Follett's two novels, but for now get out and enjoy the greatest cathedral God has ever built, the out-of doors. For after our long dead winter, the hope of spring and new life is now upon us. Let us give thanks.
Carmela Tursi Hobbins