It Fell Like A House of Cards — St. John’s Cathedral, Napier NZ.

“It fell like a house of cards.”  That’s what an eyewitness said when the brick Waiapu Anglican Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist collapsed in an earthquake in February, 1931.  There was a service going on inside at the time, … Continue reading It Fell Like A House of Cards — St. John’s Cathedral, Napier NZ.

Merry Christmas !! Pictures from Bethlehem.

Christmas Day — a good day to post pictures of Bethlehem.  The focal point of any visit to Bethlehem is Manger Square.  It is a pedestrian zone bordered by the Church of the Nativity, the Mosque of Omar, the Palestinian Peace Center and a wonderful falafel shop which also serves freshly squeezed orange juice.  Star Street, Nativity Street and Manger Street converge on the square. Some claim that the Church of the Nativity is the oldest Christian worship site in the world.  It was built during the rule of Constantine on a site selected by his mother, St. Helena.  She … Continue reading Merry Christmas !! Pictures from Bethlehem.

Christmas Eve, Shepherds’ Fields outside Bethlehem.

It’s Christmas Eve.  In the news we have constant reminders that “Peace on Earth” is still a hope not a fact.  This is evident at Shepherds’ Field outside Bethlehem where you can easily see the security apparatus that meanders around the hilltop where shepherds first heard “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” (assuming the angels sang in Latin).  The Franciscans control this hilltop and when we were there in 2010 we listened to them field questions from tourists looking out over the fields asking what exactly they were seeing.  In one of the pictures in this post you can see an Israeli … Continue reading Christmas Eve, Shepherds’ Fields outside Bethlehem.

Barcelona Nouveau and Gaudi

I became interested in Art Nouveau living in Bratislava and within an hour of Vienna where Nouveau and Secession buildings captured my fancy.  Having seen them I needed to see some of the buildings of Antoni Gaudí .  The first 8 pics here are Gaudi buildings, including the Holy Family Cathedral, Sagrada Família, a must see in Barcelona and Casa Batilo and Casa Mila. I took these pictures in 1999 on a very early digital camera that had limited storage capacity.  I find it hard to imagine that I can shoot thousands of pictures now on one card.  Early digital cameras … Continue reading Barcelona Nouveau and Gaudi

Crucifixion and Resurrection in Jerusalem.

You need a lot of faith to visit holy sites in the Holy Land.  The “upper room” where Jerusalem tells you the Last Supper took place was built by crusaders in 1099.  The gate the tour guide tells you Jesus entered on Palm Sunday was built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 1500s.  There are three sites that claim to be the Jesus baptism site.  There are at least two Mt. Sinai’s.  And so it is with the crucifixion and resurrection.  There are two sites claiming that honor in Jerusalem. You can see a real contradiction in styles when you … Continue reading Crucifixion and Resurrection in Jerusalem.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Metz

Modernist Marc Chagall, cubist Jacques Villon, and tachist Roger Bissière are all there, mixed with art from the Gothic, Renaissance and Romantic periods.  It’s the play of light on the works that I find so fascinating.  They are the stained glass windows in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Metz.  Gothic does away with the need for structural walls, allowing artists to work in walls of glass.  The cathedral soars with light coming through colored glass, creating shadows and shafts.   Outside the light plays against the exposed structural members, the flying buttresses.  At night the outside is floodlit to stunning effect. Pictures from … Continue reading St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Metz

King Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

The only way to get into the King Hassan II Mosque, if you are not a Moslem, is on a guided tour.  It’s worth it.   The mosque is more than two football fields long and one wide.  I think St. Peters in Rome could easily fit inside if the roof were retracted for the dome.  It has a carved wooden roof of cyprus that is retractable so in good weather you can pray outside.  There is a glass floor under part of the mosque, which is built on and, in parts, over the Atlantic.  The floor gives us a glimpse … Continue reading King Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

Mt. Nebo, Jordan

When Moses got to Mt. Nebo he could see the Promised Land, but he could not enter. The mountain has a commanding view down into the Jordan Valley and across.  It is more than 2.600 feet above sea level and the Dead Sea at the foot of the Jordan Valley is more than 1,400 feet below sea level.  That’s quite a drop and quite a view.  You can just see the gold glint of dome from the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. You can also see Jericho, the Dead Sea and practically all of modern Palestine and Israel.  I … Continue reading Mt. Nebo, Jordan

Salt Pope, Krakow, Poland

I’m not sure of the theological meaning, but Pope John Paul II has been turned into a pillar of salt.  In Genesis it was Lot’s wife who became a saline pillar.  Her sin was looking back at Sodom, the home from which she was being evacuated by angels before its destruction. The Wieliczka mines in Krakow Poland are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We took a bus to the salt mines and went on the tour.  We went down about 438 feet, although the mines go down much further than that, and walked for about three kilometers underground.  The wondrous … Continue reading Salt Pope, Krakow, Poland

Yankee Stadium

If my parents could see me they would die a second time.  Last night Suzi and I went to Yankee Stadium and I rooted for the Yankees.  I was thrilled when the Yanks popped 4 homers and scored 9 runs in the second inning.  I cheered when the scoreboard showed Baltimore losing to Tampa Bay giving the Yanks sole possession of first place with two games left in the season.  At the end of the game I sang along with Frank Sinatra, long gone but still beloved , in a chorus of “New York, New York.” We had planned to … Continue reading Yankee Stadium

Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

This is the first of my posts on Holy Land sites.  Over the months there will be more.  We cannot be sure where most things in the Bible actually happened because, at the time, people didn’t put down GPS markers.  For instance, there are two competing sites of the crucifixion in Jerusalem.  The Via Dolorosa has changed routes several times.  The upper room touted as the site of the Last Supper is in a building erected in the 11th Century – AD.  This is one of three sites claiming to be the place Jesus was baptized.  If you’re looking for … Continue reading Bethany Beyond the Jordan.

Khor Virap Monastery, Armenia

Khor Virap is the Armenian monastery closest to the sacred Mt. Ararat.  Because of a combination of fog and cloud we were only graced with fleeting glimpses of the mountain and never got its picture.  But when we got to the Monastery a man pushed pigeons into our hands (he said they were doves) and told us to release them with our fondest dreams so they could fly off to the holy mountain (which is in Turkey, behind barbed wire and watchtowers that the clouds did not obscure from the monastery).  Apparently, by releasing doves we were following the example … Continue reading Khor Virap Monastery, Armenia

Sacré Coeur in Casablanca.

The French Cathedral Sacre Coeur (Sacred Heart Cathedral) is at the heart of French Colonial Art Deco Casablanca.  It was built in 1930, abandoned for Catholic worship in 1956 on Morocco’s independence.  It sat derelict for years and reopened as an art gallery just before I got there in 2005.  It is built in a mix of Gothic and Art Deco styles with Islamic touches.  The stained glass is set in cutwork geometric patterns much like the decoration in a mosque.  Paul Tournon was the architect for this church turned art gallery.  It serves its new purpose well.  For more … Continue reading Sacré Coeur in Casablanca.