Sunday, August 19, 2012

San Bernardino da Siena, Verona

A picturesque Franciscan church in Verona is hidden in the area between the old Roman ruins and the glorious San Zeno basilica. It's the Chiesa Francescana di San Bernardino da Siena.

What the church looks like after you discover how to get there

As I approached the church, I entered by the most discreet door ever.

That's it, behind the van

Inside is a courtyard that has many fine frescoes.

Fresco of Francis watching over his spiritual disciples

Again, Francis watches over from Heaven

The main door has a nice simplicity with only a few statues adorning it.

Front door, with St. Francis receiving the stigmata at the top

Inside are the typical items you'd find in any church: baptismal font, organ, pulpit in the side of the wall. Wait, what?

Baptismal font

Organ on the wall

Side altar and side pulpit?

The church has many glorious side altars.

Altar to St. Anthony, another popular Franciscan saint

The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven

Altar of the Crucifixion

Glorious ceiling of one of the side altars

The main altar also looked quite impressive, but I could not get close as a concert was being performed. I did get some dirty looks from the audience. I ignored them.

A large singing group kept me from getting too close (or a better picture)

On my way out, I noticed a rather ornate stand with the lectionary open to the day's readings. I liked the dove to the left but the candle to the right is a little too reminiscent of Adam and Eve's apple.

Too bad I can't read Italian

Outside, I discovered the regular gate for the church, which is neither super-glorious nor super-humble like the way I came in.

A nice gate

Who was Saint Bernardine of Siena?

Bernardino was born in Siena in 1380 of a wealthy family and was orphaned at six years of age. He was raised by pious aunts. In his youth he joined the Confraternity of Our Lady and worked at a hospital. He served there during a plague and eventually gave away all his riches and became a Franciscan. He became a famous preacher and inspired many reforms. When he preached, people would make bonfires and put small objects of temptation (like cosmetics or playing cards) on them, the origin of the phrase "bonfire of the vanities." He also preached devotion to the holy name of Jesus, encouraging towns to put up the initials "IHS" in a sunburst on their churches and civic buildings. His role was critical in the restoring the Order of the Friars Minor in Italy. He died in 1444 and was canonized by Pope Nicholas V in 1450.

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