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Some thoughts in Italy

Sept.5,2012

Via Zabarella, Padova, Italy

Yesterday, Meg and I decided to visit the Basilica of San Antonio di Padua. It definitely lives up to its glorious reputation. I cannot imagine how they managed to craft such fine architecture filled with rich and intricate designs. From gold plated ceilings, edges, walls to pillars to finely carved statues and paintings of saints, angels, the blessed mother, Christ – everything crafted to its finest detail.

We arrived there around 6pm, just in time for a novena. The experience was just so nostalgic. Was transported through time by hearing the church pipe organs and the priest sing an old chant probably dated some hundred years ago. We saw the tomb of Saint Anthony which was located at the side of the church and is occassionally converted to an altar for events such as the 6pm novena.

When one goes deeper into the hallways church, one would find a chamber of the relics of St. Anthony’s tongue, vocal chords and some of his organs. They were ornamented around by golden chalices, sculptures and religious designs, each divided into 3 sections, secured by a separating glass. I honestly did not know how I would react seeing the blackish preserved tongue, but I thought it was astonishing to see the actual parts of a saint. Imagine, to set eyes on the actual tongue of St. Anthony. Ok fine, it was a bit weird to see the black tongue hehe…but, you know, it somehow makes history more real to you. You realize that these people whom we only read and learn about in books or in school actually existed at one point in the world’s timeline. I thought, after having seen the historical and artistic grandeur of the Church, here we are right now in the present, not only looking back in time but actually connecting to it and realizing that all these things – religion, art, music, architecture, BEAUTY, are not just remnants of the seemingly deceased past, but are in fact very much alive and still flourishing in this day and age.

When you actually feel your connection to our history, it makes you feel really small, and insignificant, much like when you look at the multitude of stars on the vast sky at night. Like you wonder if youll ever live up to its greatness and you wonder if you can ever be as good as the masters of the past. And you realize how little you know. You wonder how everything came about, and you get awed by the intellect, skill and capabilities of man. But I think, more overwhelming than that, you’re able catch a glimpse of God, to whom all these art and beauty are exalted to. It is compelling to conclude, that God, or whatever you conceive Him to be, is the heart and life of all great art.

Leaving the Chiesa, I am left only wondering, what will the future generations think of this current era we represent? What part are we weaving in the tapestry of time? What am I contributing to? Or am I just a vestigial entity roaming around Earth? Maybe we all are.And maybe one day each one of us, regardless of our own worldly success or failure, will be forgotten in time. Perhaps our glory in the future is uncertain, but even if this may be true, I am reminded and uplifted by the words of one of Brazil’s greatest poets, Vinicius de Moraes:

“E no entanto e preciso cantar,

mais que nunca e preciso cantar.”

“And yet, we must sing,

more than ever we must sing.”

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