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Our Trip to Italy
(April 08-18, 2018)


Entrance to the Sistine Chapel lined with walls of hanging tapestries.

"Massacre of the Innocents" by Tommaso Vincidor

S. Michael in Monte Gargano Apparei.
The Apparition of St. Michael the Archangel in Monte Gargano, Italy.

Inside the Sistine Chapel with ceiling and walls painted by Michelangelo.

The Sistine Chapel is named after his commissioner, Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471-1484), who decided to have a large room built where the Cappella Magna once stood. The Cappella Magna was a mediaeval fortified hall that the Papal Court used for assemblies. At that time, it was made up of about 200 members: a college of 20 cardinals, representatives of religious orders and important families, a choir, and a large number of laymen and servants. The Sistine construction was also to be a defensive structure, warding off both the Medici family, because of the continuous tension between the rulers of Florence and the Pope, and Muhammad IIs Turks, who at that time were threatening the western coast of Italy. Its construction started in 1475, during the Jubilee Year proclaimed by Sixtus IV, and ended in 1483, when on August 15th the Pope solemnly inaugurated the new Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The project, designed by Baccio Pontelli, included the use of a third of the height of the existing mediaeval walls.

According to some scholars, the dimensions of the hall (40.23 metres in length, 13.40 metres in width and 20.70 metres in height) are copied from Solomons great temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.

The main entrance to the Chapel, located opposite the small entrance used today, is preceded by the imposing Sala Regia built for papal audiences. Arched windows light the chapel, while lunettes and triangular webs join the ceilings barrel vault with the side walls. A choir once used the stalls on the right, while the Papal Court sat on the stone benches along three sides of the hall, excluding the altar side. An elegant 15th century balustrade surmounted by candelabra divides the area destined to the clergy from the area used by the public; at the end of the 16th century the balustrade was pushed back to make the former area larger. The splendid 15th century mosaic floor was copied from mediaeval models and is completely original.

After the architectural structure was completed in 1481, Sixtus IV summoned various Florentine painters to work in the chapel, including Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli, Signorelli and Umbrian artists such as Perugino and Pinturicchio.

(Source: Internet)

Saint Gregory the Illuminator (c. 257  c. 331) is the patron saint and first official head of the Armenian Apostolic Church. He was a religious leader who is credited with converting Armenia from paganism to Christianity in 301. Armenia thus became the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion.

A Papal guard by the door to St. Peter Basilica.

Voil, Saint Peter's Square

View from front of St. Peter's Basilica

Entrance to St. Peter Basilica 

The "Pita" by Michelangelo in St Peter's Basilica, Vatican.

Christina Alexandra D.G. Svecorum, Gothorum, Vandolorumque Regina
(Christina Alexandra, Queen of the Swedes, Goths and Wends)

The Queen, who converted to Catholicism and abdicated the throne, is shown in a gilt and bronze medallion, supported by a crowned skull. There are three reliefs on the urn: Christina relinquishes the throne of Sweden to embrace Catholicism (center), the scorn of the nobility (right), faith which triumphs over heresy (left).

Source: Wikipedia

Christina (18 December [O.S. 8 December] 1626 19 April 1689) reigned as Queen of Sweden from 1632 until her abdication in 1654. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. At the age of six, Christina succeeded her father on the throne upon his death at the Battle of Ltzen, but began ruling when she reached the age of 18.  

Christina is remembered as one of the most educated women of the 17th century. She was fond of books, manuscripts, paintings, and sculptures. With her interest in religion, philosophy, mathematics and alchemy, she attracted many scientists to Stockholm, wanting the city to become the "Athens of the North." She was intelligent, fickle and moody; she rejected what the sexual role of a woman was at the time. She caused a scandal when she decided not to marry[10] and in 1654 when she abdicated her throne and converted to Roman Catholicism. She changed her name from Kristina Augusta Wasa, adopting the name Christina Alexandra.

At the age of 28, the "Minerva of the North" relinquished the throne to her cousin and moved to Rome. The Pope described Christina as "a queen without a realm, a Christian without faith, and a woman without shame. Notwithstanding all that, she became a leader of the theatrical and musical life and protected many Baroque artists, composers, and musicians. 

Being the guest of five consecutive popes, and a symbol of the Counter Reformation, she is one of the few women buried in the Vatican grotto. Her unconventional lifestyle and masculine dressing and behavior have been featured in countless novels, plays, operas, and film. In all the biographies about Christina, her gender and cultural identity play an important role.

The 14-year-old-Christine as queen

Body of Pope Saint John XXIII in St Peter's Basilica.
Xc Đức Thnh Gio Hong Gioan 23 trong Vương Cung Thnh Đường Thnh Phr.

Santvs Longinvs Martyr.

Juliana belonged to the noble Falconieri family of Florence. Her uncle, Alexis Falconieri, was one of the seven founders of the Servite Order. Under his influence, she decided at a young age to follow the consecrated life. After her father's death, she received c. 1285 the habit of the Third Order of the Servites from Philip Benizi, then Prior General of that Order. She remained at home following the rule Benizi had given her until her mother's death, when Juliana and several companions moved into a house of their own in 1305. This became the first convent of the Sisters of the Third Order of Servites. Juliana would serve as Superior until the end of her life.

The Servites' dress consisted of a black gown, secured by a leather girdle, and a white veil. Because the gown had short sleeves to facilitate work, people called the sisters of the new Order "Mantellate." The sisters devoted themselves especially to the care of the sick and other works of mercy. It is said that

she would often fall in to long moments and hours of ecstacy... She was daily caring for the sick in the streets, homes, and in hospitals and was known for using her own lips to suck out the infection of her patients open sores without fear of contracting any illness. Truly a magnificent act. Juliana directed the community of Servite Tertiaries for 35 years and was more of a servant to her subordinates than a mistress.

A putative miracle mentioned in the liturgical texts for her feast day, is said to have occurred at Juliana's death. At this time, unable to receive Holy Communion because of constant vomiting, she requested the priest to spread a corporal upon her chest and lay the Eucharistic host on it. Shortly thereafter, the host disappeared and Juliana died, on June 19, 1341. The image of a cross, just like the one on the host, was found on her breast.

Immediately after her death she was honored as a

Servite Order was approved by Pope Martin V in the year 1420. Pope Benedict XIII recognized the devotion long paid to her and granted the Servites permission to celebrate the feast of the Blessed Juliana. Pope Clement XII canonized her in the year 1737, and extended the celebration of her feast day (June 19) to the entire Church. Juliana is usually represented in the habit of her Order with a host upon her breast.

St. Peter's feet worn off due to many visitors touched them for blessing.

Papal guards