Color Your World Almond

Avenue of the Sphinxes

Avenue of the Sphinxes, Luxor, Egypt

An avenue of sandstone sphinxes stretches over 1.5 miles from the Temple of Luxor to the Temple of Karnak. At one time, over 1300 statues lined the road, which was used annually for the Opet Festival honoring the ancient Egyptian god Amun, his wife Mut, and their son Khonsu. The the sacred pathway was used as early as the 15th century BCE.  The pharaoh Nectenabo I (380-362 BCE) built the existing avenue and lined it with sphinxes bearing his name. Most of the sphinxes have human heads, but some earlier statues near Karnak have rams heads. In 2004, the Egyptian government began a massive excavation and restoration project to restore the road and its sphinxes, many of which had deteriorated, been buried in the sand, or used for other projects by the Romans and others.  Large sections of the avenue linking the two temples have been completed.

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A Single Flame

A Prayer For Notre-Dame

Votive Candle, Notre-Dame de Paris, Paris, France

Votive candle in a side chapel at Notre-Dame de Paris, Paris, France.

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We Mourn for Our Lady of Paris

Le Monde est en Larmes

Notre-Dame de Paris

Avant le feu

 

 

 

Written On Stone

Lighting Isis

Relief Carving, Temple of Isis, fromthe Island of Philae, now on Agilkia Island, Aswan, Egypt

The Temple of Isis is one of the structures in the original Temple of Philae. Submerged after the construction of the first Aswan dam in 1902, the Temple of Philae was salvaged in the 1970s, following completion of the Aswan High Dam. The temple compound was drained, dismantled and reconstructed on a new island (Agilkia) in a reservoir of the Aswan low dam. While not on Lake Nasser, Philae is considered a major success as part of the rescue of Nubian monuments and sites. Philae was said to have been one of Egypt’s most beautiful temples. It drew visitors well into the 20th century, even after parts were flooded. Unfortunately, submersion in water and river silt has removed the painted surfaces.

The relief carvings of gods/godesses and pharaohs were deface during the period Philae was converted to a Christian church.

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Unexpected Surprises in 2018 #2

An Ode to Santa Joana Principesa

She began life as a princess in 1452, died as a Dominican nun in 1490, and was beatified two centuries later. Even though she has never been canonized, she is known in Portugal as Santa Joana Principesa, or Princess Saint Joan. More properly, she is the Blessed Joan of Portugal.

Today, the Dominican Convent of Jesus, in which Joana spent her religious life is part of the Museum of Aveiro.  Established in 1458, the convent became state property after the 1834 dissolution of religious orders in Portugal. The contemporary galleries of the museum contain a large collection of religious art, most of which belonged to the Convent of Jesus and other area convents. The convent became a museum in 1911.

Princess Joana of the House of Aziz was the daughter of King Afonso V of Portugal. As a young woman, she longed for the religious life. Because she was a royal princess and in line for the throne, her father and brother refused. They wanted her to marry to establish a political alliance and, if needed, produce an heir. She refused all offers.  In 1472 she entered the Convent of Jesus in Aviero. She lived a life of religious devotion and was admired even during her life; her royal connection added to the prestige of the convent.

Baroque painting from the Life of Santa Joana cycle, by Manuel Ferreira e Sousa, 1729. Joana and other characters are dressed in 18th-century costume while depicting 15h century events.

Portrait of Principesa Santa Joana, 1471. The portrait was painted while Joana served as regent during the absence of her father.

The Dominicans were a cloistered order and what little contact they had with the outside world took place in the Convent Gateway. Goods and messages, and occasionally an infant, were passed through the wheel. Visits with family and siblings took place through a larger screen allowing some visual contact.

Separation took place even during religious services. In the Church of Jesus, the convent’s small church, screens separated the nun’s choir stalls, on both levels of the church, from the nave of the church.

Screen looking down into the Church of Jesus from the Upper Choir Stalls

Chapter House and Upper Choir Stalls

Because of her royal status, however, Joana was allowed to visit court and often became embroiled in palace politics. Even while she lead a religious life, her father and brother continued to try to arrange a marriage for her, including a proposed alliance with Richard III of England.

A revival of interest in Santa Joana occurred in the 18th century.  The Life of Princess Santa Joana painting cycle, on the side walls of the Baroque Church of Jesus, is signed by the Portuguese artist Manuel Ferreira e Sousa. The paintings date to 1729.

Painting of Santa Joana Principesa, Church of Jesus, 1729

Azulejo tiles, Scene of Santa Joana arriving at the convent, Church of Jesus

Constant expansion and improvements to the Convent in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries hide most of the Gothic origins of the complex.

Gothic door frame surrounded by Baroque decoration

Church of Jesus in the Dominican Convent of Jesus

Convent Cloister Courtyard

Joana died in 1490 at the young age of 38. Some sources say she was poisoned by an vindictive woman at court while on a visit. In 1734 a room at the Convent was decorated with gilded wood framing paintings of her life, including a scene of her death. The cross she is said to have been holding when she died is displayed adjacent to the painting.

Santa Joana Deathbed Scene, 1734

Cross said to have been held by Joana at her death

Before Joana died, she asked to be buried in a simple way, and her wish was granted. After her beatification in 1693, however, permission was given to created an ornate, inlaid Italian marble tomb. The lower choir stalls area, converted to hold the tomb, was also decorated with inlaid marble, stone, and gilded wood. The project took 11 years to complete. The screen separating the lower choir stalls from the main body of the church was retained. Santa Joana tomb was and is a pilgrimage site for those who look to Santa Joana.

Tomb of Santa Joana, Lower Choir, Church of Jesus, Convent of Jesus

From the information I have found, there is no specific miracle, incident or action that resulted in the veneration of Santa Joana. She was admired for her resistance to marrying, for her service to her religious community, and for her humility. The fact she was royalty must have also played a role. Veneration of Santa Joana continues today. The City of Aveiro marks May 12, the anniversary of her death, as municipal public holiday.

 

Unexpected Surprises in 2018

Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption

View of the main grotto and the grotto complex, with the local Catholic church in the background.

On my road trip in July/August 2018, I looked for rural backroads attractions off the main tourist routes. The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa was a fabulous find, even though it took me well out of my way on a day my final destination was Minneapolis, Minnesota. Regardless of your religious affiliation or lack thereof, it is a fascinating place just in terms of its construction and materials.

Father Paul Dobberstein, a German immigrant, began construction of the grotto in 1912 and continued building for 42 years. He collected materials for 14 years before beginning construction. According to iowabeautiful.com, the Grotto is “a complex of nine different grottos in West Bend, Iowa, each one portraying a different scene from the life of Christ. The fourteen Stations of the Cross are also depicted. The grottos were built using stones and gems from all over the world. It was started in 1912 and now covers nearly a whole city block. The materials used in its construction are considered to be the world’s most complete man-made collection of minerals, fossils, shells, and petrifications in one place.”

Rocks, Minerals, Gem Stones, Shells, Fossils, and More

The vast collection of minerals and semi-precious stones used in the Grotto’s construction include petrified wood, crystals, malachite, azurite, agates, geodes, jasper, quartz, topaz, calcite, stalactites and stalagmites, shells, turquoise, and coral.  Father Dobberstein and his assistant, Matt Szerensce, spent countless hours sorting and arranging the materials into harmonious units. Until 1946, when an electric hoist was put into use, all construction and lifting was done by hand. Construction continued after Father Dobberstein’s death in 1954.

The Grotto is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the largest man-made grotto in the world and contains the largest collection of precious stones and gems in one location. The statues found throughout the complex, including the replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta on the summit, are carved from Italian marble

Stations of the Cross

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