Saturday, June 20, 2009

Trevi Fountain - Italy

You can hear the fountain long before it comes into view. Walking with other tourists, I could almost feel the growing anticipation and excitement as we neared our destination – and once there, the sight did not disappoint a visitor. I remember a collective gasp as we rounded the corner and the full view of the Trevi fountain appeared before our eyes. It is truly a magnificent sight and one I shall never forget. It is great to see during the day, but I feel it’s best seen at night. It is absolutely charming and almost magical!

The following information was provided by:

Construction of the Fountain
In 1732, Pope Clement XII commissioned Nicola Salvi to create a large fountain at the Trevi Square. A previous undertaking to build the fountain after a design by Bernini was halted a century earlier after the death of Pope Urban VIII. Salvi based his theatrical masterpiece on this design. Construction of the monumental baroque fountain was finally completed in 1762.

The Trevi fountain is at the ending part of the Aqua Virgo, an aqueduct constructed in 19 BC. It brings water all the way from the Salone Springs (approx 20km from Rome) and supplies the fountains in the historic center of Rome with water.

The Fountain
The central figure of the fountain, in front of a large niche, is Neptune, god of the sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell, pulled by two sea horses. Each sea horse is guided by a Triton. One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other one restive. They symbolize the fluctuating moods of the sea. On the left hand side of Neptune is a statue representing Abundance, the statue on the right represents Salubrity. Above the sculptures are bas-reliefs, one of them shows Agrippa, the girl after whom the aqueduct was named.

Tossing a Coin
The water at the bottom of the fountain represents the sea. Legend has it you will return to Rome if you throw a coin into the water. You should toss it over your shoulder with your back to the fountain.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book Signing at Barnes and Noble, Aurora.

Most people understand the temperamental weather of the Rockies. During springtime, we can often experience sun, rain, hailstones and tornadoes, all in one day! Yesterday was just such a day! Even so, there was a steady stream of customers milling around the Barnes and Noble store at the Southlands Shopping Center in Aurora, Colorado. Last weekend the shopping center was hit by a tornado and, although some damage was done, I’m glad to say the mall has reopened and ready for business.

As usual, the staff at Barnes and Noble was great and well prepared with signs advertising the book signing. Robert Aikens did a wonderful job of promoting the event, and Jack Broekstra did a super job having everything prepared for me and gave announcements during the two hour book signing. A big “thank you” to everyone at the store.
Photo left to right: Jack Broekstra, Assistant Manager and Elizabeth Wallace.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Greensted Church, England and the Leper's Squint

It is believed the tiny church of St. Andrew at Greensted, Essex is the oldest wooden church in the world. Located one mile from Chipping Ongar and approximately 10 miles from Epping, it appears more like a residential home than a place of worship.

The church has a rich and interesting history dating back to 1013 when an ancient chronicler recorded that the body of St. Edmund had been held overnight at Greensted Church before being taken to Bury St. Edmund, Suffolk. There are several items dedicated to St. Edmund inside the church including a beautiful stained glass window and a wood carving of a wolf guarding a severed head. A small opening in the oak wall on the north side of the church is believed to have been a Leper’s Squint, although some now think it may have been a holy water stoup.

There is an intriguing legend attached to St. Andrew’s Church. Following is an excerpt from my book Extraordinary Places...Close to London. The chapter on Greensted is located on page 49.

"He was crowned King of East Anglia on Christmas Day in the year of 855, at the tender age of 15 and died when he was only 29 years old. King Edmund was a good and virtuous ruler who cared deeply for his people but he perished at the hands of Ivar the Dane because he would not renounce his Christianity.
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (a detailed account of the history of England covering 1000 years from Roman times to the middle of the 12th century) “…a great heathen force” of Vikings arrived in 865 on the eastern shores of England known as East Anglia. They lost no time in conquering every village in their path; ravaging and pillaging until nothing was left. Then came a threatening message to King Edmund from Ivar, the captain of the Danes, “You will surrender your possessions and your people to me or die.” The king summoned his most faithful bishop for guidance but his suggestion that the king should flee was unacceptable. “…Alas bishop, I would rather die fighting so that my people might continue to possess their native land.” The bishop informed the king that word had just come from the battlefields that his armies were defeated, all was lost and surrender or flee were the only options.

The Chronicles tell us King Edmund was captured, tortured unmercifully and suffered unmentionable terrors. The Dane offered Edmund his life if he would renounce Christ. He would not, and was lashed until he almost died. With every lash he cried Jesus’ name infuriating his captors. Finally, he was tied to a tree and killed by a hail of arrows so that “…hardly a place on his body was not covered with arrows…” He was then beheaded. As a final insult, the pirates hid King Edmund’s head in the forest so that it could not be buried with his body.

Soon after King Edmund’s death, the Britons and some reformed Danes began to regard him as a saint because of his courageous life and honorable death. A shrine was erected and pilgrims traveled from all over Britain to honor this great man.

It is thought the final resting-place for the remains of Saint Edmund is a town called Bury St. Edmunds, in Suffolk, but some believe his remains are in the churchyard at St. Andrews’s church."