Update #6: Homeward Bound

Friday, July 30, 2010 1:30 PM Comments (1)

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Wednesday afternoon, another papal basilica, Saint Mary Major. The smallest of the papal basilicas, it is also the most architecturally ancient, and possibly the most beautiful (always bracketing St. Peter’s as another experience entirely). The building dates to the fifth century (from the reign of Pope Sixtus III), and its fifth-century mosaics of Old Testament scenes and the life of Christ may be the sacred works of art that speak most powerfully to the devout Catholic in me, as opposed to the art student, in all of Rome. (The art student in me would probably go for the Sistine Chapel.)

I’ve seen St. Mary before, but with a guide you learn things...READ MORE

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Update #5: In Rome with Peter and Paul

Thursday, July 29, 2010 12:13 PM Comments (2)

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At last, the much delayed conclusion to my Italian pilgrimage blogging, in two parts (final installment tomorrow).

We began the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul at Saint Peter’s Basilica; fittingly, we ended it with a visit to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.  In fact, Peter and Paul met us again and again in Rome, much as Saint Francis had met us everywhere in Assisi.

What’s more, the two apostles were nearly always together in Rome. They stand side by side in Saint Peter’s Square directly in front of the basilica: on the left, the much-photographed statue of Peter holding the golden keys with upraised hand and index finger extended; on...READ MORE

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Update #4: Catacombs of St. Callixtus!

Friday, July 09, 2010 9:51 AM Comments (3)

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Tuesday afternoon after the papal Pallium Mass, the itinerary includes the catacombs of St. Callixtus and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. I missed the catacombs on my first trip to Rome, so I’m really looking forward to this.

The visit to the catacombs begins with a brief introduction to the history and iconography of the period and the site. While the pagan Romans traditionally practiced cremation, the early Christians, in continuity with Jewish belief and custom refocused and refined in light of the resurrection of Jesus, placed a high premium on burying the dead in preparation for their rising. Because land was limited, starting in the second century...READ MORE

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Update #3: Pallium Mass at St. Peter’s!

Saturday, July 03, 2010 3:39 PM Comments (6)

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It isn’t until I actually see the procession of 38 new metropolitan archbishops walking up the center aisle at Saint Peter’s Basilica at the start of the Pallium Mass a little after 9:30 Tuesday morning, and hear the cheers from pilgrims of the 26 countries represented—Africa, Asia, the Americas, Europe—followed by the Bishop of Rome, Benedict XVI, that it really hits me: This is the greatest visible display of the Church’s catholicity that I have ever seen, and perhaps may ever see.

It is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. My daughter Sarah and I are in Saint Peter’s Basilica, on the very spot where St. Peter stretched out his hands and gave his...READ MORE

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Update #2: From Assisi to Rome

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 8:33 PM Comments (8)

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In my first update I mentioned someone comparing Assisi to Minas Tirith, Tolkien’s imaginary tiered city on a hill. What I didn’t know at the time is that unlike Minas Tirith, where the lowest level is the widest circle and the royal house is at the crown, Assisi’s crown is at the bottom: beneath the lower Basilica of St. Francis, in the crypt where Francis’s tomb is situated in the midst of four of his famous followers.

Not that the crypt is literally the lowest point in Assisi. As far as I know, though, it’s the lowest notable landmark. It’s immediately below the upstairs-downstairs Basilica of San Francesco, the lower basilica adorned by frescoes...READ MORE

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Update #1: Romeward Bound!

Monday, June 28, 2010 7:10 PM Comments (4)

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It’s 5am Monday morning in Italy. I’m sitting on a rooftop veranda outside my hotel room in Assisi overlooking the sleeping countryside. The moon is high. Later today we’ll be in Rome.

Our trip got off to a bad start. The story begins early Thursday afternoon at the Alitalia terminal at Newark Liberty Airport, where my daughter Sarah and I arrive to discover very long, seemingly unmoving lines and the news that our 5:30 flight was delayed at least seven hours. Over the next few days we heard that (a) the pilots were on strike, (b) they were watching the World Cup, or (c) issues from the previous day had affected numerous flights that day. I still...READ MORE

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Romeward Bound!

Thursday, June 24, 2010 3:07 PM Comments (3)

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In a few hours, my daughter Sarah (age 15) and I will be on a plane headed to Rome. Our archdiocese is leading a pilgrimage, and we’re on it.

Some readers may remember that I was in Rome once before last year, on a press junket for Angels & Demons. They gave us the official Angels & Demons tour of Rome, walking in the footsteps of Robert Langdon from church to church as he unraveled the path of the Illuminati.

The idea of tourists going to the Eternal City to see St. Peter’s and other locales specifically through the lens of a badly written, anti-Catholic conspiracy novel is pretty depressing (although not as pathetic as Twilight fans heading to...READ MORE

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UPDATE: Hollywood admits its originality problem!

Is Hollywood literally out of ideas?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010 8:51 PM Comments (44)

UPDATE: Hat tip to Ross Douthat for highlighting an intriguing recent NYMag.com piece on Hollywood’s originality problem. Some highlights:

With Sequels and Reboots Failing, Hollywood (Finally) Puts Out a Desperate Call for Original Material

Conventional wisdom in Hollywood of late has said that you should stick to familiar brands when making movies. It could be a sequel or an adaptation of an old TV show, board game, toy, or crumpled candy wrapper, just as long as people already know it. So how’s that working out? In a summer season where only three out of the fourteen major releases so far have come from a new idea, attendance is down 13.3 percent from last season … That’s why studio...READ MORE

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About Steven D. Greydanus

SDG
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Steven D. Greydanus is film critic for the National Catholic Register and Decent Films, the online home for his film writing. He writes regularly for Christianity Today, Catholic World Report and other venues, and is a regular guest on several radio shows. Steven has contributed several entries to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, including “The Church and Film” and a number of filmmaker biographies. He has also written about film for the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy. He has a BFA in Media Arts from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and an MA in Religious Studies from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook, PA. He is pursuing diaconal studies in the Archdiocese of Newark. Steven and Suzanne have seven children.