Saint Zeno and Co.

basilica san zeno
Basilica di San Zeno

One thousand, four hundred twenty-nine years ago today, Pope St. Gregory the Great was elected to the chair of St. Peter.

In his Dialogues, Gregory recounted a miracle worked in Verona by the city’s patron saint, Saint Zeno.

The River Adige flooded the city. The water level rose twenty or thirty feet. The flood rose almost to the clerestory windows of the church housing Saint Zeno’s remains.

san zeno crypt

But no water entered the church.

The flood waters inundated the city for some days; the people praying in the church got thirsty. So they opened the doors and reached into the flood to get some water to drink, then closed the doors, and returned to their prayers.

Six years ago, the bishop here decided to have scientists authenticate the relics of Saint Zeno. They analyzed the bones, and everything checked-out. They even used computer imaging to try to simulate how he might have looked.

san zeno skull

…Across town, at the Basilica di Santa Anastasia, a painting of the Council of Trent hangs on the back wall, above the main entrance.

san anastasia council of trent

Just to the left, a little chapel of Our Lady has this magnificently evocative painting:

blessed mother of the church

…Italians from all over the country come here to kiss their boyfriend or girlfriend at the “Casa di Guilietta,” a clever invention of the local tourist industry, which is booming.

This evening I chatted with someone who lives just outside the real-life city of Mantua (the town to which Shakespeare had the Prince of Verona banish Romeo).

Romeo speaks of “Verona walls” in the play. They no longer stand, except a few of the ancient gates.

…I learned today that twentieth-century Catholic theologian Romano Guardini was born here in Verona. Pope Francis wrote his doctoral dissertation about Guardini…

…In my humble opinion, the premier beverage they offer here is a bracing distillation of grape skins, seeds, and, stems (the leftovers from wine making), called grappa. It’s Italian moonshine, and it’s wonderful.

…Tomorrow I will visit St. Ambrose and St. Charles Borromeo in Milan, good Lord willing. A dopo.

2 thoughts on “Saint Zeno and Co.

  1. That image of the BVM is stunning, I wonder if those gathered into her protection are images of actual people or historic figures from the painters time.
    Thanks for sharing what you are seeing as you travel!

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