One thousand, four hundred twenty-nine years ago today, Pope St. Gregory the Great was elected to the chair of St. Peter.
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.
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.
…Across town, at the Basilica di Santa Anastasia, a painting of the Council of Trent hangs on the back wall, above the main entrance.
Just to the left, a little chapel of Our Lady has this magnificently evocative painting:
…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.