Pisa & Florence

When the wind blows hard, it requires some effort…

But without wind, no problem…

Germans, Mexicans, Filipinos, and plenty of Americans taking each other’s pictures in such poses.

Seems unfair to the tower, which still does its duty: holding the bells aloft, to summon Christians to Mass in this magnificent Duomo next door.

St. Ranieri presides over the south trancept.

Pisa’s “Palazzo Blu” has a collection of interesting paintings like this one, artist unknown…

Which brings us to another town, further up the Arno…

Arno in Pisa
Arno in Florence

The cloisters of Florence abound with paintings of St. Thomas Aquinas.

This last one adorns the wall of a cell in the Museo San Marco, where Fra Angelico produced the most breathtaking collection of paintings I have ever seen, for the spiritual benefit of his Dominican brothers.

One cell has this painting, which has inspired me for over twenty years. I never knew where the original was, until now…

The ghost that haunts Fra Angelico’s San Marco most intently, however, is Fra Geronimo Savanarola. He ruled as prior at the time of his arrest and execution in the Piazza della Signoria.

I will have more to say about Savanarola when I get home and have a real keyboard to work with. I think he is both less of a hero and less of a villain than his lovers and his haters make him out to be. He was, without a doubt, an eminently learned Thomist.

The thing he did that I find most charming: he appealed to an ecumenical council against the corrupt Borgia pope and proposed that Florence replace Rome as the Holy See.

(Savanarola wasn’t as kooky as you might think there; an earlier pope lived for a decade in Florence–and presided over an ecumenical council there– earlier in Savanarola’s 15th century.)

…I did not realize until I saw the statue in person that Michelangelo’s David holds a stone in his right hand–to use against Goliath, I suppose.

On the south side of the Arno, you can see this crucifix by the same artist.

Visiting St. Thomas III: Where He Died

In the infirmary, second floor of this old building at Fossanova Abbey. There’s a little chapel there now.

Fossanova is about an hour’s drive from Thomas’ birthplace in Roccasecca. Not exactly close, since he didn’t ride a horse and traveled exclusively on foot.

But considering that the man had walked some 9,000 miles in his life, had lived in Paris, and was in fact on his way to Lyons, France (on foot) when he fell deathly ill, the moment came remarkably close to Aquino, and the mountains he gazed upon in his youth.

When I visited Ars years ago, a saint who had previously intimidated me by his austerity of life (John Vianney) became human to me, when I saw the very confessional where he sat for hours on end, and the ramshackle little kitchen where he boiled his potatoes.

Now, a saint whose mind has intimidated me suddenly became more human, because I have seen the mountains where he grew up, and where he died.

The ridges of Lazio could move you to contemplate the Five Ways, to be sure. That’s just the beginning of what they can make you contemplate.

The Concluding Chapters of the Summa Contra Gentiles

We face judgment immediately after death:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 91

The blessed souls remain fixed forevermore on the good:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 92

The damned souls remain fixed forevermore on evil:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 93

The souls in purgatory do not change their wills, either:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 94

The reason why we cannot change from good to evil, or vice versa, after death:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 95

The Last Judgment:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 96

The cosmos after the Last Judgment:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 97

St. Thomas wrote many books. Among them, the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles have the most-monumental status.

St. Thomas did not live to complete the Summa Theologica. He died while working on Part III, and his student completed the task, using St. Thomas’ earlier writings.

St. Thomas did, however, write the entire Summa Contra Gentiles himself. Book IV is the final book of the SCG. So: we have reached the conclusion of the most-monumental work of St. Thomas that he himself also reached.

Praise the good Lord.

Reading Book IV aloud has done me enormous good. Hopefully it has done you some good, too, dear reader/listener.

Not sure when I will record more podcasts, or what they will include. Let me know if you have any thoughts.

Five SCG Chapters on Resurrected Bodies

tombstone cross

We will rise in bodies of the same nature as we have now, flesh and blood…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 84

But with a different disposition: incorruptible and immortal…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 85

…With perfect agility and freedom from suffering, for the blessed:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 86

With a place in the heavens:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 87

We will rise male and female, as we are now.

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 88

adam-and-eve-in-the-garden-of-eden-giclee-print-c12267346

SCG: We Will Rise Immortal

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 82

In the last part of this chapter, St. Thomas presents two cosmological arguments about the impossibility of an endless cycle of life and death for human beings.

Contemporary cosmologists would no doubt consider St. Thomas’ scientific ideas quaint. But I think he actually achieves a more-profound insight.

St. Thomas includes the perceiving mind within his overall conception of the cosmos. The mind or soul, which can know and understand, exists as a greater being than any material thing in motion, including the earth, sun, and moon–whose motions relative to each other give rise to our conception of time passing.

liturgical-cycle

Objections to Faith in the Resurrection, and Answers

signorelli_resurrection
The Resurrection by Signorelli, in the Brizio Chapel in the Duomo in Orvieto

First St. Thomas outlines reasonable objections to Christian faith in the resurrection of the body…

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 80

Then he explains how those objections do not, in fact, stand in the way of the Christian faith:

Summa Contra Gentiles, Book IV, chapter 81