Veni,Todi, Approvi IV
If you like that kind of thing Orvieto’s Duomo is a must. The guide book states, and who is to argue,that with the Duomo at Assisi it is the most serious Umbrian box to tick. Certainly the façade is one of the great sights of Europe. Rodins door, Grayson Perry’s loony church, mosaics, statues it is a “perfect synthesis between architecture and the decorative arts”. That is over the top. It is on a par of the great Jane temples of India as a testament to how powerful and rich the religion was and or how cheap and servile tradesmen used to be. It is a chocolate box with not one but three layers.
Three euros and you can enter. That is cheaper than some of England’s Cathedrals which can charge £5. As you have come to expect in medieval Italian churches there are the frescos. Oh yes.The best in one chapel illustrating the Last Judgement and the End of the World. That is the dead arising.
But over in the other capella it is a reliquary which catches the jaundiced eye of this Protestant, Inside the silver casket is the stained linen from the miracle of Bolsena. As miracles go ,a gem. In the 13th century a priest like many started to question transubstantiation. Was it really the body of Christ he was eating at Communion or was it just symbolic. Big Question. Many were burnt giving the wrong answer. But in this case as often happens in miracles, a sign came ,as it often does with miracles. As our worried priest was eating the bread it started to bleed. The blood fell on the alter linen which is now in the casket.
Pope Urban IV not noted for his sense of humour was not one to miss a miracle and declared the blood on the linen just that. Elsewhere just outside the ceramic centre of Deruta is a church built to celebrate another miracle. This time as a potter was working away he noted that there was a picture of the Madonna in the bottom of his pot. But it isn’t only the Italians who get up to these things. For a long time Peterborough Cathedral got the pilgrims and the money they brought in by claiming to have on display bread from the feeding of the 5000 some 1200 years before.
It is of course, all a question of faith. But when it comes to unexplained blood I remember the recent scandal of the blood substitute scandal in English rugby. Here to effect a substitution a player had his lip nicked with a razor. Heaven forbid(oh yes it can) that such a dastardly deed happened at Bolsena. OK I’m going to hell,I’m sure I can get a cheap flight through RyanAir. If it flies to and from Stansted hell is not such a big deal.