October 12, 2006

First day in Siena

Post by Sean Gallagher

(See photos for this post)

The town of Siena, ItalyThe archdiocesan pilgrimage made their way to Italy in three groups.  The one that I was in arrived first in Siena at approximately 1 p.m. local time.

After walking together to that great medieval town’s Piazza del Campo, we split up to have lunch on our own and then a couple of hours to walk about on our own.

The beautiful weather (sunny, with temperatures in the low 70s) made walking about the enormous piazza a real pleasure.  It is one we shared with many other tourists as well as those people of all ages who live in Siena.

After eating a quick lunch on the go, my wife and I walked to Siena’s Cathedral, known as “Il Duomo,” built during the High Middle Ages. Although its façade was undergoing a good amount of work, its exterior, seen from many parts of this hilly town, is striking with its alternating rows of white and dark marble, its tall bell tower and its large dome.

The interior’s marble walls match the pattern on the exterior.  Its tall and intricately carved ambo was also quite striking.

After visiting the cathedral, we made our way back to the piazza along many steep streets.  Along the way, we stopped and bought some rich and flavorful gelato.  For the next half hour or so, my wife and I ate our treat as we took our place alongside the many others sitting on the piazza and enjoying the day.

Late in the afternoon, the other two pilgrimage groups arrived and joined us for the first Mass of the pilgrimage at the Basilica of San Domenico, in which is displayed the preserved head of the town’s most famous saint, St. Catherine of Siena.  Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein was the primary celebrant and was joined on the occasion by five other archdiocesan priests who were concelebrants.

The primary intention of the Mass was for the archdiocese’s seminarians and for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.  This intention was highlighted for me by the fact that Father Scott Nobbe proclaimed the Gospel.  He was just ordained to the priesthood at the end of June.  His ordination is surely the result, in part, of the prayers of many people for him in particular and for an increase in priestly vocations in general.

By the end of this day, most everyone on the pilgrimage was very tired and are now looking forward to a good night’s rest.

This will be important as tomorrow will have a busy schedule: Mass in Siena followed by a walking tour of the town; a day trip to the medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano, and supper at a winery on our way to Rome.

Posted by Sean Gallagher at 7:01 p.m. on Thursday, October 12, 2006


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