Monday, March 18, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog: Tumult, Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12, Psalms 46:2-9, John 5:1-16, St Seraphina, San Gimignano Italy, Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, Catholic Catechism Part One Section 2 The Creeds Chapter 3:10:1 &2 I Believe in the Forgviness of Sins, The Power of the Keys

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 - Litany Lane Blog:

Tumult, Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12, Psalms 46:2-9, John 5:1-16, St Seraphina, San Gimignano Italy, Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, Catholic Catechism Part One Section 2 The Creeds Chapter 3:10:1 &2 I Believe in the Forgviness of Sins, The Power of the Keys

Good Day Bloggers!  Wishing everyone a Blessed Week!

Year of Faith - October 11, 2012 - November 24, 2013

P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Serenity Happens). It has a remarkable way of producing solace, peace, patience and tranquility and of course resolution...God's always available 24/7.

The world begins and ends everyday for someone.  We are all human. We all experience birth, life and death. We all have flaws but we also all have the gift of knowledge and free will, make the most of these gifts. Life on earth is a stepping stone to our eternal home in Heaven. Its your choice whether to rise towards eternal light or lost to eternal darkness. Material items, though needed for sustenance and survival on earth are of earthly value only. The only thing that passes from this earth to Purgatory and/or Heaven is our Soul, our's God's perpetual gift to us...Embrace it, treasure it, nurture it, protect it...

"Raise not a hand to another unless it is to offer in peace and goodwill." ~ Zarya Parx 2012


Prayers for Today: Tuesday in Lent


March 2, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
“Dear children; Anew, in a motherly way, I am calling you not to be of a hard heart. Do not shut your eyes to the warnings which the Heavenly Father sends to you out of love. Do you love Him above all else? Do you repent for having often forgotten that the Heavenly Father, out of His great love, sent His Son to redeem us by the Cross? Do you repent for not having accepted the message? My children, do not resist the love of my Son. Do not resist hope and peace. Along with your prayers and fasting, by His Cross, my Son will cast away the darkness that wants to surround you and come to rule over you. He will give you the strength for a new life. Living it according to my Son, you will be a blessing and a hope to all those sinners who wander in the darkness of sin. My children, keep vigil. I, as a mother, am keeping vigil with you. I am especially praying and watching over those whom my Son called to be light-bearers and carriers of hope for you – for your shepherds. Thank you.”

February 25, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
“Dear children! Also today I call you to prayer. Sin is pulling you towards worldly things and I have come to lead you towards holiness and the things of God, but you are struggling and spending your energies in the battle with the good and the evil that are in you. Therefore, little children, pray, pray, pray until prayer becomes a joy for you and your life will become a simple walk towards God. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

 February 2, 2013 Message From Our Lady of Medjugorje to World:
"Dear children, love is bringing me to you - the love which I desire to teach you also - real love; the love which my Son showed you when He died on the Cross out of love for you; the love which is always ready to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. How great is your love? My motherly heart is sorrowful as it searches for love in your hearts. You are not ready to submit your will to God's will out of love. You cannot help me to have those who have not come to know God's love to come to know it, because you do not have real love. Consecrate your hearts to me and I will lead you. I will teach you to forgive, to love your enemies and to live according to my Son. Do not be afraid for yourselves. In afflictions my Son does not forget those who love. I will be beside you. I will implore the Heavenly Father for the light of eternal truth and love to illuminate you. Pray for your shepherds so that through your fasting and prayer they can lead you in love. Thank you."



Today's Word:  tumult  tu·mult  [too-muhlt]

Origin: 1375–1425; late Middle English tumult ( e ) < Latin tumultus  an uproar, akin to tumēre  to swell
1. violent and noisy commotion or disturbance of a crowd or mob; uproar: The tumult reached its height during the premier's speech.
2. a general outbreak, riot, uprising, or other disorder: The tumult moved toward the embassy.
3. highly distressing agitation of mind or feeling; turbulent mental or emotional disturbance: His placid facade failed to conceal the tumult of his mind.


Today's Old Testament Reading -  Psalms 46:2-3, 5-6, 8-9

2 so we shall not be afraid though the earth be in turmoil, though mountains tumble into the depths of the sea,
3 and its waters roar and seethe, and the mountains totter as it heaves. (Yahweh Sabaoth is with us, our citadel, the God of Jacob.)Pause
5 God is in the city, it cannot fall; at break of day God comes to its rescue.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms are tumbling, when he raises his voice the earth crumbles away.
8 Come, consider the wonders of Yahweh, the astounding deeds he has done on the earth;
9 he puts an end to wars over the whole wide world, he breaks the bow, he snaps the spear, shields he burns in the fire


Today's Epistle -  Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12

1 He brought me back to the entrance of the Temple, where a stream flowed eastwards from under the Temple threshold, for the Temple faced east. The water flowed from under the right side of the Temple, south of the altar.
2 He took me out by the north gate and led me right round outside as far as the outer east gate where the water flowed out on the right-hand side.
3 The man went off to the east holding his measuring line and measured off a thousand cubits; he then made me wade across the stream; the water reached my ankles.
4 He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my knees. He measured off another thousand and made me wade across the stream again; the water reached my waist.
5 He measured off another thousand; it was now a river which I could not cross; the stream had swollen and was now deep water, a river impossible to cross.
6 He then said, 'Do you see, son of man?' He then took me and brought me back to the bank on the river.
7 Now, when I reached it, I saw an enormous number of trees on each bank of the river.
8 He said, 'This water flows east down to the Arabah and to the sea; and flowing into the sea it makes its waters wholesome.
9 Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows.
12 Along the river, on either bank, will grow every kind of fruit tree with leaves that never wither and fruit that never fails; they will bear new fruit every month, because this water comes from the sanctuary. And their fruit will be good to eat and the leaves medicinal.'


Today's Gospel Reading - John 5:1-16

There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now in Jerusalem next to the Sheep Pool there is a pool called Bethesda in Hebrew, which has five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people, blind, lame, paralysed. One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in that condition for a long time, he said, 'Do you want to be well again?' 'Sir,' replied the sick man, 'I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets down there before me.' Jesus said, 'Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk around.' The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and started to walk around.  Now that day happened to be the Sabbath, so the Jews said to the man who had been cured, 'It is the Sabbath; you are not allowed to carry your sleeping-mat.' He replied, 'But the man who cured me told me, "Pick up your sleeping-mat and walk around." ' They asked, 'Who is the man who said to you, "Pick up your sleeping-mat and walk around"? ' The man had no idea who it was, since Jesus had disappeared, as the place was crowded. After a while Jesus met him in the Temple and said, 'Now you are well again, do not sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.' The man went back and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had cured him. It was because he did things like this on the Sabbath that the Jews began to harass Jesus. 

• Today’s Gospel describes Jesus who cures the paralytic who had waited 38 years for someone to help him get to the water of the pool so as to be healed! Thirty-eight years! Before this total absence of solidarity, what does Jesus do? He transgresses the law of Saturday and cures the paralytic. Today, in poor countries, assistance to sick persons is lacking, people experience the same lack of solidarity. They live in total abandonment, without help or solidarity from anyone.

• John 5, 1-2: Jesus goes to Jerusalem. On the occasion of the Jewish festival, Jesus goes to Jerusalem. There, close to the Temple was a pool with five porticos or corridors. At that time, worship in the Temple demanded much water because of the numerous animals which were sacrificed, especially during the great festivals. This is why, near the Temple there were several cisterns where rain water was gathered. Some could contain over one thousand litres. Close by, because of the abundance of water, there was a public bathing resort, where crowds of sick people gathered waiting for help or to be healed. Archeology has shown that in the same precincts of the Temple, there was a place where the Scribes taught the Law to students. On one side, the teaching of the Law of God. On the other, the abandonment of the poor. The water purified the Temple, but it did not purify the people.

• John 5, 3-4: The situation of the sick. These sick people were attracted by the water of the bathing resort. They said that an angel would disturb the water and the first one who would enter after the angel disturbed the water, would be cured. In other words, the sick people were attracted by a false hope. Healing was only for one person. Just as the lottery today. Only one person gets the prize! The majority pays and wins nothing. Precisely, in this situation of total abandonment, in the public baths, Jesus meets the sick people.

• John 5, 5-9: Jesus cures a sick man on Saturday. Very close to the place where the observance of the Law of God was taught, a paralytic had been there for 38 years, waiting for someone who would help him to go down to the water to be cured. This facts reveals the total lack of solidarity and of acceptance of the excluded! Number 38 indicated the duration of a whole generation (Dt 2, 14). It is a whole generation which does not succeed to experience solidarity, or mercy. Religion at that time, was not capable to reveal the welcoming and merciful face of God. In the face of this dramatic situation Jesus transgresses the law of Saturday and takes care of the paralytic saying: “Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk around!” The man picked up his mat and started to walk around among the people.

• John 5, 10-13: Discussion of the cured man with the Jews. Immediately after, some Jews arrived and criticized the man who was carrying his sleeping mat on a Saturday. The man did not know who the one who had cured him was. He did not know Jesus. This means that Jesus passing by that place where the poor and the sick were saw that person; he perceived the dramatic situation in which he was and cured him. He does not cure him to convert him, neither so that he would believe in God. He cures him because he wants to help him. He wanted him to experience some love and solidarity through his help and loving acceptance.

• John 5, 14-16: The man meets Jesus again. Going to the Temple, in the midst of the crowds, Jesus meets the same man and tells him: “Now, you are well again, do not sin any more, or something worse may happen to you”. At that moment, people thought and said: “Sickness is a punishment from God. God is with you!” Once the man is cured, he has to keep from sinning again, so that nothing worse will happen to him! But in his naiveté, the man went to tell the Jews that Jesus had cured him. The Jews began to ask Jesus why he did those things on Saturday. In tomorrow’s Gospel we have what follows. 

Personal questions
• Have I ever had an experience similar to that of the paralytic: to remain for some time without any help? How is the situation regarding assistance to the sick in the place where you live? Do you perceive any signs of solidarity?
• What does this teach us today? 

Reference: Courtesy of Order of Carmelites,


Featured Item of the Day from Litany Lane


Saint of the Day:  Saint Seraphina

Feast DayMarch 12

Patron Saint:  physically challenged people, spinners

Attributes: Violets, depicted with Saint Gregory the Great, or lying on her wooden board

Saint Serphina
Saint Fina (1238–1253), or Saint Serafina, was an Italian Christian girl who is venerated in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano. Fina[1]dei Ciardi was born in San Gimignano on 1238. Daughter of Cambio Ciardi and Imperiera, a declined noble family, she lived all her existence in a humble house located in the historic centre of the famous “city of beautiful towers” (today the small road on which her house stands takes her name). There is little record of the first ten years of her life, and what information we have comes from legends narrated after her death. Some documents say that she was very devoted to the Virgin and she went out only to attend mass. She was said to be extraordinarily kind.

In 1248 Fina’s life was changed by a serious illness, which began, progressively, to paralyse her (probably a form of tuberculosis like osteomyelitis). Her deep faith relieved her pain. She refused a bed and chose instead to lie on a wooden pallet. According to her legend, during her long sickness her body became attached to the wood of the table, and worms and rats fed on her rotting flesh. During her illness, she lost her father and later her mother died after a fall. In spite of her misfortune and poverty she thanked God and expressed a desire that her soul might separate from the body in order to meet Jesus Christ.

Fina's immense devotion was an example to all the citizens of San Gimignano, who frequently visited her. Visitors were surprised to receive words of encouragement from a desperately ill young girl who was resigned to the will of God. On March 4, 1253, after five years of sickness and pain, while her nurses Beldia and Bonaventura were waiting for her to pass away, Saint Gregory the Great allegedly appeared in Fina’s room and predicted that she would die on the 12th of March. Fina died on the predicted date. She was only 15 years old.

Miracles and legends

The most important miracle is the vision of Saint Gregory also because Fina died on Saint Gregory day (12 March) as he predicted.

When Fina’s body was removed from the pallet, the people who were there saw white violets bloom from the wood and smelt a fresh flower fragrance through the whole house. The violets grew on the walls of San Gimignano too and still today they grow there. For this reason the people of San Gimignano call them “The Saint Fina violets”. The young girl’s body was brought to the Pieve Prepositura[2] and during the transfer all the people said “The Saint is dead!”.

For several days pilgrims went to the Pieve to see Fina’s remains and in the same period there were many evidences of her curative power. One was her nurse Beldia. The woman had a paralysed hand for the labour in supporting Fina’s head during her sickness. While she was near the body, the dead young girl cured Beldia’s hand. Legends say that, at the exact moment of Fina’s passing away, all the bells of San Gimignano rang without anyone touching them.

Many sick people who visited her grave during the following years were cured and some of these became some of the most fervent apostles of S. Fina’s worship. The decision of Fina to lie down on a wood table is still a mystery. Some documents tell about her sympathy for a soldier: before her sickness she received an orange from him as love pawn. After the disappointment of her parents for Fina having accepted the present she might have chosen the pain.

Another legend tells that during a walk with two of her friends she heard another young girl cry. Smeralda, this is her name, had broken a pitcher that her mother had given her in order to fill with water from Fonti[3]. While she was stopped to play with other children, she forgot the pitcher on the ground which unfortunately rolled down and broke. Fina told her to arrange the pieces and put them under the water: the pitcher became complete and full of water.

Another anecdote about Fina’s miracles is the one of Cambio di Rustico: the Ciardi family’s neighbor. The man, a few years after Fina’s death on March 12 when all people had stopped working in order to remember the poor young girl, went to cut the wood and unfortunately hurt his leg. Suffering for his pain he asked forgiveness of Saint Fina and was very sorry for not having respected the holy day. Then his cut disappeared. Other miracles attributed to Fina are mentioned in some stories, paintings, poems and in notary documents.

Festive days

Saint Fina is celebrated in San Gimignano on March 12, the anniversary of her death. This has been an official festive day since 1481. Two years before (1479), the little patron saint was implored to stop the plague: the calamity stopped and this miracle occurred again in the same period of 1631. This happened on the first Sunday of August and still today Saint Fina is celebrated twice in the town during the year. On both days her relics are carried in procession in order to bless the town. Her example of devotion has been handed down during times by the people of San Gimignano through her worship, but in spite of the name “Saint” she was not canonized. So, as written in some paintings dedicated to her, it would be correct to call her Blessed Fina. In fact the official patron saint of her town is still Saint Gimignano [4].

The hospital

The most important thing “produced” in memory of Saint Fina is the “spedale” (hospital)[5] who took her name and was built in 1255 thanks to donations given at her tomb. The hospital gave hospitality to old and poor people and pilgrims too. It became in the following century one of the best in Tuscany. The building changed its name in 1816 and remained in function until the end of 20th century. In the hospital’s chapel, the original oak wood table where Saint Fina lay down for five years is preserved.


The most important monument dedicated to Saint Fina is her chapel (designed by Giuliano da Maiano in 1468 and consecrated in 1488) located inside the Collegiata di San Gimignano where, inside the altar (built by the brother Benedetto da Maiano), the bones are kept. On the left and right walls of the Chapel there are two frescoes painted by Domenico Ghirlandaio: one shows the vision of St. Gregory; the other shows the funeral where the violets in blosom on the towers are represented. We also see an angel ringing the bells, Beldia’s cured hand and the self-portrait of the painter and his brother-in-law Mainardi, who painted the Chapel’s ceiling. On the altar there is a bust with Saint Fina’s relics inside.

Inside the Civic Museum of San Gimignano there is a wood tabernacle (by Lorenzo di Nicolò de Martino 1402) depicting Saint Fina with the town on her lap, an icon of St. Gregory and some her anecdotes of life. Another image of Fina is in the nearby St. Agostino Church, painted by Benozzo Gozzoli. Many other artists were inspired by Saint Fina’s life (Piero del Pollaiolo, Pier Francesco Fiorentino etc.). In others small churches in the countryside other painting about Saint Fina were discovered.

The most credited biographer of Saint Fina is Fra’ Giovanni del Coppo (“Historia vita et morte di Sancta Fina da San Gimignano”, written on 14th century and translated from Latin by Jacopo Manducci on 1575), who lived closest in time to Saint Fina. Many others have tried to tell Saint Fina’s life (Enrico Castaldi, Giovanni Bollando, Filippo Buonaccorsi, Teodoro Ferroni, Ignazio Malenotti, Luigi Pecori, Ugo Nomi Veronesi Pesciolini, Enrico Fiumi).

The best and most updated book is “Fina dei Ciardi”, written by Prof.ssa Iole Imberciadori Vichi in 1979: a deep research of all documents and biography existing in San Gimignano archives.


  1. ^ Likely a diminutive of Serafina; possibly of Iosefina.
  2. ^ Today is the Collegiata of San Gimignano (the main church).
  3. ^ The public natural springs in S. Gimignano.
  4. ^ Bishop of Modena, died in 387. In legend, saved the citizens of the little town from the onslaughts of the Barbarian hordes in the 6th century.
  5. ^ The old Italian name was “Lo spedale”, the modern name is “L’ ospedale”.


    Featured Items Panel from Litany Lane



    Today's Snippet I:  San Gimignano, Italy

    San Gimignano Italy
    San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses,[1] which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls form "an unforgettable skyline".[2] Within the walls, the well-preserved buildings include notable examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with outstanding examples of secular buildings as well as churches. The Palazzo Comunale, the Collegiate Church and Church of Sant' Agostino contain frescos, including cycles dating from the 14th and 15th centuries.[2] The "Historic Centre of San Gimignano", is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[2] The town also is known for the white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape which is grown on the sandstone hillsides of the area.[3][4]


    In the 3rd century BC a small Etruscan village stood on the site of San Gimignano. Chroniclers Lupi, Coppi and Pecori relate that during Catiline conspiracy against the Roman Republic in the 1st century, two patrician brothers, Muzio and Silvio, fled Rome for Valdelsa and built two castles, Mucchio and Silvia (now San Gimignano). The name of Silvia was changed to San Gimignano in 450 AD after the Saint of Modena, Bishop Geminianus intervened to spare the castle from destruction by the followers of Attila the Hun.[5] As a result, a church was dedicated to the Saint and in the 6th and 7th centuries a walled village grew up around it, subsequently called the "Castle of San Gimignano" or Castle of the Forest because of the extensive woodland surrounding it. From 929 the town was ruled by the bishops of Volterra.[6]

    In the Middle Ages and Renaissance era, it was a stopping point for Catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome and the Vatican, as it sits on the medieval Via Francigena.[5] The city's development was also improved by the trade of agricultural products from the fertile neighbouring hills, in particular saffron, used in both cooking and dyeing cloth and Vernaccia wine, said to inspire popes and poets.[4]

    In 1199, the city made itself independent from the bishops of Volterra and established a podestà, and set about enriching the commune, with churches and public buildings. However, the peace of the town was disturbed for the next two centuries by conflict between Guelphs and Ghibellines, and family rivalries.[6] This resulted in families building tower houses of increasing height. Towards the end of the Medieval period they were 72 in number and up to 70 metres (230 feet) tall. The rivalry was finally restrained when it was ordained by the council that no tower was to be taller than that adjacent to the Palazzo Comunale.[6]

    While the official patron is Saint Geminianus, the town also honours Saint Fina, known also as Seraphina and Serafina, who was born in San Gimignano 1238 and whose feast day is March 12. The Chapel of Santa Fina in the Collegiate Church houses her shrine and frescos by Ghirlandaio.[7] The house said to be her home still stands in the town.

    On May 8, 1300, San Gimignano hosted Dante Alighieri in his role of ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany.[5]

    The city flourished until 1348, when it was struck by the Black Death that affected all of Europe, and about half the townsfolk died.[6] The town submitted to the rule of Florence. Initially, some Gothic palazzo were built in the Florentine style, and many of the towers were reduced to the height of the houses.[6] There was little subsequent development, and San Gimignano remained preserved in its medieval state until the 19th century, when its status as a touristic and artistic resort began to be recognised.

    The city is on the ridge of a hill with its main axis being north/south. It is encircled by three walls and has at its highest point, to the west, the ruins of a fortress dismantled in the 16th century. There are eight entrances into the city, set into the second wall, which dates from the 12th and 13th centuries.[8] The main gates are Porta San Giovanni on the ridge extending south, Porta San Matteo to the north west and Porta S. Jacopo to the north east. The main streets are Via San Matteo and Via San Giovanni, which cross the city from north to south. At the heart of the town are four squares: the Piazza Duomo, on which stands the Collegiate Church; the Piazza della Cisterna, the Piazza Pecori and the Piazza delle Erbe. To the north of the town is another significant square, Piazza Agostino, on which stands the Church of Sant' Agostino. The locations of the Collegiate Church and Sant' Agostino's and their piazzas effectively divide the town into two regions.



    Piazza Gimignano
    The town of San Gimignano has many fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture. As well as churches and medieval fortifications, there are notable examples of Romanesque secular and domestic architecture which may be distinguished from each other by their round and pointed arches, respectively. A particular feature which is typical of the region of Siena is that the arches of openings are depressed, with doorways often having a second low arch set beneath a semi-circular or pointed arch. Both Romanesque and Gothic windows sometimes have a bifurcate form, with two openings divided by a stone mullion under a single arch.[9]

    Piazza della Cisterna

    This Piazza, entered from Via San Giovanni, is the main square of the town. It is triangular in shape and is surrounded by medieval houses of different dates, among them some fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic palazzos. At the centre of the piazza stands a well which was the main source of water for the town's residents. The structure dates from 1346.[6] Although much of it has been renewed in the late 20th century, parts of the paving date from the 13th century.[6]

    Piazza Duomo

    This piazza is to the north of Piazza della Cistern and is connected by a passage adjacent to an open loggia. To the west, at the top of the square, stands the Collegiate Church, reached by a broad flight of steps. The name of the square would seem to imply that this church was at one time a cathedral, but although it was perhaps planned, this was not the case. Other important buildings on the square include the Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzo Podesta, the house of the mayor. The Palazzo Podesta is distinguished by its huge arched loggia.


    While in other cities, such as Florence, most or all of their towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes, or urban renewal, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying heights, for which it is known internationally.
    • Torre Grossa, (1311) 54 metres
    • Torre della Rognosa, 51 metres
    • Torre Cugnanesi
    • Torre del Diabolo
    • Torri degli Ardinghelli
    • Torri dei Salvucci
    • Torre Chigi, (1280)
    • Torre Pettini


    There are many churches in the town: the two main ones are the Collegiata, formerly a cathedral, and Sant'Agostino, housing a many artworks from early Italian renaissance artists.

    Civic buildings

    The Communal Palace, once seat of the podestà, is currently home of the town gallery, with works by Pinturicchio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Domenico di Michelino, Pier Francesco Fiorentino and others. From Dante's Hall in the palace, access may be made to a Maesta fresco by Lippo Memmi, as well as the Torre del Podestà or Torre Grossa, 1311, which stands fifty-four metres high.


    San Gimignano is the birthplace of the poet Folgore da San Gimignano (1270–1332).

    A fictionalised version of San Gimignano is featured in E. M. Forster's 1905 novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread as Monteriano.

    Tea with Mussolini, a 1999 drama about the plight of English and American expatriate women in Italy during World War II, was filmed in part at San Gimignano. The frescoes that the women save from being destroyed during the German Army's withdrawal are inside the Duomo, the town's main church.

    Franco Zeffirelli used San Gimignano as a stand-in for the town of Assisi in his 1972 St. Francis of Assisi biopic Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Most of the "Assisi" scenes were filmed here.

    In the novel The Broker by John Grisham, Joel Backman takes his second of three wives on vacation in Italy to keep her from divorcing him. They rent a 14th century monastery near San Gimignano for a month.
    M. C. Escher's 1923 woodcut, San Gimignano, depicts the celebrated towers.

    15th century San Gimignano may be explored in the video game Assassin's Creed II.

    Located in the heart of the city, the museum SanGimignano1300 offers a massive reconstruction of the city as it existed 700 years ago. Architects, historians, and a team of artists worked nearly 3 years to create this spectacular and unprecedented exhibition. This exhibit includes 800 meticulously handcrafted structures, 72 towers, street scenes, and figurines.


    1. ^ The exact number is not a matter of agreement because many towers have been levelled to the same height as adjacent buildings. The number is given as "a dozen" (Strasser), 13 (Vantaggi) and 14 (UNESCO).
    2. ^UNESCO: Historic Centre of San Gimignano, (accessed 05-09-2012)
    3. ^ Tuscany Wine, (accessed 11-09-2012)
    4. Vernaccia di San Gimignano, (accessed 11-09-2012)
    5. ^ History of San Gimignano, (accessed 11-09-2012)
    6. ^ A. M.von der Hagen and R. Strasser, op. cit. pp. 430-433
    7. ^ Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit. pp. 41-50
    8. ^ Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit. pp. 5-6
    9. ^ Vantaggi, op. cit., pp. 82-83
      • AA. VV., Medieval Churches of the Val d'Elsa. The territories of the Via Francigena between Siena and San Gimignano, Empoli, dell'Acero Publishers, 1996. ISBN 88-86975-08-2
      • Rosella Vantaggi, San Gimignano: Town of the Fine Towers, Plurigraf. 1979
      • Anne Mueller von der Hagen, Ruth Strasser, Art and Architecture of Tuscany, Kőnemann, 2001, ISBN 3 8290 2652 8


        Today's Snippet II: Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta

        Sana Maria Assunta, Gimignano Italy
        The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, San Gimignano is a Roman Catholic collegiate church and minor basilica[1] located in San Gimignano, Tuscany, central Italy, situated in the Piazza del Duomo at the town's heart. The church is famous for its fresco cycles which include works by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Taddeo di Bartolo, Lippo Memmi and Bartolo di Fredi. The basilica is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the "Historic Centre of San Gimignano", with its frescos being described by UNESCO as "works of outstanding beauty".[2]


        The first church on the site was begun in the 10th century.[3] During the early 12th century the importance of San Gimignano, and its principal church, grew steadily, owing to the town's location on the pilgrimage route to Rome, the Via Francigena.[4] The present church on this site was consecrated on 21 November 1148 and dedicated to St. Geminianus (San Gimignano) in the presence of Pope Eugenius III and 14 prelates.[3] The event is commemorated in a plaque on the facade.[3] The power and authority of the city of San Gimignano continued to grow, until it was able to win autonomy from Volterra. The church owned land and enjoyed numerous privileges that were endorsed by papal bulls and decrees.[5] It was elevated to collegiate status 20 September 1471.[6]

        During the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries, the church was enriched by the addition of frescos and sculpture.[5] The western end of the building (liturgical east) was altered and extended by Giuliano da Maiano between 1466 and 1468, with the work including vestries, the Chapel of Conception and the Chapel of St Fina.[3] The church was damaged during World War II, and during the subsequent restoration in 1951 the triapsidal eastern end of the earlier church was discovered lying beneath the nave of the present church.[3]

        The church possesses the relics of St. Geminianus, the beatified Bishop of Modena and patron saint of the town, whose feast day is celebrated on 31 January. On 8 May 1300 Dante Alighieri came to San Gimignano as the Ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany.[7] Girolamo Savonarola preached from the pulpit of this church in 1497.[5]


        Interior of Collegiate Church

        The Collegiate Church stands on the west side of Piazza del Duomo, so named although the church has never been the seat of a bishop.[8] The church has an east-facing facade, and chancel to the west, as at St Peter's Basilica. The architecture is 12th and 13th century Romanesque with the exception of the two chapels in the Renaissance style. The facade, which has little ornament, is approached from the square by a wide staircase and has a door into each of the side aisles, but no central portal. The doorways are surmounted by stone lintels with recessed arches above them, unusual in incorporating the stone Gabbro.[9] There is a central ocular window at the end of the nave and a smaller one giving light to each aisle. The facade, which is stone, was raised higher in brick in 1340, when the ribbed vaulting was constructed, and the two smaller ocular windows set in.[8] Matteo di Brunisend is generally credited as the main architect of the medieval period, with his date of activity given as 1239, but in fact his contribution may have been little more than the design of the central ocular window.[9] Beneath this window is a slot which marks the place of a window which lit the chancel of the earlier church, and may be the most visible sign of the church's reorientation in the 12th century rebuilding, although this is not entirely agreed upon by scholars.[9]

        To the north side of the church, in the corner of the transept and chancel, stands a severely plain campanile of square plan, with a single arched opening in each face. The campanile may be that of the earlier church, as it appears to mark the extent of the original western facade, or it may have been one of the city's many tower houses, pressed into service of the church. To the south side of the church is the Loggia of the Baptistry, a 14th century arcaded cloister with stout octagonal columns and a groin vault.[10]

        Internally, the building is in the shape of a Latin Cross, with central nave and an aisle on either side, divided by arcades of seven semi-circular Romanesque arches resting on columns with simplified Corinthianesque capitals.[11] The chancel is a simple rectangle with a single arched window at the terminal end. The roofs throughout are of quadripartite vaults which date from the mid 14th century.[8] Although Gothic by date and decoration, the profiles of the ribs are semi-circular in the Romanesque manner. The clerestory has small windows, inserted when the nave was vaulted, along with lancet windows in the north aisle, the aisle windows were subsequently blocked for the painting of the fresco cycle, making the interior very dark.[11]


        The Romanesque architectural details of the church's interior are emphasised by the decorative use of colour, with the voussoirs of the nave arcades being of alternately black and white marble, creating stripes, as seen at Orvieto Cathedral. The vault compartments are all painted with lapis lazuli dotted with gold stars, and the vaulting ribs are emphasised with bands of geometric decoration predominantly in red, white and gold.
        The church is most famous for its largely intact scheme of fresco decoration, the greater part of which dates from the 14th century, and represents the work of painters of the Sienese school, influenced by the Byzantine traditions of Duccio and the Early Renaissance developments of Giotto. The frescoes comprise a Poor Man's Bible of Old Testament cycle, New Testament cycle, and Last Judgement, as well as an Annunciation, a Saint Sebastian, and the stories of a local saint, St Fina, as well as several smaller works.

        Old Testament cycle

        The wall of the left aisle had six decorated bays, of which the paintings of the first bay are in poor condition and those of the sixth have been damaged and in part destroyed by the insertion of the pipe organ. The remaining paintings, with the exception of a repainted panel in the sixth bay, are the work of Bartolo di Fredi, and, according to an inscription, were completed around 1356.[12] The paintings are in three registers and proceed from left to right chronologically in each register.[12]

        Upper level

        Upper Level: The Creation of Adam by Bartolo di Fredi
        The upper register occupies the lunettes beneath the vault and depicts the story of Creation. [12]
        1. Creation of the Firmament
        2. Creation of Man
        3. Adam names the animals
        4. Creation of Eve
        5. God commands Adam and Eve not to touch the forbidden fruit
        6. The Original Sin (lost)[12]


        Middle level

        Middle Level: Pharaoh and his soldiers are drowned crossing the Red Sea, from the Old Testament cycle by Bartolo di Fredi

        The second register has ten remaining scenes, with two at the furthest right having been lost with the insertion of the organ.[12]
        1. The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden (very incomplete)
        2. Cain kills Abel (very incomplete)
        3. Noah and his family building the Ark
        4. Animals entering the Ark
        5. Noah and his family giving thanks after the Great Flood
        6. The Drunkenness of Noah
        7. The departure of Abraham and Lot from the land of the Chaldeans
        8. Abraham and Lot go separate ways.
        9. Joseph's dream
        10. Joseph is put into a well by his brothers
        11. Story of Joseph in Egypt (lost)
        12. Story of Joseph in Egypt (lost) [12]

        Lower level

        Story of Job. The Devil bargains with God over Job's faith.

        In the lower register, there are ten scenes.[12]
        1. Joseph, has his brothers arrested (very incomplete)
        2. Joseph makes his identity known to his family (incomplete)
        3. Moses changes the rod into a serpent
        4. The army of Pharaoh are drowned in the Red Sea. (this scene occupies two sections)
        5. Moses on Mount Sinai
        6. The devil is sent to Job by God
        7. The men and herds of Job are killed
        8. The house of Job falls, killing his sons.
        9. Job prays to God
        10. Job, plagued by boils, is visited by friends. (incomplete)
        11. (Lost scene)[12]


        New Testament cycle

        The six decorated bays of the right aisle, with scenes of the New Testament, pose a problem of authorship. Giorgio Vasari states that they are the work of "Barna of Siena" and relates that Barna fell to his death from the scaffolding.[13] The name "Barna" in relation to paintings at the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano appears to have originated in Lorenzo Ghiberti's Commentaries. In 1927 the archivist Peleo Bacci made the suggestion that Barna had never existed and that the paintings are the work of Lippo Memmi. This hypothesis received no support and little comment for fifty years.[14] In 1976 discussion of Bacci's attribution was revived, with Moran suggesting that there had been a mis-transcription of "Bartolo" as "Barna", with the name "Bartolo" referring to Bartolo di Fredi, painter of the Old Testament cycle.[15]

        The attribution of the New Testament cycle to Lippo Memmi, perhaps assisted by his brother Federico Memmi and father Memmo di Filippucci, is now generally agreed.[14] Lippo Memmi was influenced by his more famous brother-in-law, Simone Martini.[8] Lippo Memmi also painted a large Maesta in the Town Hall of San Gimignano, in imitation of that done by Simone Martini at the Town Hall of Siena. The New Testament cycle of the right aisle appears to pre-date the Old Testament cycle and is generally accepted to date from c.1335-1345.[16]

        The scenes within the New Testament cycle are organised into four separate narratives, and do not follow a clear left-to-right pattern as do those of the left aisle. As with the left aisle, they are divided into three registers, the upper being the lunettes between the vaults.[16]

        Upper level

        The upper register shows the Birth of Christ. The series reads from right to left, in six bays. [16]
        1. The Annunciation
        2. The Nativity and adoration of the shepherds
        3. The adoration of the Magi
        4. The Presentation at the Temple
        5. The Massacre of the Innocents
        6. The Flight into Egypt[16]

        Middle level

        Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey

        Jesus calls Lazarus forth from the tomb

        The middle register shows scenes of the Life of Christ, beginning at the 4th bay, below the picture of the Presentation at the Temple, and reading left to right, with eight scenes.[16] The scenes have been skilfully juxtaposed so that narrative elements may be compared or contrasted. Within the fourth bay is shown the Presentation of the Temple, Jesus sitting among the Doctors of the Temple of Jerusalem as a twelve-year-old, and Jesus before his crucifixion, enthroned, crowned with thorns and mocked. [16]
        1. Jesus among the Doctors of the Temple of Jerusalem
        2. The Baptism of Jesus
        3. The Calling of Peter
        4. The Wedding at Cana of Galilee (damaged in WWII)
        5. The Transfiguration
        6. The Resurrection of Lazarus
        7. Jesus enters Jerusalem
        8. The people welcome Jesus to Jerusalem (the final two scenes are a single event spread over two frames)[16]


        Lower level

        The Last Supper bt Lippo Memmi

        The lower register, showing the Passion of Christ, continues beneath the Entry into Jerusalem, and is read from right to left in eight scenes over four bays.[16]
        1. The Last Supper
        2. Judas agrees to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver
        3. Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane
        4. The Kiss of Judas
        5. Jesus at the Praetorium
        6. The Scourging of Jesus
        7. Jesus crowned with thorns and mocked
        8. Jesus carrying the cross to Calvary [16]


        Bays five and six

        Bay five, beneath the lunette of the Slaughter of the Innocents, has a single large scene of the Crucifixion.[16]
        Bay six, beneath the lunette of the Flight into Egypt contained four scenes (destroyed in the 15th century) of post-crucifixion events[16] which are thought to have been:
        1. The Deposition
        2. The Descent into Limbo
        3. The Resurrection
        4. Pentecost


        The Last Judgement

        This scene is painted in fresco on the inner wall of the facade and the adjoining walls of the nave. The work was completed in 1493 by Taddeo di Bartolo, one of the foremost Sienese painters of the 14th century. The central section shows the figure of Christ as Judge, accompanied by the Virgin Mary and St John, with the Apostles. On the right wall is the image of Paradise, in a ruined state. On the left side Hell is represented, along with various depictions of the gruesome torments to be suffered by those who commit and of the Seven Deadly Sins.[17]

        Chapel of Santa Fina

        Pope Gregory announces the death of Santa Fina

        The Funeral of Santa Fina
        Domenico Ghirlandaio

        This chapel off the right aisle, which has been described as "one of the jewels of Renaissance architecture, painting and sculpture", is dedicated to a young girl, Serafina, known as "Fina" and regarded locally as a saint.[11] Fina, a child renowned for her piety, was orphaned at an early age, and then suffered a disease which rendered her invalid. She lay each day on a wooden palette, and was nursed by two women.[18] According to her legend, eight days before her death at the age of fifteen, Fina had a vision of Pope Gregory who told her that death was near.[18] On the day of her death, 12th March 1253, the bells of San Gimignano rang spontaneously, and large pale mauve flowers grew around her palette. As her nurse laid out her body, her hand moved, touching the nurse and healing her of paralysis that she had suffered as the result of many hours of supporting Fina's head. On the day of her funeral, a blind choir boy had his sight restored by touching her feet. It is said that mauve flowers bloom in San Gimignano every year on the anniversary of her death.[18]

        A chapel dedicated to St Fina was built off the right aisle by Giuliano da Maiano, and architectural details and a finely carved altarpiece by Benedetto da Maiano.[11] The side walls of the chapel were painted in fresco by Domenico Ghirlandaio around 1475, showing, on the walls, Santa Fina's visitation by Pope Gregory and Santa Fina's Funeral, with the various miracles including the two healings and an angle rings the bells in the background. The vault and spandrels were decorated by Sebastiano Mainardi and have figures of Evangelists, Prophets and Doctors of the Church.[18]

        Chapel of the Conception

        The chapel was built in 1477 and modified in the 17th century. The side lunettes have frescoes by Niccolo di Lapi representing the Birth of the Virgin and St Philip Neri celebration mass. The vault shows the Coronation of the Virgin painted by Pietro Dandini. The altarpiece is the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception by Ludovico Cardi, late 16th century.[19]

        Other artworks

        The Martyrdom of St Sebastian by Benozzo Gozzoli (1465) honours the saint who was invoked in times of plague.

        St Sebastian

        On the rear wall of the nave, beneath the Last Judgement is a fresco of the Martyrdom of St Sebastian painted by Benozzo Gozzoli in 1465.

        The work was commissioned by the people of San Gimignano as the result of a vow that they made to honour the saint, whose intervention was believed to have brought relief from an outbreak of plague in 1464.

        The painting shows the figure of Christ and the Virgin Mary in Glory, while below, St Sebastian, standing on a Classical plinth and bristling with arrows, suffers martyrdom and is crowned by angels.[20]

        Benozzo Gozzoli, had received his training under Lorenzo Ghiberti while working on the Baptistry doors.[20] He fulfilled two other important commissions in San Gimignano.

        Both were at the Church of Sant' Agostino, a fresco cycle of the life of St Augustine of Hippo executed 1464-65, and another St Sebastian, showing the townsfolk sheltering beneath his cloak.[21]

        The Annunciation

        The Annunciation, by Sebastiano Mainardi is located in the Baptistry .

        In the Baptistery Loggia to the south of the church are several small frescoes of saints, and a major work, The Annunciation, previously attributed to Ghirlandaio but now believed to be the work of Sebastiano Mainardi and dated to 1482.[10] In front of The Annunciation stands the font, which was removed from the church and placed in this position in 1632. It is hexagonal, with a sculptured relief on the side, that to the front being the Baptism of Christ, with the two adjoining panels containing kneeling angels. It is the work of the Sienese sculptor Giovanni di Cecco and was commissioned by the Wool-workers Guild in 1379.[10]

        Works by Jacopo della Quercia and others

        • The Annunciate angel and the Virgin Mary, two figures carved in wood by Jacopo della Quercia stand towards the end of the nave. They were created around 1421 and later decorated with polychrome by Martino di Martolomeo. [20]
        • Pope Gregory predicts the death of St Fina, an early 14th century fresco in a lunette of the right nave arcade, thought to be the work of Nicolo di Segna di Bonaventura.[18]
        • The main altar of the church has a large marble ciborium and two kneeling angels with candlesticks, the work of Benedetto Maiano, created at the same time as the altarpiece and tabernacle in the Chapel of Santa Fina, 1475.[22]
        • The crucifix of the chancel is by the Florentine sculptor, Giovanni Antonio Noferi, 1754. Noferi also designed the marble pavement of the chancel. [22]


          1. ^ "Basilica S. Maria Assunta". Retrieved 2 June 2012.
          2. ^ UNESCO: Historic Centre of San Gimignano, (accessed 05-09-2012)
          3. ^ AA. VV., Medieval Churches of the Val d'Elsa, op. cit., p. 86
          4. ^ Podere Santa Pia: Toscane, (accessed 02-09-2012)
          5. ^ San Gimignano (accessed 02--9-2012)
          6. ^ Emanuele Repetti, Gazetteer, physicist, historian of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, Florence, 1833-1846.
          7. ^ Cummune di San Gimignano, (accessed 02-09-2012)
          8. ^ A.M. von der Haegen and R. Strasser, op. cit., pp. 438-441
          9. ^ AA.VV. , Medieval Churches of the Val d' Elsa, op. cit. , p. 88
          10. ^ Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit., p.53
          11. Rosella Vantaggi, San Gimingnano, op. cit., p. 16
          12. Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit., pp. 19-29
          13. ^ Giorgio Vasari, Le Vite delle più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori, Part I, "Barna of Siena", (accessed 11-09-2012)
          14. ^ Gordon Moran, Silencing Scientists and Scholars...., op. cit., pp.79-81
          15. ^ Gordon Moran, Is the name Barna an incorrect transcription of the name Bartolo, Sansoni, Florence (1976)
          16. ^ Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit., pp. 34-40
          17. ^ Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit., pp. 30-32
          18. ^ Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit., pp. 41-49
          19. ^ Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit., p. 28
          20. ^ Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit., p. 33
          21. ^ Diane Cole Ahl, Benozzo Gozzoli's Frescoes of the Life of Saint Augustine in San Gimignano: Their Meaning in Context, Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 7, No. 13 (1986), pp. 35-53
          22. Rosella Vantaggi, op. cit., p.51


            Catechism of the Catholic Church

            Part One: Profession of Faith, Sect 2 The Creeds, Ch 3:10:1&2

            CHAPTER THREE

            Article 10
            976 The Apostle's Creed associates faith in the forgiveness of sins not only with faith in the Holy Spirit, but also with faith in the Church and in the communion of saints. It was when he gave the Holy Spirit to his apostles that the risen Christ conferred on them his own divine power to forgive sins: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."Jn 20:22-23

            (Part Two of the catechism will deal explicitly with the forgiveness of sins through Baptism, the sacrament of Penance, and the other sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Here it will suffice to suggest some basic facts briefly.)

            I. One Baptism for the Forgiveness of Sins
            977 Our Lord tied the forgiveness of sins to faith and Baptism: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved."Mk 16:15-16 Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of forgiveness of sins because it unites us with Christ, who died for our sins and rose for our justification, so that "we too might walk in newness of life."Rom 6:4; Cf. 4:25

            978 "When we made our first profession of faith while receiving the holy Baptism that cleansed us, the forgiveness we received then was so full and complete that there remained in us absolutely nothing left to efface, neither original sin nor offenses committed by our own will, nor was there left any penalty to suffer in order to expiate them.... Yet the grace of Baptism delivers no one from all the weakness of nature. On the contrary, we must still combat the movements of concupiscence that never cease leading us into evil Roman Catechism I, 11,3

            979 In this battle against our inclination towards evil, who could be brave and watchful enough to escape every wound of sin? "If the Church has the power to forgive sins, then Baptism cannot be her only means of using the keys of the Kingdom of heaven received from Jesus Christ. the Church must be able to forgive all penitents their offenses, even if they should sin until the last moment of their lives."Roman Catechism I, 11,4

            980 It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church:
            Penance has rightly been called by the holy Fathers "a laborious kind of baptism." This sacrament of Penance is necessary for salvation for those who have fallen after Baptism, just as Baptism is necessary for salvation for those who have not yet been reborn.Council of Trent (1551): DS 1672; Cf. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 39,17: PG 36,356

            II. The Power of the Keys
            981 After his Resurrection, Christ sent his apostles "so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations."Lk 24:47 The apostles and their successors carry out this "ministry of reconciliation," not only by announcing to men God's forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the power of the keys, received from Christ:2 Cor 5:18

            [The Church] has received the keys of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ's blood and the Holy Spirit's action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.St. Augustine, Sermo 214, 11: PL 38, 1071-1072

            982 There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive. "There is no one, however wicked and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his repentance is honest.Roman Catechism I, 11, 5 Christ who died for all men desires that in his Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away from sin.Mt 18:21-22

            983 Catechesis strives to awaken and nourish in the faithful faith in the incomparable greatness of the risen Christ's gift to his Church: the mission and the power to forgive sins through the ministry of the apostles and their successors:

            The Lord wills that his disciples possess a tremendous power: that his lowly servants accomplish in his name all that he did when he was on earth.Cf. St. Ambrose, De poenit. I, 15: PL 16, 490
            Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels .... God above confirms what priests do here below.John Chrysostom, De sac. 3, 5: PG 48, 643
            Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift.St. Augustine, Sermo 213, 8: PL 38,1064

            984 The Creed links "the forgiveness of sins" with its profession of faith in the Holy Spirit, for the risen Christ entrusted to the apostles the power to forgive sins when he gave them the Holy Spirit.

            985 Baptism is the first and chief sacrament of the forgiveness of sins: it unites us to Christ, who died and rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit.

            986 By Christ's will, the Church possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance.

            987 "In the forgiveness of sins, both priests and sacraments are instruments which our Lord Jesus Christ, the only author and liberal giver of salvation, wills to use in order to efface our sins and give us the grace of justification" (Roman Catechism, I, 11, 6).