It was going to be a lot of walking and train time if it turned out to be closed again, but I made my way back to Belém because I wanted to have a proper visit to St. Jerónimos Monastery. I was not disappointed.
As is the case with most of my train rides, I missed my stop. [insert eyeroll] Most trains have either a scrolling sign or announce the stops; I’m guessing the one on my train was out of service. I told myself when I got on, ‘It’s the third stop. Get off there.’ But it did not look right, so I remained on the train and… yep. It was the right stop. Got off at the next made my way to the other side of the track to catch the returning train. After ten minutes of waiting and no sign, I stepped off the platform and said, “Taxi!” Four minutes and 6€ later I was deposited at the front door of the monastery. It was worth it.
By the time I arrived, most of the other tourists were at supper. I didn’t have it to myself, but when you can capture a photo like this…
There are two self-guided tours: one through the church and another through the cloisters. I began with the church.
Construction began in 1502 and was one of the reasons why the church in Batalha was not completed: there is only so much stone and so many stonecutters. The king decided that after 129 years of construction at Batalha, they had had enough time to complete.
None of the churches are brightly lit, but this was by far the darkest, between fewer windows and electrical lights.
The last entry into the monastery side is 5:30 p.m., and I timed it perfectly.
St. Jerome is most often pictured with a lion. This painting greets you at the top of the stairs leading to the second story, and the proud lion sits at the corner of the inner courtyard.
The Golden Legend says…
One day toward evening, when he was seated with the brethren to hear the sacred lessons read, a lion suddenly limped into the monastery. The other monks fled at the sight of the beast, but Jerome greeted him as a guest. The lion showed him his wounded foot, and Jerome called the brothers and ordered them to wash the animal’s feet and to dress the wound carefully. When they set about doing this, they found that the paw had been scratched and torn by thorns. They did what was necessary, and the lion recovered, lost all his wildness, and lived among the monks like a house pet.
I posted the legend elsewhere, and someone commented that the legend of the lion is based on Jerome’s temper which he had a difficult time containing. It is easy to see that in the story as well: his life of prayer, cloistered with the other monks, tamed his temper and his soul.
Today is my last day in Portugal and I’ve no plan. I still haven’t ridden one of the trolleys, but with such long flights coming up tomorrow, I’m not too interested in spending the day sitting. Maybe I’ll just walk out the door and see where my feet take me.
I forgot to make a New Year’s resolution. I think it will be to travel at every opportunity I can.
The day began with the sun glorifying the gold cross on top of the Duomo.
It was a wonderfully cool morning, so we walked up the street to Artigianale’s for a croissant and cappuccino. From there we made our way through the early morning bustle of the office workers and arrived at the Uffizi Gallery Florence precisely on schedule.
The Uffizi is like walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It just never stops. You will either suffer from Stendhal Syndrome (being overwhelmed by such wondrous works of art) or Florence Disease (simply by being overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of art.) And there is much to see.
And don’t forget to look up, because the ceilings are just as beautiful…
As we finished we stopped for some fizzy water then made our way to the Santa Croce Basilica. So much beauty…
We sat with this view and spent some time in prayer before walking the inside perimeter and seeing the side chapels. I had no idea. This is the place where some of the greatest minds in history have been buried. When I say greatest, I mean…
And many more. The floor is a maze of grave makers so worn that you can no longer read the names and for me, I found myself walking around them or between them so as not to “step” on anyone. From there we made our way into the church museum and again, just so much to see…
It was then that I simply decided to focus on one small detail of the works we were seeing. It allowed the opportunity to truly absorb a small piece of what was being offered.
All this could only be followed up by some tasty food, so we made our way over to Oinos Ristorante / Pizzeria where I had lots of water, Penne al Chianti, and a nice glass of Chianti. We went on from there just wandering the city where we encountered the boar at the Boar Market and found a nice glass of wine in Signorvino along the Arno River.
Of all that I’ve been amazed with outside of the city, art, and food, it is the mass of people. So many here to take pictures of what they see but it does not seem that they take it in. They are moving so fast that it is not possible to form any real attachment to the art or to understand it. That’s not a judgment, I just find myself standing in front one piece that “speaks” to me and not really worrying about the rest. Lectio Divina is the method of reading until the text elicits a response from you. Seems art should do the same. You don’t go until you’ve seen everything there is to offer, you go until something speaks and then you let it write its message on your heart. I’m going to remember this as I make my way through the next two weeks.
The day ended with the sun setting behind the duomo.