Religion – Blog Holyblog Fri, 31 Aug 2018 14:37:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Religion – Blog 32 32 Prayer rings: a gift made with faith and love Thu, 30 Aug 2018 13:08:37 +0000 Among the sacred objects that can be worn, prayer rings deserve a special mention. The symbolism of the ring is complex and has its roots in ancient traditions, drawn from various cultures and civilizations. It seems that rings have been widespread since the Bronze Age, […]

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Among the sacred objects that can be worn, prayer rings deserve a special mention.

The symbolism of the ring is complex and has its roots in ancient traditions, drawn from various cultures and civilizations. It seems that rings have been widespread since the Bronze Age, and have always been the subject of particularly precise workmanship. The ring, by its very form, calls to infinity, to eternity, to divinity. It has no beginning or end, it is an Uroburo made matter. We recall that the Uroburo is an ancient symbol, which occurs in many different civilizations and religions, and represents, in fact, the infinite, in the form of a snake biting its tail.

At the same time, the ring expresses a sense of completeness and stability. Its closed form indicates a containment, the concentration of energies in a circumscribed place, somehow made sacredPrayer ring by its own configuration. Reminiscent of sacred constructions in times gone by, stone circles, and so on. For this reason, in Mesopotamian and Roman civilizations, it symbolized authority and power, and in this sense it was worn or used as a seal by ambassadors, kings, senators, and spiritual leaders, and used in this sense by priests as a symbol of veneration and their being with God.

Also in Rome, the custom of using rings for engagements and marriages had been widespread since ancient times. Once again the sense given to this ornamental object lay in the sense of stability that it expressed, but also in the expression of eternal union, a bond without beginning, without end, inseparability. On the occasion of the Sponsalia, the ceremonies that preceded the actual marriage service, after the various documents and legal agreements involving the spouses and their families were drawn up, the future bridegroom gave the fiancée a ring. It was not simply a gift, but a symbolic object with which the bridegroom tied the bride to himself, a chain that defined the possession of the latter by her husband. The woman, for her part, wearing the ring committed herself to belong only to the groom, and to be faithful to him forever. This ring was called anulus pronubus and was put on the penultimate finger of the left hand, the anularius, which was said to hide a vein connected directly to the heart.

Heraldry also acquired the symbolic meaning of a ring, offering it in various forms, as a sign of stability, eternal loyalty, and honour.

The symbolic value of the ring made it powerful even when it was broken. A broken ring foretold of calamities and misfortunes. When someone died, it was customary to remove the rings from their fingers, to make them easier to detach from this world. The Pope’s Fisherman’s ring was broken after his death. From this we also note the identification between the ring and earthly life.

In the Christian context, the ring is used in various ways and with different meanings.

There is the wedding ring, of course, which symbolizes the indissoluble bond that unites the spouses. As in Roman times, it is worn on the ring finger of the left hand, on the side of the heart.

Even some religious figures wear rings as a symbol of their union with the Church. We’re thinking of Bishops, who wear an Episcopal Ring on their right hands, as a sign of their fidelity to their dioceses, Abbots, Abbesses, and so on. Some communities of Nuns wear a ring as a sign of marriage to Jesus, referring to the tradition of Saint Catherine of Siena, who in one of her mystical visions claimed to have met Christ who, accompanied by the Virgin and a host of saints, gave a gift of a visible ring to her alone, with which he had married her and consecrated her to himself.

The use of rings as religious symbols remains to this day, and over recent years has undergone a revival with the spread of the prayer rings and rosary rings.

What does these entail?

Rosary rings

Rosary rings are genuine, miniature rosaries, which enable us to pray by turning the ring around a finger and rubbing the various beads with the thumb and forefinger. These rings are used in such a way as to present a small embossed crucifix and a series of raised grains, which are used just like those of the traditional rosary. Rosary rings, or ring rosaries, are also called dozens rosaries, and can be genuinely beautiful and refined objects, often enriched by precious stones, crystals, and made of noble metals like  gold, silver and platinum. This is why they can be important gifts for special occasions and ceremonies. Robust and resistant, they can be used at any time, in absolute practicality, even while engaged in other matters.

A rosary ring should be worn in the index finger of the dominant hand, just below the knuckle, so that it can be turned easily.

Naturally the gestures of the rosary ring differ from those of a traditional rosary. Here’s how you can pray with a rosary ring:

  1. Make the sign of the crossrosary rings
  2. Turn the rosary ring so your thumb can touch the crucifix engraved on it and recite the Creed and then the Our Father.
  3. Turn the rosary ring to the right (left if you are left-handed) until your thumb touches the beads placed three spaces from the cross. Recite the Ave Maria.
  4. Move your thumb on the forefinger, near the crucifix, on the left if you are right-handed, on the right if you are left-handed, and recite a second Ave Maria.
  5. Move your thumb to the next bead and press down as before. Recite the Hail Mary three times. Move your thumb to the crucifix, press down and recite the Gloria.
  6. With the thumb pressed on the crucifix recite the first mystery.
  7. Move your thumb to the right, closer to the grain of the crucifix, push down and recite three Hail Marys.
  8. Continue to turn the rosary and recite a Hail Mary for each bead. When you return to the crucifix, recite the Gloria.
  9. Recite the following Mystery, until you have reached the five mysteries for the day.
  10. Recite the Salve Regina, touching the crucifix after the fifth and last Gloria.
  11. Make the sign of the cross

Prayer rings

Another popular religious object is the prayer ring. This is a ring, usually made of steel, but also bronze or silver or decorated with coloured enamel, on the walls of which a prayer is engraved, most often the Our Father or Ave Maria. These are aesthetically very beautiful and special rings, which can be elegant and unique fashion accessories, but which also symbolise, to the faithful, a constant and continuous bond with God, a never exhausted dialogue that is consumed every day, in every small gesture. The prayer ring accompanies the wearer throughout the day, and becomes an excuse for many small moments of recollection, thoughts addressed to Jesus or the Madonna, whispered, like an invisible friend walking beside us, at all times.

In addition to being prestigious gifts, in their meaning of religious jewels and art objects, prayer rings are also purchased by those who want to use them for themselves, as instruments of faith and devotion. A pleasant routine in which to indulge, to remind you that you are never really alone.

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Electric candles: when a cult loses its sacredness Wed, 22 Aug 2018 12:51:40 +0000 When we think of a church, the first image that is formed in our mind is probably that of a known religious building, with a bell tower, the Cathedral of our city, or perhaps a place of worship that is particularly dear to us for […]

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When we think of a church, the first image that is formed in our mind is probably that of a known religious building, with a bell tower, the Cathedral of our city, or perhaps a place of worship that is particularly dear to us for sentimental reasons. only ours. The second image, almost certainly, will be a nave immersed in the dim light, illuminated by the light that rains with polychrome glass and leaded windows, and, invariably, by the golden glow of countless lighted candles.

There is, in the infancy of every Christian, the memory of that golden light, similar to dissolved gold, the smell of wax, its consistency between the fingers when, regardless of the recommendations of parents and grandparents, we could not resist the temptation of touch the white and smooth stems of the candles, letting a few of those transparent and hot spills burn their fingers.

It was a moment of great sacredness, one in which, with the coin that had been delivered to us, and which we held in our fist like an inestimable treasure, we were given permission to light a candle in front of the altar of the Madonna, or of a saint particularly expensive. The only gesture of putting the offer into the slot, of hearing the jingle on the bottom of the box, had within itself the rituality of a sacrifice.

Then there was the choice of the candle, among the many that protruded from the container placed next to the rack encrusted with ancient wax. They were all the same, apparently, all beautiful, untouched, perfumed, but in our childish desire to do well, to please Jesus with our gift, we had to be sure to choose the right one, the best possible.

Lighting the candle in the church

After a long reflection, made our choice, it was the most exciting moment: you had to light the candle, brushing an already lit one with the wick, and then choose the position in which to put it inCandles the rack, the free anchor that, by position and angle , fulfilled our expectations. Because it was important that that candle, our candle, chosen with care and reasoning, paid with the offer that we ourselves had put in the box, was positioned appropriately, and burned by consuming itself in its own wax in order to offer the light more hot and beautiful. Only in this way would Jesus, or Our Lady, listen to our silent prayers, and have fulfilled our desires: protect mum and dad, protect grandmother, protect my friends, my dog, my hamster; let me be good at school and good with my classmates; stay near the night, when I’m afraid, in the dark.

This done, they could leave, but inevitably, as we walked the aisle held by the mother’s hand, our eyes continued to run to the candle, our candle, in its light wavering and weak, but unique, among all others, our personal gift to God.

Lighting a wax candle and placing it in front of an altar, a Virgin Mary statue, or a chapel is a complex ritual of great spiritual depth, and not just for children. In that apparently banal gesture all the expectations of the faithful are concentrated, his hopes, his expectations, for himself and for those who love. There is a profound meaning in entering church, stealing time from everyday life, from the rush that dominates our days, devoting a moment to this gesture, choosing the right candle, like when we were children, and lighting it, with the thought turned to God , and maybe even to our son who has to do a task in class, or someone we love who is experiencing a difficult time, or has health problems. Lighting a candle in the church is already in itself a prayer, which does not require words, does not even require to be formulated. It’s a way of saying: I’m here, just to do this, I came out of my life to enter this church, offer my time and my whole thought to this single gesture. The lighting of a candle in the church in front of a statue, an altar, a sacred image or the SS. Sacramento, is a manifestation of faith that leaves a tangible, visible sign. It is as if we, leaving the church, wanted to leave a part of us inside, to pray, to ‘burn’ with faith, with love, just like the flame of a candle. The offer that we leave is always accompanied by a request, of protection, of blessing, a small grace for us or for those we love.

Things are a little bit today.

Electronic chandeliers and new solutions adopted

LED candlesIn most modern churches, but also in historical churches, the wrought iron racks have been replaced by electronic chandeliers of various types. In some cases their appearance recalls that of the old candlesticks, with wrought iron decorations, but much more often the design is more modern and essential, linear and clean. All in the electronic chandeliers talk about efficiency, safety and cleanliness. Meanwhile, the sacristan or one for him, no longer has to worry about supplying the appropriate container with candles, or cleaning the terminals with wax dissolved and then solidified. Indeed, many electronic chandeliers are complete with a glass cover, which prevents anyone from touching the fake candles, and the dust from settling between them. Everything is cleaner, therefore, but above all there is no smoke or soot. Technology that is behind the LED candles guarantees respect for the environment and low consumption. Furthermore, these candlesticks are easy to use for the elderly and safe for children: just insert a coin in the appropriate box and an electric candle will light up. It is also true that electronic chandeliers discourage theft, being equipped with security locks that close the boxes of offers, and also acts of vandalism small and large. Certainly no one will be able to steal the candles just for fun, even if damage to an electronic candlestick will certainly be more salty to pay than that done to a rack of wrought iron. But the proposals do not end here, if you think that the flame of a traditional candle has its charm, new solutions of LED technology also present candles with a flickering flame. I’m rechargeable led candles, suitable for any indoor environment, easy and safe to use.


Led candles: advantages and solutions

There are also more modern and technological models, in which the box for offers has been replaced by a touch screen monitor with a display on which to swipe your credit card. That’s right: no coin slot, but a practical and functional computerized system, where supply is not free, and where, instead of focusing on why you went to church to light a candle, you can read about it monitor a whole series of information on the services offered in the sanctuary, from the prices of the masses, to the fundraisers.

And here we want to stop for a moment.

It makes no sense to oppose progress, to reject the undoubted advantages it brings to us all, in every field, in every aspect of our existence. But perhaps it would be worth taking a moment to reflect. It is undoubted that the electric candles they offer an ecological and clean alternative to old wax candles, making the work of the cleaning staff easier and the neatness of the glance for those entering the church.

It is also true that for years there are excellent wax candles designed specifically for not soiling. That’s right: even if they are tilted, they do not drip, avoiding useless spills of liquid wax, encrustations, dirt, but keeping all the suggestion of the live flames, real, their pulsating heat, the vibrant expression of their life. A solution of this kind can be a reasonable middle ground. These non-dripping candles are also perfect for processions: they can be held in hand, moved, tilted, and do not let the wax fall on the skin or on the church floor.

Another alternative are the liquid wax candles, powered by refillable cartridges, also clean, safe, beautiful to behold.

The very important thing, however, in lighting a candle, whether wax, electronic, paid with the coins taken from the piggy bank, or with a credit card, is the meaning of the gesture itself, and there is no doubt that modern solutions , although functional and non-polluting, they appear to be a little weak on the aesthetic and symbolic level. It is true that an offer is made, in the name of a blessing or a grace, and it is true that a light is turned on, even if it is LED and automatic. The gestures are different, the effect is different, and maybe it’s just that part of us that remembers the smell of wax, the feeling that gave the smooth and intact candles with the fingers, to regret the old racks in wrought iron, with dusty curls blackened by soot, decorated with formidable wax sculptures that were melted and then clotted, which we enjoyed untangling and bringing home.

It is likely that the fate of candles in the church is inevitably to change, to follow technological progress and to offer higher standards of comfort, safety and efficiency. But many of us, inevitably, entering a church, will still seek the old racks, with their load of hopes and promises, their forest of dancing lights, unequal candles, each unique, unrepeatable, as is every prayer, as it is every man, woman, child who turns to God.

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Trees and plants in the Christian tradition Thu, 16 Aug 2018 08:47:19 +0000 In ancient times, the relationship between man and nature was much closer than itis today. Everyday life was inextricably linked to the alternation of the seasons, atmospheric precipitations, excessive heat, or excessive cold. Our ancestors certainly did not live an easy existence, victims of a […]

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In ancient times, the relationship between man and nature was much closer than itis today. Everyday life was inextricably linked to the alternation of the seasons, atmospheric precipitations, excessive heat, or excessive cold. Our ancestors certainly did not live an easy existence, victims of a world too big and insidious, for them, too difficult to subject, to control. The comforts and security that we tend to take for granted, the effective drugs against diseases that are trivial for us, but which once claimed thousands of victims, the services available today for everyone, are conquests that have arrived in a relatively long time short, for the history of mankind, infinitesimal in the life of our planet.

Now we want to take a step back, when man lived, willy-nilly, more in close contact with the environment around him, and his survival depended exclusively on how he would have been able to take advantage of the few resources made available to him, to feed, cover, protect yourself.

In this world the existence of man depended very largely on trees and plants. From these our ancestors drew nourishment, in the form of berries and fruits, timber to build huts, houses, palisades to defend themselves, firewood to illuminate the night and keep warm, but also precious distillates and remedies to cure diseases.

Precious allies, trees, faithful friends, but also mysterious, silent sentinels and, perhaps, guardians of ancestral knowledge. So they had to consider them as ancient men, because since the dawn of time the trees have been given great powers and a role of communication between the various levels of existence. In fact their roots sank in the ground, their trunks grew robust and lush on the surface, and their tops soared towards the sky, sometimes getting lost in the clouds. It is not difficult to imagine how, in the minds of our ancestors, this prodigious development coincided with the ability to connect the world of the Underworld, that of Men and that of the Gods.

Not only that, but often the trees were assimilated directly to the deities. There is no religion of the past that does not contemplate myths about trees. For example, the ancient Egyptians believed that the goddess Nut shed the water of immortality on the soul of the dead from a Sycamore tree, while for the Scandinavians the birth of the universe itself was linked to that of Yggdrasill, an immense ash tree. , which was rooted in the past, present and future, and embraced with its foliage all the earth and sky. For the Sioux, a large tree was at the center of the Circle of the World.

The Greek myths are then very rich in references to the trees: think of the golden apples in the garden of the Hesperides, which gave immortality, to the olive tree sacred to Athena, to the laurel and cypress dear to Apollo, and so on.

Religious and esoteric symbols are often inspired by trees or parts of trees. The tree of life is a universal image, a powerful archetype that takes on infinite forms. The ancient Egyptians often portrayed onions in the hieroglyphs and in the pharaohs’ tombs: for them they were very effective to pass through the afterlife. The cypress, born from the metamorphosis of the young Ciparisso by Apollo, has always been a symbol of mourning and eternity.

Even the Christian tradition has attached great importance to plants.

Ancient and New Testament contain numerous mentions to plants, flowers and shrubs. Others have been associated over time to the cult of Our Lady, of Jesus or of some saints. We want to examine those that seem to us more significant and interesting.

Spruce, Peccio (Picea abies)

It may seem trivial to want to start from the fir tree, what we all know as children as a Christmas tree, but it is not. Before becoming a symbol of Christendom, associated with the Resurrection ofChristmas tree red Christ, like all evergreens, the Fir was a tree that recalled the idea of ​​longevity and immortality. In antiquity the Fir was used for sacrificial fires and divination. The Celts associated it with fertility, the Greeks with hope. The diffusion of the Christmas trees, partly out of Christian symbolism, it has nevertheless linked it to a sense of warmth, joy and family that goes well with the Christmas tradition. The Christmas Tree recalls the beginning of the annual cycle and therefore of life. The spruce instead it represents Christ in his human incarnation, as a symbol of sacrifice, death and eternal life.

Acacia, Robinia (Robinia pseudoacacia)

The wood of Acacia is very hard and resistant, which is why the various religions have attributed to this plant the idea of ​​strength, of vigor. Among the Egyptians and the Chinese it was a tree linked to knowledge. In Egyptian culture in particular Acacia was the initiatory tree: it was believed that many Egyptian deities were born under the Acacias, and the tree itself was a symbol of the transition from ignorance to knowledge. In the biblical context it is worth remembering that the Noah’s Ark was built entirely from the hard acacia wood.

Judea tree (Cercis siliquastrum)

Originally from Israel, this tree is also called the “Tree of Judah”. According to the Christian tradition it would be the tree to which Judas hanged himself after betraying Jesus. The flowers that bloom directly from the trunk symbolize the tears of Christ, while their deep pink color represents the shame of Judas for his frightful crime.

AloeAloe (Aloe vera)

Known since ancient times for its extraordinary pharmaceutical properties, Aloe was used by the Egyptians to embalm corpses. Even the body of Jesus should have followed the same destiny. In fact it is said that Nicodemus brought the Aloe to perfume the sheet and, presumably, to embalm it. For many ancient cultures, Aloe was a symbol of eternal life, of immortality.


It’s very sweet scent has earned it the name of “grass of the angels”, or even “grass of the archangels”, since Raffaele himself would have made known his exceptional healing powers to men.

Effective against many diseases and disorders, in ancient times it was placed around the necks of children to protect them from harm.

Aquilegia (Aquilegia vulgaris)

Aquilegia is also known as the “Gloves of our Lady”. It owes this original name to its bizarre shape: in fact its flowers are formed by five horns with petals that recall the fingers of one hand, the hand of the Madonna, in fact.

Mary’s thistle (Silybum marianum)

Typical of warm and sunny areas, the cardo di Maria is linked to the legend that, during the flight from Judea to Egypt to escape Herod, Maria hid the little Jesus under a thistle bush to feed him. A little of his milk fell on the plant, whose leaves have since then white ribs.

Carrubo (Ceratonia siliqua)

Together with the Cedar, Aloe and Fico, the Carob tree was widespread in Galilee. It does not have a particular symbolic meaning, but it is remembered because it appears in the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Cedar (Cedrus)

Originally from China and India, it was the first citrus to be grown in Israel. Tradition has it that the temple of Jerusalem, the palace of Solomon and the Labyrinth of Minos, had majestic columnspalm for nativity scene in resin 80cm of Cedar of Lebanon supporting the ceilings.

During the Feast of Tabernacles the Jews used its foliage, along with palm branches and myrtle branches. Around the world, palm is a type of tree that is always included in the cribs. There palm for nativity scene symbolizes the connection between man and the mysteries of life. It also constitutes a constant during the holy week period. The Jews use cedar fruits during their celebrations. Cedar is a tree that also symbolizes knowledge.

Onion (Allium cepa)

If for the Egyptians the onion was a pass for the afterlife and for the Greeks an emblem of valour and courage linked to the God of War Ares, in the Bible it is a symbol of sin and falsity. The pain and discomfort caused to the eyes by the onion recall the guilt of those who commit sin, while the many layers of which it is composed represent deception and deception.

Fig tree (Ficus)

The Fico recurs as a symbolic tree in many religions and cultures, from Islam to Christianity and Judaism, but also in Hinduism. He was already known and appreciated in ancient Greece, where he was associated with Dionysus and Athena. It is mentioned both in the Old and in the New Testament. In fact it was one of the seven plants of the Promised Land. In all civilizations it has always represented roughly the same values: abundance, fecundity, prosperity, earthly and otherworldly happiness, but also strength, light and knowledge.

Wheat (Durum wheat)

WheatWheat is one of the most cited plants in the Bible. Its importance is obvious, given that the flour obtained from it was at the base of the feeding of the territories that act as theatre to the events of the Bible, consumed in the form of semolina, bread, focaccia, etc. In ancient civilizations, wheat was a symbol of rebirth and the alternation of the seasons. In fact, the cereal remains buried under the ground and then born in spring, just as the soul passes from shadow to light. Among the Egyptians he was associated with Osiris, among the Greeks at Demeter.

In the Christian context, Jesus is associated with the seed of wheat that dies in the earth to be reborn, to the ear cornered by men, to the grains sifted. From all this suffering, from all this violence, it is born in nourishment that allows us to live. As Jesus died for all of us, his example, his words, his memory are seeds that fall and take root in the fertile earth of our hearts, to produce new good fruits.

Lily (Lilium)

Symbol of beauty and purity par excellence, but also of virginity and fecundity, the Lily is a beautiful flower, with an intoxicating scent.

For the Jews it was a symbol of beauty and fertility, for Christians it is associated with the concepts of sanctity and resurrection. In Christian iconography it is associated with the Virgin, and St. Joseph is often represented with a stick from which lilies bloom.

Almond (Prunus dulcis)

Being the first tree to blossom with the beautiful season, it has been considered by many ancient civilizations as a symbol of fertility, rebirth and resurrection. In the Bible it is often cited as a symbol of God’s promise of salvation to the chosen people. From the stick of Aronne sprouted white flowers that gave an almond fruit. Instead, the Christian tradition associates it with the Virgin, once virgin and fruitful.

Apple tree (Malus domestica)

The apple tree occurs in many mythological traditions, being a very diffused tree. In Greek mythology the apple fruit is the protagonist of many myths, from that of the golden apples kept in the garden of the Hesperides, which gave immortality, to the pommel of discord, disputed between three goddesses and donated by Paride to Elena, which triggered the Trojan War. In Scandinavian mythology, apples were the food of the gods.

In the Jewish and Christian context, as we all know, the apple was the forbidden fruit, which brought knowledge to those who tasted it, and which determined the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the earthly Paradise.

Olive tree, or Olive tree (Olea europaea)

Considered by many peoples and civilizations of the past a sacred tree and a symbol of peace. In ancient Greece there was the leader of the winning athletes and it was dear to Athena, who hadOlive tree given it to the men. In honour of the goddess, the Ulivo also became a symbol of chastity.

In Jewish culture it was instead a symbol of justice and wisdom. When the Flood ended, Noah sent a dove in recognition, and it returned with a branch of Olive tree in its beak, a sign that the wrath of God had subsided and the men had been forgiven.

On the feast of the palms, in the Christian context, the olive tree represents Jesus who, dying on the cross and sacrificing himself, becomes a symbol of reconciliation between God and men. Moreover, Jesus was welcomed to Jerusalem by a crowd that waved palm fronds and branches of Olivo, and spent his last night in the Garden of Olives.

Olive fruits also have a strong religious value: olive oil is at the base of the Chrism, with here the celebrants baptize the new born, mark the boys who receive the Confirmation, consecrate the new priests and impart the extreme unction.


Passiflora, or “flower of the Passion” recalls the Passion of Christ, whose emblem is the same: the pistil has three stigmata that symbolize the nails of the cross, five specks that recall the five wounds of Jesus, while the corolla presents 72 filaments like 72 were the thorns of the crown on the head of Our Lord, and twelve petals as twelve were the apostles. Again, its leaves are sharp, like spearheads and within the flower there are 30 rounded slits, like the 30 denarius for which Judas betrayed Jesus.

Buttercup (Ranunculus acris)

Symbol of beauty and wealth, but also of their transience, being a very beautiful flower, but that lasts very little. It often occurs in the Bible. According to tradition, Jesus transformed the stars into Ranuncoli to make a gift to his mother, Our Lady, which is why these flowers are used to decorate the altars during Holy Week.

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The hour of Mercy Tue, 14 Aug 2018 10:28:13 +0000 Mercy This is a word that often comes up when we talk about Our Lord. Mercy: origin and meaning The term derives from the Latin misereor (I have mercy) and cor -cordis (heart), but conceptually it has always existed, in the context of the Christian […]

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Mercy This is a word that often comes up when we talk about Our Lord.

Mercy: origin and meaning

The term derives from the Latin misereor (I have mercy) and cor -cordis (heart), but conceptually it has always existed, in the context of the Christian religion. We could define it as a kind of profound empathy, a movement of compassion inspired by the suffering of others. It is a feeling that moves the heart to pity when confronted by the physical or spiritual pain of another person, which pushes us to open up, to cloak, with a transcendent and beneficial embrace, those who are near to us, to help them, and to save them.

Mercy is a fundamental component in the life of a Christian. It is no coincidence that many of the religious and secular brotherhoods, have always engaged in the works of charity and in helping the needy, have names that derive from Mercy, or contain it. One thinks of the Venerable Arciconfraternita della Misericordia, founded in Florence in the thirteenth century to help plague victims, the Priests of Mercy, the Sisters of Mercy, the Daughters of Mercy, and so on.

The Catholic religion holds this sentiment in high esteem, as the true impulse of the Christian, an internal impulse that manifests itself in generous actions, good works, charitable and human attitudes towards the less fortunate and, in general, towards all brothers.

The Madonna is often invoked as Madonna della Mercede (of Mercy), depicted as she opens her own large cloak to welcome the faithful around her, offering them its shelter and protection.

In the Old Testament, it is written that God is merciful. In the Book of Exodus, for example, he addresses Moses thus: “The Lord, God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love and fidelity” (34.6).

A merciful Father, therefore, who loves his children with tenderness, who protects them, helps them, is ready to give himself entirely for their welfare, and their salvation. A Love that does not need to be returned to be love, like that of a mother, without any limits, almost thoughtless. A special love addressed to all of us, in the name of which God became human and sacrificed himself, accepting a cruel and unjust death, enduring the greatest of evils, to give us hope.

The hour of Mercy

The Misericordia takes on a further specific meaning if associated with a particular context, at a particular moment in the life of Jesus: we speak of the Hour of Mercy.

Whenever you hear the clock striking three o’clock, remember to immerse yourself in My Mercy, to adore and exalt it;  invoking his omnipotence for the entire world and particularly for the

Merciful Jesus Val Gardena
Divine Mercy with
blue and red rays

poor sinners, since it was at that hour that he threw himself open for every soul (1572)”

These words were written in the diary of Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska, a young Polish nun, a propagator of devotions to the merciful Jesus and considered to be the Apostle of Divine Mercy.

The Hour of Mercy corresponds to three o’clock in the afternoon, the exact time Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday. The climax of His agony, the moment of His death.

Sister Maria Faustina contributed enormously towards disseminating the cult of Divine Mercy. Her intense mystic life, the numerous visits she received from Christ, led to codification of this particular form of devotion and to the representations of the Merciful Jesus, who is portrayed dressed in a white robe, with one hand raised in a blessing, the other placed on his chest, from which two huge rays depart, one red and the other white.

Good Friday. At three o’clock I saw Jesus Crucified looking at me and saying, “I am thirsty.” Suddenly, I saw that the same two rays in the picture came out of His side. At the same time I felt in my soul a great desire to save souls and to destroy myself for poor sinners. Along with Jesus in agony, I offered myself to the Eternal Father for the salvation of the world. With Jesus, for Jesus and in Jesus, I am united with You, Eternal Father“(Diary of Santa Faustina, #648).

An invitation to prayer, therefore, but also an invitation to Mercy, to sacrifice for the weakest and  most unfortunate of our brothers. The vision of Jesus aroused in the Holy the uncontrollable desire to imitate him, to sacrifice themselves like him for the salvation of sinners, and of all the souls of the world. Because in the moment of the greatest sorrow He was capable of the most immense love, a love that brought us closer to God and makes us part of His Mystery.

It was Jesus who asked the Saint to paint an image that would show the way, so that it could be understood by everyone and venerated. Jesus also told her that he wanted the first Sunday after Easter to become the feast of Mercy.

Pope St. John Paul II, who beatified Sr. Maria Faustina, confirmed the feast of Mercy on that day.

The chaplet of the Divine Mercy

In another revelation, Jesus taught Sister Maria Faustina a special prayer: the Chaplet of Divine Mercy .  Jesus accompanied this gift with the words: “My mercy will envelop in life, and at the hour of death, those souls who recite this chaplet.”

Rosary with Padre Pio and Merciful Jesus in wood
Rosary with Merciful Jesus in wood

In fact, the Chaplet of Mercy ensures the grace of conversion and the forgiveness of all sins, especially if recited at the point of death.

In particular, the Chaplet manifests all its effectiveness if recited in conjunction with the Hour of Mercy. Reciting it at three o’clock in the afternoon, the time Jesus’ death is honoured, one meditates on his agony, and on his immense sacrifice. From this meditation and the prayer that accompanies it, the spirit should feel in some way infected by the Mercy of God, which thanks to the faith and the devotion of those who pray, extends to the entire world, even to the most undeserving, in an outpouring of love and pity.

Whenever you hear the clock striking three o’clock, remember to immerse yourself in My Mercy, to adore and exalt it;  invoking His omnipotence for the entire world and for poor sinners in particular, since it was at that hour that he threw himself open, for all souls (1572).” In that hour, you will receive everything, for yourself and for others. At that hour grace was granted to the whole world – Mercy was victorious for justice“(Diary of Santa Faustina, 1572).

[…] At that time, try to do the Via Crucis if your commitments allow it, and if you cannot do the Via Crucis, enter the chapel at least for a time and honour my heart, that in the SS. Sacramento, is full of mercy. And if you cannot go to the chapel, gather in prayer at least for a brief time where you are […] In that hour, you will get everything for yourself and for others (Diary of Santa Faustina, 1572). In that hour, I will not refuse anything to the soul that prays for My Passion“(Diary of Santa Faustina, 1320).

Therefore, the practice of the Hour of Mercy is training for the soul, as well as a way to protect and guarantee salvation to all. It is enough to dedicate a brief moment of prayer to God, at three o’clock in the afternoon, to gather for a in a private and special conversation with Him, to feel part of His plan of love, and to remember how precious and unique it is.

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The apparitions of Our Lady of Guadaloupe Tue, 07 Aug 2018 14:57:49 +0000 By the Apparitions of Guadalupe, we refer to the four appearances of Our Lady to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec convert to Christianity. These apparitions took place within a few days of each other in December 1531, on Tepeyac hill, near Mexico City. The definition […]

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By the Apparitions of Guadalupe, we refer to the four appearances of Our Lady to Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, an Aztec convert to Christianity. These apparitions took place within a few days of each other in December 1531, on Tepeyac hill, near Mexico City. The definition Apparitions of Guadalupe comes from the Monastery of Guadalupe, and perhaps also from the Aztec expression Coatlaxopeuh, which means “she who crushes the serpent” (see Genesis 3: 14-15), which, when transliterated into Spanish refers to the Madonna. In any event, Our Lady, and in particular, the Statues of the Virgen of Guadaloupe, have since become a symbol of the veneration of all Spanish-speaking countries, and of South America in particular. Its appearance makes it particularly dear to the people who venerate it: in fact it is represented as a young dark-skinned girl, with features that resemble mestizo girls, who share common features with the native Indians and the current inhabitants of Mexico. The faithful turn to her as ”Virgen Morenita”.

With over 20 million pilgrims visiting it every year, the Abbey of Our Lady of Guadaloupe, which is built at the place the apparitions took place, is one of the most visited places of worship in the world, attracting even more pilgrims than Lourdes and Fatima, and is the first in America. The Abbey, which stands where there was once a small chapel, which then became a Sanctuary, is home to the cloak of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin; this bears the image of the Virgin and is the object of a veneration comparable only to that dedicated to the Holy Shroud. The Madonna of Guadaloupe has a surprising devotional following, not only because of the many miraculous events that have characterised it over the centuries, but also because of the amazing properties of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin’s cloak, with its mysterious imprinted image, the miraculous origins of which countless scientific studies and increasingly accurate examinations have been unable to disprove to this day.

The fact that Mary Most Holy showed herself surrounded by flowers and celestial music, which promised salvation and protection to all people who speak nāhuatl, the uto-Aztec language spoken in Mexico, was the reason for the immediate spread of this cult. To the indigenous population of South America, the Madonna of Guadalupe has come to represent a sort of element of continuity with the ancient gods, making the transition from paganism to the new religion easier and more comprehensible for the native Mexicans. In just a few years, especially thanks to the dark-skinned Virgin with her Latino face, almost nine million indigenous people have accepted the faith and converted. So the history and cult around this Madonna have served as a keystone for the spread of Christianity in a country, which for so long has been devastated by violence, with too much innocent blood spilled by the hands of those who presented themselves under an effigy of the crucifix to justify their prevarications. Our Lady of Guadalupe has succeeded where the arrogance of the conquistadors failed.
On 12 October, 1895, Pope Leo XIII declared the Coronation Day of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Pope John Paul II defined this dark-skinned Madonna as the “Mother of the two Americas”.

The apparitions of Our Lady of Guadaloupe

The apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe took place ten years after the fall of the Aztec empire, and eleven years after the arrival of the conquistadores. The political and religious climate was not at its best. The new rulers of those distant lands mistreated the natives, and even made life difficult for missionaries who had set out to evangelise them. The indigenous people, accustomed for centuries to worshipping deities who claimed tributes of blood, struggled to understand the true meaning of the Gospel message, and, as accomplices to the violence and abuse they were subjected to daily by their new masters, lived in the terror of an imminent end of the world.

In this bloody scenario dominated by fear, the apparitions that involved Juan Diego turned out to be a glimmer of light, a message of hope in the most gloomy despair.

The Madonna appeared for the first time in India on 9 December, 1531, in the guise of a young mestiza woman, wrapped in clothes that shone like the sun. After presenting herself as the Virgin Mary, she ordered Juan Diego to go to the Bishop and tell him that he should build a church on the hill.

After the first disbelieving reaction from the Bishop, Our Lady once again appeared to Juan Diego, encouraging him to go back the next day to talk to him and convince him.  The Bishop still showed himself as a sceptic and demanded some sort of sign. The Madonna appeared for the third time as a native, promising to appear to him the next day, but Juan Diego could not visit the hill in those days, because he had to help a sick uncle.

He returned there on 12 December, while he went to look for a priest who gave his uncle’s final unction at the end of his life, ashamed of having missed the meeting with the Virgin. In fear of meeting her, he made a wide circle, but Maria appeared to him for the fourth and last time, on a golden cloud. He reassured him about his uncle’s health and told him to get on the hill, pick some flowers and bring them to the Bishop. Juan Diego obeyed, and climbed the hill, which at that time was barren and barren, but he found it covered with beautiful roses of Castile. He collected so many that he had to undo the tilmàtli, a cloak composed of two sheets of agave fiber sewn together, and use it to contain them all. With his load on his shoulders he went to the Bishop and in front of him and to other people he untied his cloak. But when the flowers were spilled, the image of the Blessed Virgin appeared imprinted on the rough fabric.

From that moment no one doubted the words of Juan Diego anymore. A chapel was immediately erected in the place indicated by him, and inside was placed the miraculous mantle. It is still kept in the Abbey that now stands in place of the first, humble construction, protected in a glass case and venerated as the most precious of relics. It is said that on December 26, 1531, while a procession wore the cloak in the newly built chapel, a young dancer killed by an arrow was placed at the foot of the tilmatli and immediately resurrected.

The cloak of Juan Diego

The tilmàtli of Juan Diego has always been kept in the Abbey of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Even when, in 1921, a terrorist detonated a bomb beneath the altar that hosted his garment, the cloak emerged unscathed.

The tilmàtli, or Tilma, is a rough cape, formed from two sheets of agave fibre fabric sewn together with a white thread. The image of the Virgin that is imprinted onto it is 143 centimetres high. The Madonna has dark skin, like an Indios – the features are neither European nor native Mexican, but an equal mix. She is wrapped in a pink dress with flowers, and in a sea-blue veil of golden stars that covers her head and descends to the ground. She stands on a golden moon and twelve rays of sunlight frame her face.

As one might expect, the tilma of Juan Diego has been subjected to countless scientific examinations over the years since 1666.

Since then scholars have asserted that such a clear image could not have been painted in oil or tempera on such a rough and untreated fabric, and that even if it was remotely possible, the passage of time would have irreparably damaged the painting.

In 1751, a new inspection, conducted by seven painters, reached the same conclusions: the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe could not be a painting, because the colours were entirely incorporated into the surface and their conservation would have been impossible under any circumstances. So the mantle of Juan Diego is considered to be acheropita , “not made by human hands”, like the Shroud that’s preserved in Turin, which represents the image of Jesus imprinted on the sheet in which He was wrapped after being taken down from the Cross.

The tilma has been the subject of many other prodigious events.

In 1791, some workers were cleaning the frame that it was mounted on, and inadvertently left a few drops of an aqueous solution of 50% nitric acid on the fabric, which should have irreparably damaged both the colours and the fibres of the fabric. Instead of which, the liquidò evaporated without leaving any trace, apart from a slight halo which subsequently faded over time.

An in-depth analysis of the fabric that was performed in 1936 reaffirmed there was no trace of dyes on it of any kind, as if, indeed, the image had not been painted by human hands. This was also indicated by the fact that, over the centuries, painted figures have been added to the tilma, but have faded and been erased, whilst the original image remains clear and perfect.

In 1929, amongst other things, it was discovered that the figures of Juan Diego and other witnesses to the miracle of the roses were reflected in Mary’s pupils. Between 1956 and 1958, new examinations were performed with more up to date and sophisticated machinery, and showed that these figures could not have been painted, because their angles could not be reproduced, even by photography. Studies of the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe have continued over the years,  and are still going on to this day, enriching the history of these prodigious apparitions with ever more significant and convincing details.

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The roles of Altar Servers Tue, 31 Jul 2018 13:50:46 +0000 Altar Servers, more commonly known as altar boys, are children or teenagers who assist a priest during Mass. Their name comes from the Latin word “ministrare” which means ‘’to serve’’. Their role is recognized by the Conciliar Constitution as an integral part of the liturgic […]

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Altar Servers, more commonly known as altar boys, are children or teenagers who assist a priest during Mass. Their name comes from the Latin word “ministrare” which means ‘’to serve’’. Their role is recognized by the Conciliar Constitution as an integral part of the liturgic office, and as such demands conduct and behaviour from those who serve that is in keeping with it. Altar Servers must follow the example of Jesus, who did not hesitate to place himself at the whole of humanity’s service, and even sacrificed himself. Not only during services, but also throughout everyday life, Altar Servers must live by following His example of love, generosity, commitment and precision. Altar Servers are Jesus’ ‘friends’, usually young people full of enthusiasm and willingness to take part in the activities of the Church by offering their contributions of love and devotion. In the history of the Church there have been many characters who could represent the ideal model for Altar Servers, like Saint Tarcisius, who lived in the era of the first Christian communities in Rome and was killed by his pagan peers because he had made himself available to carry the Blessed Sacrament to Christians prisoners, or Saint Dominic Savio, who had Saint John Bosco as a teacher and guide, and devoted his (unfortunately short) life to his brothers and the community.

The different tasks during the Mass

The role of Altar Servers is particularly delicate if we think of them as representing a point of union between those who celebrate the Mass and the believers who have gathered to hear it. In fact, besides cooperating with the Divine Server by helping him arrange what is required for the Eucharist, placing the liturgical objects on the altar and bringing the Missal, the Altar Servers also have to pray together with the believers, accompany them with hymns and, in general, operate as the priests’ servants and guides for the congregation. Everything takes place whilst maintaining a proper attitude, carrying out tasks and repeating gestures that have been codified by centuries of tradition.

Altar Servers are not the only assistants of the officiant during Mass: generally readers, choristers, acolytes move alongside them. In certain cases the roles are interchangeable, but, as a rule, each of the participants keeps up his / her role, carries out his / her duties and actively participates in the celebration. Particularly solemn ceremonies, such as on the occasion of important religious feasts, will require a bigger number of Altar Servers.

The Altar Servers therefore carry out various tasks in the context of the Mass, and are named after them, to distinguish themselves from each other.

The Thurifer is, for instance, the Altar Server who carries the thurible for incensings. Incense has always been used during religious ceremonies, to give them solemnity and sacredness. Its use is nonetheless optional, and occurs at different times of the Mass, usually at the beginning, on the entrance of the priest and his assistants, when the Gospel is being preached or before the consecration. Other occasions, like processions, burials and blessings, allow the use of incense. On these occasions in particular, the role of the Thurifers becomes extremely important.

Often the Thurifer accompanies a “Navicularius, the Altar Server assigned to the incense boat. During processions, the “Navicularius” walks alongside the Thurifer, so much so that sometimes both roles can be merged into a single Altar Server. The duty of the “Navicularius” is to hand the priest the incense boat, so he can draw the grains of incense, pour them into the thurible and bless them.

The Ceroferari Ministrants

Another Altar Server who can’t be missed out, particularly during the most important processions and celebrations, is the Ceroferario or rather, the Ceroferari, because they usually move in pairs. processional crossThese are the candle holders who bear the candles. During the procession, their position is behind the Thurifer and at the sides of the Crociferi, the priest charged with carrying the cross. They carry the candlesticks with the candles in their hands, and, having reached the end of the procession, place them on the sides of the altar.

Subsequently, the Ceroferari must accompany the priest during the proclamation of the Gospel, always standing on both sides.

As we mentioned when we were talking about the Ceroferari, the Crosifero or cruciferi is/are the minister charged with carrying a processional cross, or a cross mounted on top of a long pole, which usually leads religious processions. Once they arrive at the altar, the Crocifero lays the cross next to him and sits down. He takes it up again at the end of the ceremony, to accompany the priest to kiss the altar, to put the Blessed Sacrament into the tabernacle, and during the final procession. The custom of carrying the cross in a procession is very ancient. In addition to giving the celebration the necessary solemnity, the passage of the Crociferi also serves a very strong symbolic function, particularly during funeral processions: in fact, the passage of the cross symbolises the passage from death to life, which involves all the faithful who are supporters. Through the cross, God becomes present and manifest amongst the gathered faithful, and once the cross is placed in the church, next to the altar, His presence is perceived more intensely than ever.

Some of the servers are in charge of dealing with the liturgical books the priest needs during the ceremony. There’s no specific name for them, it’s usually a task performed by one acolyte, who’s assigned to the missal and the lectionary – the book containing passages from Holy Scriptures that are read during liturgical celebrations throughout the year, as well as the prayer books, and books of hymns, etc.

The Altar Server responsible for the books takes them from the altar to the pulpit, which is the raised structure for readings, and from the pulpit to the altar. They have to support the book whilst its being read, where this is necessary, and bring the lectionary and place it on the altar during the entrance procession.

The function of the Ceremonieri and Caudatario

Particular acolytes, called Ceremonieri, have the  task of bringing the sacred items needed to celebrate the Eucharistic from the sacristy to the altar, and vice versa, starting with the chalice,Altar linen with the corporale (the square cloth used to cover the chalice which is then laid down on the altar during the offertory), and the purificator (the small cloth used by the priest to dry his lips after drinking and cleaning the chalice and paten), and then brings the paten (the plate containing the host) and the ampoules of wine and water. The ministers serving the altar also have to prepare the water and purificator with which the celebrant washes his hands.

The Caudatorio, or Train-bearer is the Altar Server charged with supporting the pastoral and the mitre, and to do this he wears the Vimpa, a long robe with pockets. In the past it was the Altar Servers who had to support the train of the high priests during solemn celebrations. Caudatories were assigned to the Pope, Cardinals and Bishops, and for each of these positions, the ceremonial included different talari robes and a different ritual.

In solemn ceremonies, there are also a few Altar Servers whose task is to play the altar bell, whose purpose in the past was to draw the attention of the faithful during the most salient moments of the ceremony. Nowadays, the Servers mainly use it at the time the bread and wine is consecrated, or during processions to announce the blessing is imminent.

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Way of the Cross for children: how to tell your child about the 14 stations Wed, 25 Jul 2018 08:07:32 +0000 It is not easy to explain certain things to a child. Not even for modern children, used to witnessing impressive scenes on television every day, bombarded on all sides by disturbing images, suggestions, media solicitations completely disrespectful of their age, the fragile condition of their […]

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It is not easy to explain certain things to a child. Not even for modern children, used to witnessing impressive scenes on television every day, bombarded on all sides by disturbing images, suggestions, media solicitations completely disrespectful of their age, the fragile condition of their psyche still so malleable. Indeed, seeing and knowing, albeit superficially, aspects of life that were hidden from their peers years ago, or at least that they came through mediated by the experience and filter of an adult, makes them even more exposed to error, confusion, existential uncertainty that characterizes our time.

In movies, even in cartoons, they see men hit with violence, killed by other men. For them it becomes normal, they can hardly give the right weight, the right dimension to death.

Via Crucis, a story of love

But how can you explain to a child the story of a man torn from the affection of his friends, his mother, dragged through an angry mob, to be subjected to the judgment of other men, completely unworthy to judge him, and then beaten, scourged, crowned with thorns, and finally nailed to a cross, amid the shouts of jubilation of an angry mob?

So it really seems the plot of a story of terror, or a fact of news recently happened, perhaps even in our country … Instead it is the story of the most beautiful Love that has ever been told, the story of a man who sacrificed himself for all other men, who did not hesitate to sacrifice himself to guarantee hope to his own executioners. It is the story of Jesus, naturally, and in particular of the Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, his painful path along the road that led him to Mount Golgotha.

The Church recalls this devotional path since the XIII century. It is probable that the practice was born in the Franciscan context, but there are no certain sources. Certainly there was born of the need for the faithful to make a pilgrimage of faith and penance in the places that had seen the Passion of Jesus. Since it was not possible for everyone to go there, someone thought to make representations of the various episodes that marked the painful path and make them ‘stations’ along which pilgrims could stop and pray.

Progressively in the convents and in the churches began these paths, consisting of fourteen stations, plus a fifteenth with the Resurrection. Those who devote themselves to this devotional practice enjoyed the same indulgences granted to those who went to the Holy Land.

The Via Crucis stations are the following:Via Crucis stations

  1. Jesus is condemned to death
  2. Jesus is loaded with the cross
  3. For the first time, in
  4. Jesus meets his mother
  5. Jesus is helped to carry the cross by Simon of Cyrene
  6. Saint Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
  7. Jesus falls for the second time
  8. Jesus warns the women of Jerusalem
  9. Jesus falls for the third time
  10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
  12. Jesus dies on the cross
  13. Jesus is deposed from the cross
  14. The body of Jesus is placed in the sepulchre
  15. (Jesus rises again)

But let’s get back to the initial problem: how do you explain the Via Crucis to children?

We could begin by explaining what Lent is, the period of forty days that precedes Easter, which serves to prepare us for this event that is so great and important for the life of each of us.

We will have to explain to them that Easter reminds us that Jesus died for the salvation of men, but who then rose, as he had promised, bringing joy and hope to everyone, and that every year we remember his death and his resurrection and all the love that he showed us.

In the name of this love he chose to let himself be mistreated by men like us who did not understand how important and precious he was.

We will then have to tell them that during every Friday of Lent we remember the pain of Jesus through the Via Crucis, that is the “way of the cross”, which recalls the path of Jesus through the streets of Jerusalem to Mount Golgotha, where he was killed.

The 14 stations of the Via Crucis

  1. Jesus is condemned to death

The soldiers brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate, who was the governor of that territory. Pilate, however, did not want to judge him, because it seemed to him that Jesus had done nothing wrong, and so he sent him to King Herod, who instead hated Jesus, because he proclaimed himself Messiah and King, and Herod did not like that there was another King to compete with him. So he teased Jesus, making him cover with a cloak those purple, which was the colour with which the sovereigns were dressed, in fact, and then sent him back to Pilate. But he was still undecided, and so he asked the crowd if they preferred to condemn Jesus or the bandit Barabbas to death, and the crowd chose to save Barabbas, even though he was a criminal.

  1. Jesus is loaded with the cross

tell your child about the 14 stationsJesus was stripped and the Roman soldiers put a heavy wooden cross on his shoulders, forcing him to carry it along the road, towards a mountain that rose just outside the city, Mount Golgotha. That was how those condemned to death were punished.

  1. For the first time, in

Jesus was weak and tired, and he could not support that heavy cross. In addition, the soldiers beat him and he was wounded. At one point he fell under the weight of the cross, but immediately got up, painfully, and resumed his journey.

  1. Jesus meets his mother

As Jesus walked carrying the cross, two wings of crowds crowded in his passage, insulting him and making fun of him. At one point in the crowd also appeared Mary, the mother of Jesus, who cried desperately to see what was happening, how much pain is suffering his son.

  1. Jesus is helped by the Cyrenian

Since Jesus was harder and harder to carry the cross, the soldiers forced a man to help him. His name was Simon the Cyrenian, and for a while he helped Jesus carrying the cross on his shoulders, but then he had to leave him alone again.

  1. Saint Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

A kind girl, Veronica, saw Jesus suffering so much, and while the soldiers were not looking he approached him and gently wiped his face with a cloth, collecting tears and sweat. Legend has it that the face of Jesus remained impressed on that cloth, as in a photograph.

  1. Jesus falls for the second time

Jesus fell a second time, more and more exhausted, more and more painful, but once again he got up, to move forward, towards his destiny. And all this just for our sakes.

  1. Jesus comforts women

Even though he was suffering so much, even though he was hurt and bleeding and could not take it anymore, Jesus still found the strength to console the women who, seeing him so battered, wept desperately. Even though he was so ill, it was he who strengthened them, encouraged them, put himself aside even in that terrible moment. Because when you love someone, you can forget your pain to make others feel better, even in the darkest moments.

  1. Jesus falls for the third time

Once again Jesus fell, amid the laughter of the crowd, and once again stood up, slowly, with the last remaining forces.

  1. Jesus is stripped of his clothes

Arrived near Golgotha, the soldiers completely stripped Jesus and played his poor clothes in the dice.

  1. Jesus is crucified

Jesus finally arrived at the top of Mount Golgotha. The soldiers made him lie on the cross and nailed his hands and feet to the wood. Jesus, instead of shouting and complaining, said, turning to God the Father: “Father, forgive them because they do not know what they do.” And it was true, because those foolish men who laughed seeing his pain had no idea what they were doing, who were killing the Son of God, who came to Earth only for our sake!

  1. Jesus dies on the cross

Exhausted by suffering, Jesus eventually died on the cross. Shortly before, however, he turned again to God the Father, asking him: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Now he was tired, desperate, upset by so much pain, so much ferocity by those who had come to save, and his heart, though big and strong, wavered for a moment. At three o’clock in the afternoon, while Jesus exhaled his last breath, the sky became black and the veil of the temple of Jerusalem tore with a sinister sound. As if the Earth itself was crying for that terrible death.

  1. Jesus is deposed from the cross

When evening came and the crowd was dispersed, a man named Joseph of Arimathea asked Pontius Pilate to take Jesus out of the cross. Pilate gave him permission, and so Joseph lifted Jesus, wrapped him lovingly in a sheet, and took care of his body torn by wounds.

  1. Jesus is placed in the sepulchre

Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus into a sepulchre, placed it there and then closed the entrance with a large stone, as was customary.

  1. Jesus has risen

Three days after Jesus’ death, some women went to his grave to anoint his body, but they found it open, empty, and an angel sitting nearby told them that Jesus was resurrected and that they would no longer find him in that place of death.

General indications

Of course these are general indications.

The way in which the Way of the Cross can be explained to children also depends a lot on their age. There are many books suitable to help them understand this delicate and important ritual, and for the little ones too illustrated books that tell the Via Crucis, or videos and cartoons, in which the most scabrous and violent elements are left out or at least softened, and more emphasis is given to the goodness of Jesus, to his sacrifice of love.

In all cases it is important to approach as soon as possible the children to the Via Crucis, as well as to the Paschal Mystery, certainly the most precious and solemn for Christians.

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The different uses of incense Wed, 04 Jul 2018 15:55:39 +0000 Incense has always been linked to the idea of ​​the sacred, and the divine. Since the earliest times, its use has been attested in ancient civilizations, almost always for religious purposes. Their intense and aromatic scent was considered to be appreciated by the Gods, as it […]

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Incense has always been linked to the idea of ​​the sacred, and the divine. Since the earliest times, its use has been attested in ancient civilizations, almost always for religious purposes. Their intense and aromatic scent was considered to be appreciated by the Gods, as it was by men, and the custom of burning the bark and wood of particularly scented plants has always been widespread.

Incense was burnt during religious celebrations, as well as in houses, to purify them and keep away evil spirits. Its aromatic vapours created a communication channel with the divine, and with the kingdom of the dead.

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In addition to religious uses, incense was recognised very early on, particularly in Arab countries, as a precious and useful ingredient in the treatment of many diseases and discomforts.

Even in a Christian context, incense was immediately given enormous consideration. Just think – it appears among the gifts that the Magi brought to Jesus (in reality it appears twice, because Myrrh is nothing but another kind of incense). The Jews used it for fumigation, a practice that allowed them to approach God by burning incense and inhaling the fumes, and so Christians continued to use incense in the Churches, burning it during the ceremonies and sprinkling it onto the faithful, but also to disinfect rooms and purify the air.

It is worth discovering more about this ancient product, which is full of hidden virtues.

Where does incense come from?

The term “incense” generically refers to oleoresins produced by various plants from the Burseraceae family, originating mainly from the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa, an area located at the edge of the desert, composed mainly of earth and stones, which takes name of the “incense belt”.

In particular, the Boswellia sacra, from which it is obtained, produces the incense oliban, and Commyphora, from which the incense myrrh is produced. The bark of these plants is cut, and the resin that comes out from it is collected. Some plants secrete the resin directly, without needing to be cut. In both cases, the resin is then crystallized: this normally takes a month to harden sufficiently. The collection of resin can be carried out up to 12 times a year, which ensures a constant production to the men who dedicate themselves to it, in arid and rocky areas from which it is difficult to obtain other forms of sustenance. In fact, these plants are capable of growing, even in very barren and less fertile areas, and their leaves offer shade and nourishment to humans and animals. Indeed, too much water would be fatal for the plants that produce incense.

The incense road

The collection and trade in incense has spread since ancient times. All of the civilizations of the Mediterranean basin, as well as those of Asia Minor, and many more to the East, used it, and the demand was such as to give rise to a dense network for commercial traffic. The “Via dell’Incenso“, which has existed since Roman times, connected the Arabian Peninsula with the Mediterranean. The caravans that ran through it carried goods that came from India and the Far East across the sea. In addition to fabrics, precious metals, precious stones, rice, sugar and cereals, and countless other products, merchants brought incense, spices like pepper, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon, and fragrant essences like sandalwood, musk and camphor. The latter often served as ingredients for pharmacopoeia and were also used in cosmetics.

The Assyrians, Egyptians, Chinese and Indians used incense for both medicinal and devotional purposes. In Egypt it was the basis for a particular type of Kajal, which was used not only to adorn the eyes, but to protect them from infections.

Immersing yourself in the smoke of incense helped combat joint pains and rheumatism, with a powerful anti-inflammatory action.

In India, Guggul incense was used as a remedy in Ayurvedic medicine, to promote sleep and to allay anxiety and nervousness. Also in the context of Ayurveda, incense was used to prepare ointments for sores and skin rashes. It was also burnt as an accompaniment for yoga and meditation.

Traditional Chinese medicine used the technique of fumigation with incense.

Wherever it was used, it was believed that incense purified the internal environment and at the same time kept diseases and evil spirits away. It helped concentration and meditation, allowing one to come into contact with one’s inner self and with the Divine.

How incense is used

How can we use incense in our homes? There are many types of incense on the market, in various forms, and it is not easy to navigate round them. Above all, we must ensure that the incense we buy is pure, and not cut with sand or chemical additives, which distort its quality.

The oldest and most original form used is resin beads.

The incense is burnt on charcoal, which can be lit directly with a lighter or a candle and then placed on a saucer with sand in it, or on a plate incenser. There are also terracotta incense burners, which are used to burn incense charcoals over which beads of incense are then poured. But a simple saucepan or a metal plate filled with sand is also good as a base for burning charcoals. The charcoals last about 40 min. and can be re-ignited.

Alternatively you can use a ‘bruciaresine’, a kind of tripod under which a candle is placed to heat crystals placed in the dish, turning them into aromatic smoke, in a similar way to diffusers for essential oils. Just a few grains of incense are needed at a time, to achieve a pleasant and effective diffusion.

Various types of incense

Besides olibano, or Franchincenso incence obtained from Boswellia sacra, there are different varieties of incense, that have been used in different eras according to their characteristics and properties.

gedda frankincense myrrh
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Incense with Myrrh Fragrance

Let’s take a look at just a few:

Myrrh incensex

Even the Myrrh plant grows in the desert. Its name is Mirra Commyphora. Brought as a gift from the Magi to baby Jesus, the incense of Myrrh has always been traded like oliban incense. According to the Egyptians, it proscribed insanity, calmed the spirit and relaxed the nervous. In general, it is considered to be rich in a beneficial and useful energy to combat fatigue and mental confusion.

Benzoin incense

Originally from the Far East, and especially from Indochina, Benzoin incense is the resin extracted from the Benzoe Siam tree. Too intense and irritating on its own, it is usually mixed with cinnamon and sandalwood for a calming effect, or with incense and cedar to elevate the mind and access other spiritual planes.  Shakti, a blend obtained from benzoin, has stimulating properties on creativity, love and sensuality

Cedar wood incense

Originally from Mesopotamia, cedar was considered to be the tree of revelations and was associated with the tree of Eden. The fumes of cedar incense brought supernatural suggestions, inner strength and self-esteem, as well as purifying the environment of negative energies.

Ladan incense 

Obtained from the Cistus reticus, a resinous shrub, the incense of Ladan originated in the Mediterranean basin, particularly from Crete. It strengthens sensitivity and self-perception, amplifies memories and nurtures the imagination. In general, it helps us to find inner stability and solidity.

Storace incense

A native bush of Mesopotamia that secretes a liquid balsam, Storace was considered to be perfume of feasts, because it infused energy, vigour and sensuality. The aroma of Storace incense is like amber, and is nowadays sold in the form of a “gum”.

Sandalwood incense

This is the wood of the Santalum album tree, originally from eastern India. When burnt, the incense of Sandalwood strengthens vital energies, combats stress and neurosis and is effective against headaches.

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Church devotions for every month of the year Wed, 27 Jun 2018 15:47:58 +0000 At the time of the ancient Roman civilization in situations of extreme gravity, a commander could decide to sacrifice his life to ensure the victory of his own troops and the salvation of his men. To do so, he pronounced a vow to the gods […]

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At the time of the ancient Roman civilization in situations of extreme gravity, a commander could decide to sacrifice his life to ensure the victory of his own troops and the salvation of his men. To do so, he pronounced a vow to the gods of the underworld, with which he pledged to offer himself to them, and the enemy army. This act had the name of devotion, from the Latin deuouere, meaning “to make a vow”.

Devotion can therefore be summarised in an act of love and trust pronounced by man towards God.

In a Christian context, it is not necessarily an extreme sacrifice, with which the faithful offers his own life, but a religious practice addressed to God, to Our Lady, to a Saint, composed of spiritual love and fervent prayer. Indeed, devotion becomes a form of prayer that is optional, compared to the official Liturgy and that of the Hours, but which has spread over time in various forms, giving rise to celebrations and moments of prayer that have now entered the life of every Christian. RosaryLet’s think about the recitation of the Rosary, the Way of the Cross, at the Angelus, but also about processions, pathways of prayer and spiritual meditation, such as the Sacred Mountains, devotional walks through sacred scenarios that offered to the fifteenth-century pilgrims a less expensive and more viable alternative to pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

Devotional practices are a way in which the Church celebrates every day of the year with solemnity and fervour, turning her attention and her love to one saint, then to another, then to a particular characteristic of Mary or of Jesus. Although in some cases devotional practices have, over time, assumed a folkish dimension, it would be profoundly wrong to limit the importance of this phenomenon to picturesque festivals and popular processions alone. On the contrary, the popular feasts dedicated to the Saints, to Jesus and to Our Lady, as well as the main festivities such as Christmas and Easter, risk making us forget the true devotional and ascetic spirit from which they were born, which has been overwhelmed by consumerism and a culture that depletes these occasions of their solemnity. Instead, they are celebrations closely linked to the history and social development of the communities in which they developed, and were created to enrich the spiritual life of those who celebrate them, to make every day of every month, special and pleasing to God.

Let’s look at a few of them, sub-divided by the months in which they are celebrated.


The month of January is dedicated to the baby Jesus and in particular to the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Eight days after Christmas, the devotion of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is honoured, to celebrate the day when St. Joseph made circumcised him and gave him the name. This devotional cult has been celebrated since the origins of the Church. In fact it seems Saints Peter and Paul contributed to its spread, and later, in the Middle Ages, Saint Francis of Assisi was a proponent. San Bernardino and his confreres made it a liturgical feast. The devotion of the Most Holy Name of Jesus is focused on the power of the name of Jesus, as a defence and ornamentation for the faithful, a protection against evil and a precious talisman against demons, diseases and infirmities. Jesus revealed to Sister Saint-Pierre, the Carmelite of Tour, the Apostle of Reparation, the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus of Jesus, which is recited on this occasion as a way of offering her unconditional love to Jesus:

Always to be praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified, the Most Holy, the Most Sacred, the most adored – yet incomprehensible – Name of God

In heaven, on earth or in the underworld, from all the creatures that come out of the hands of God.

For the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.



The month of February is dedicated to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Most Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit is God, and at the same time, the gift of love that God gives to his devoted children. It descends on believers like a burning flame and makes their words winged, so that they can reach the Father. February   devotions also include those to the Holy Family, the family par excellence, the one composed of Jesus, Joseph and Mary. The prayers and litanies are all dedicated to this perfect example of Love and Faith, to which everyone should look to live in serenity and fullness. The devotions to the Holy Family express the will to do what pleases Jesus, Mary and Joseph and to avoid what could displease them.


The month of March is dedicated to devotion to Saint Joseph, which is celebrated on March 19th. St. Joseph is an example of a good and loving father par excellence, of a faithful and caring husband, but also of humble servant of the Divine Will, as he accepted his role as the husband of Mary and putative father of Jesus without questioning the design of God. St. Joseph is greatly honoured by the Catholic Church and enjoys a role of great importance in many prayers of the Roman rites.

He is also the protagonist of many devotional practices, such as the “practice of the Seven Sorrows and Joys of St. Joseph”, as well as many Litanies, such as the Cingolo or Cordone di San Giuseppe, the Coroncina di San Giuseppe, the Scapular of San Giuseppe, Sacred Mantle, the Perpetual Novena, the Perpetual Crown, the Perpetual Court. We turn to him to ask for graces and intercessions.


April devotions are addressed to the Eucharist, to the Divine Holy Spirit and to Divine Mercy. The Eucharist symbolises the sacrifice of Jesus, which is renewed at every Mass, and His being descending on those He loved to protect them and guide them after His death. The Eucharist contains in itself all the love of Jesus, in all its forms: crucified, unitive, adoring, contemplative, praying, intoxicating. To reserve time and attention to this devotion leads to the attainment of many graces and a sense of closeness to the priceless love of God. Jesus dictated the Chaplet of Divine Mercy to Saint Faustina Kowalska in 1935, promising that whoever recites this prayer would have the certainty of dying in peace and grace, and of letting those who   have listened to them die peacefully. This devotion guarantees forgiveness even to the most hardened and recidivist sinners, showing the immensity of Jesus’ mercy.


The month is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who is blessed among women and mothers. Mary is a symbol and a role model for all women, of sacrifice, of humility and immense love. Wherever you go you will find statues of the Madonna in all her grace. In May, Mary is the protagonist of many festivals: on May 13th, Our Lady of Fatima, May 31st, Visitation, Mother’s Day. With devotion to Mary we turn to her as an intermediary between man and God, a sweet and loving spokesman for the troubles of humanity, a receptacle of dreams, desires, hopes. In this, Mary is the only one able to bring together those who have been lost to God, accepting prayers and repentance and raising it to heaven with the power of his love.


The Great Promise made by Jesus in Santa Margherita Maria Alacoque in 1620 started the devotion from the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which sees June as its reference month. Jesus said to the Saint:

My divine Heart is so passionate about love for men, that since it can no longer contain the flames of its burning charity  …I have chosen you to fulfill this great design.

The devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is therefore addressed to the merciful Jesus, reaching out to men, ready to forgive their sins, their weaknesses. Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus protects from evil and purifies the heart of every sinner. Litanies and prayers celebrate this devotion, besides observing the three rules imposed by Jesus on the Saint with the Great Promise:

  1. Coming to Communion in the grace of God: If one is in mortal sin, confession is necessary.
  2. Devotion must be continued for nine consecutive months. For those who omit even one communion, must start all over again.
  3. Pious practice can start on the first Friday of any month.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus guarantees that none of those who have done the Nine First Good Friday will die in mortal sin.


Month dedicated to Precious Blood of Our Lord, the true salvation of the world, symbol of the sacrifice made by Jesus to cleanse humanity of all sins. The first Sunday of the month is consecrated to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord, which should be honoured by showing repentance, temperance, moderation in passions, to prove worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus and the immense saving power of his Blood. This festival, is in some ways the crowning of the month of the Holy Heart that has just ended (June), as established by Pope Pius IX.


The month of August is dedicated to God the Father, to which a feast is dedicated during the liturgical year.

It was through mother Eugenia Elisabetta Ravasio (1907-1990) that the Father asked for a feast to be established in his honour. In this month, we should turn to God the Father, renewing his Will to entrust ourselves completely to him, consecrating ourselves to his will and invoking grace for ourselves and those we love.


September is the month dedicated to angels, the messengers between God and men, custodians and guides of our every step, in day dreams. We turn to them, invoking their protection and help, because they watch over us and give us the strength to believe and love God with all the strength we are capable of.

Octoberstatues of Mary

The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. The recitation of the Rosary has always been connected to the promise of obtaining a plenary or partial indulgence. Reciting the Rosary allows us to obtain graces and consolations through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. The name rosary derives from “crown of roses”. The rose is the symbolic flower of Mary. In fact, in the Middle Ages statues of Mary were decorated with rose crowns as a sign of love and devotion. The crown of the Rosary was born from these crowns, and used to pray and meditate. It was the Cistercians in the thirteenth century who contributed the devotion to the Virgin with the prayers to be recited using the Rosary. In 1571, on the occasion of the battle of Lepanto, Pope Pius V invited all Christians to pray with the Rosary to invoke the victory of Christians against the Ottomans. The victory of the Madonna della Vittoria festival originated in this victory, and later came the feast of the Madonna del Rosario (October 7th).

Other devotees and blessed, like Alano della Rupe, St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort and Blessed Bartolo Longo gave vigour to devotion, just as, more recently, the apparitions of Mary at Lourdes and to Fatima did.

The Holy Rosary is the most effective prayer against Satan.


November is the month dedicated to Souls of the Dead, and their memory. The devotion manifests itself through actions of suffrage for deceased loved ones, but also for the dead in general, and with a profound meditation on the transient nature of human life, and on its frailty before God. The prayers recited in the context of this devotion not only allow access to plenary indulgences, but also contribute towards purifying the souls of the dead, and saving them from Purgatory.


The month of December is naturally focused on preparations for Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, but also the Immaculate Conception of Mary, born without sin, pure and unique among women. For Christians the week of Advent represents a period of greater spiritual meditation, in view of the renewal of the birth of the Saviour, and offers numerous occasions for common prayer with the family and other faithful.

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The Egg as a symbol of Easter Wed, 20 Jun 2018 15:40:11 +0000 Whenever we think of Easter, apart from the religious significance of this festival for Christians, the first thought that probably comes to mind is chocolate eggs, which we give away as gifts for the occasion. The Easter egg is a form gluttony covered with coloured, shiny […]

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Whenever we think of Easter, apart from the religious significance of this festival for Christians, the first thought that probably comes to mind is chocolate eggs, which we give away as gifts for the occasion. The Easter egg is a form gluttony covered with coloured, shiny paper, decorated with ribbons and often accompanied by gifts and surprises inside or applied externally, to bring a smile to both young and old. A festive tradition, it only appears to be commercialised, because in fact an Easter cake par excellence also egg-shaped and it’s certainly not just a coincidence.

In fact, the symbolism of eggs is one of the oldest there is, and has unified countless cultures and religions since the dawn of time. As often happens, Christianity has done

russian egg madonna
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Russian Egg Madonna of the streets Faberge Style

nothing more but take this symbol, strip it of all the pagan declensions and re-offer it in a Christian way. For Christians, the egg becomes a symbol of Christ rising from the dead, coming out of the sepulchre, rolling away the stone, which was in the shape of an egg, in fact. Furthermore the egg, apparently inert and inanimate, holds a new life inside it. This dual symbolism, of the stone of the tomb of Jesus and of the hidden life ready to hatch, make the egg a symbol of the Resurrection, of the Life and Salvation represented by Christ, and the hope of everyman. It is no coincidence then, that the egg was taken over by many artists as the protagonist of their works; first of all the famous ones, hand painted Russian eggs, small masterpieces depicting different religious subjects. Painted Russian eggs depicting the Madonna or Russian eggs depicting the Holy Family or many other Christian symbols.

We started with the meaning of the egg in Christianity, but it is certainly of interest to go back in history a little, and discover what this particular and unique object represented in antiquity, how it evolved over time and through cultural traditions, and ended up coming to us.

The egg as a symbol of life

The egg-life association is, of course, immediate, and must also have been so for our predecessors.

The symbolism of the egg has very ancient origins. Many civilizations identified it as the very origin of the world. The cosmic egg, or egg of the world, was considered by the ancients as a vital and energetic nucleus that floated in nothingness, in the primordial chaos. By closing itself it would generate the cosmos as we know it.

This interpretation occurs in many civilizations, from the Sumerian and Assyrian Babylonians, to the Egyptians, to the Greeks, to the Hindus, then assuming particular characteristics and differentiated in different cultures.

For the Egyptians, the two parts of the egg shell born from the beak of the big Knef duck, breaking away, gave rise to heaven and earth. Also according to Egyptian religion, the symbolism of the egg as an emblem of life goes back to the myth of the Phoenix, which cyclically dies, and then rises from its ashes that give rise to an egg fed by the Sun and the Air. Again, the Egyptians placed the egg at the centre of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.

In Greek mythology the egg represented the creation, played by Castor and Pollux, the children conceived by Leda and Zeus, the latter in the form of a swan, and born from an egg. Also for the Greeks Eros, the god of love was born from a silver egg laid by Night and fertilized by the North wind. An even older myth, dating back to the pre-Hellenic people of Greece, tells a version of a similar story, in which the goddess Eurinome, fertilized by the snake Ofione, deposited the universal egg into the whirling womb of chaos.

According to the Celts, an egg called Glain was the origin of the cosmos. In northern Europe there was a custom of rolling eggs from the top of a hill to Beltane, to imitate the movement of the sun in the sky.

For the Hindus too, the two parts of the shell of the cosmic egg, one of gold, the other of silver, gave rise to the heaven and earth. The same egg was Brahma, the emanation /creation of the material universe, enclosed in the golden heart of the Egg of the World and in this form slept long in the darkness, before exploding in a golden and burning light, which generated life, in a sort of predecessor of the Big Bang.

The Egg of the World also appears in the Chinese Taoist religion, where Pangu, the creator of the world, was born from the cosmic egg, in which Chaos coagulated, and which contained within it the primordial principles Yin and Yang. These two principles, stabilised until they reached a perfect equilibrium, gave rise to Pangu, who later, with his axe split the Cosmic Egg in two, creating the Earth (Yin) and the Sky (Yang) and placed himself between them to keep them separated, with the help of a turtle, Qilin (a kind of Chimera  of the Phoenix and a dragon).

The egg as the origin of the world, therefore, is a symbol of eternal life, which is renewed cyclically, and regenerates itself, throughout time and the seasons. The Greeks, the Chinese, the Egyptians and the Persians exchanged eggs, sometimes decorated and coloured, as a gift for spring festivals, like the spring equinox, to greet the beginning of the new season.

The egg is also a symbol associated with the Female, in all the cults of the Mother Goddess, since it is the role of women to generate the egg, and with it, life.

The egg also featured in Orfism, in Mithraism and in the Dionysian mysteries, always as a symbol of life and creation, and in Alchemy too, where the Philosopher’s Egg can be interpreted as the Egg of the world.

Giving eggs at Easter

We’ve already seen how the custom of giving eggs was widespread in antiquity, especially in conjunction with the arrival of spring, as a symbol of the ‘rebirth’ of nature.

Like the Egyptians before them, Christians also decorated hen’s eggs with crosses or other symbols, and painted them red to recall the blood of Christ. This tradition may have had a considerable boost from the ban, during Lent, of eating eggs. This meant many hen’s eggs were laid that were not eaten. So as not to waste them entirely, Christians may have begun to boil and decorate them. Over time, the tradition of bringing these eggs to church to bless them began. In the Middle Ages, especially in Germany, it was customary to give away simple or decorated eggs for Easter.

Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries they continued to give children coloured and decorated eggs and hen, or egg-shaped toys, while it was only at the beginning of the nineteenth century that chocolate eggs made their appearance. The first empty chocolate egg that contained a surprise was produced by the English company Cadbury in 1875. Previously, full chocolate eggs had already been manufactured in France and Germany. The first ones would have been made in the times of King Louis XIV, the Sun King. It was the Dutch chemist and master chocolate maker Coenraad Johannes van Houten who discovered, in the early nineteenth century, how to treat cocoa beans with alkaline salts to make them sweet and easier to dissolve in water, and how to extract the butter from them. Subsequently, other discoveries led to the extraction of pure chocolate powder that could easily be modelled and used in moulds. In 1819, François Louis Cailler created the first Swiss factory where chocolate was made into a mouldable dough thanks to a particular machine. Other sources however state that there were already prototypes for making empty chocolate eggs containing small surprises in Turin in the eighteenth century.

russian egg madonna faberge style
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Russian Egg Madonna del Prato Faberge Style

Also at the end of the nineteenth century the fashion for making eggs of gold, silver and platinum, covered with precious stones began to spread. In reality, this custom was already widespread in the Middle Ages, and was only taken up at the end of the nineteenth century. The first person to commission an egg similar to those of the famous jeweller Carl Faberge was the Tsar Alexander III Romanov, as a gift for his wife Marija. Fabergé created an enamelled platinum egg, which contained a second egg, conceived as a golden yolk, inside which there was a golden chick with ruby ​​eyes, wearing a reproduction of the imperial crown on its head. The Fabergé collection of Russian imperial eggs now consists of 52 eggs. Most of these eggs contain others that are smaller, just as precious, as a matrioske. One egg made by Fabergé in honour of the Trans-Siberian railway was decorated with a metallic band engraved with the railway route, and contained   a small train made of pure gold.

Returning to chocolate eggs, nowadays, those hand made by confectioners are flanked by large-scale production on the industrial scale. The manufacture and distribution of eggs begins more than a month before Easter, and eggs of all types and sizes, are offered for sale on the market.

Elsewhere, particularly in the Orthodox countries, they continue to prefer giving a hard-boiled hen’s egg   coloured with natural colours. The eggs have to be cooked for a long time, until they are very firm. To dye them you can use onion skins or tea leaves to get a brown colour; ivy and nettle leaves give a green colour; saffron and cumin for yellow; red beets for red. You just cook the eggs in the boiling water to dye them, and then fix the colour with a few drops of vinegar.

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