st.-mary's-basilica

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Krakow, Poland

St Mary’s Basilica, Krakow, Poland. The Altarpiece of Veit Stoss also St. Mary’s Altar, is the largest Gothic altarpiece in the World and a national treasure of Poland.

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Cathedral, Covington, Kentucky - Swooping View by William McLaughlin

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From yesterday and today. I think Golden Polish Autumn is officially over, it was 40 degrees and rainy off and on all day today. I took that third photo yesterday, the green spire is part of Wawel Castle and I had never approached the castle from this direction before. The last photo is Wawel Castle today around 4:30 PM (Daylight Saving ended here today, we set the clocks back early this morning) (we no longer live in an agrarian society and Daylight Saving is therefore completely irrelevant and should be eradicated), it was all gloomy and post-rainy and I was very into it.

Today I climbed the Town Hall Tower in Rynek Główny, the main square of the Old Town. The first photo is one of its windows, from the inside of the tower. The second photo is the view of St. Mary’s Basilica from the top of the tower. I’ve been inside a lot of European churches, and they’re all starting to look the same to me, but St. Mary’s is really magnificent and one of a kind.

The fourth photo is my dinner last night, zapiekanka, a traditional Polish street food. It’s a baguette split lengthwise, covered in cheese, toasted, then topped with various other foods. I hadn’t eaten one before last night, and I’ve seriously been missing out; this one had cheese, mushrooms, tuna, olives, and some kind of slightly spicy mayo on it. I’m so excited to try other varieties.

The next photo is the torah ark in Remah Synagogue, which is maybe the smallest synagogue I have ever been inside and also one of the most beautiful. It continues to astound me that all these magnificent Renaissance synagogues in Kraków are STILL HERE. It’s absolutely incredible. I decided today that I am officially embarrassed my Hebrew reading is so poor; I am basically unable to read Hebrew without vowels, which is silly. I can recognize most of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, but other than the text of prayers I already know, I can’t really recognize words. Embarrassing.

Especially embarrassing if you know my mother, who has literally made a career out of reading Hebrew. Well, biblical Hebrew, not modern Hebrew. Wish I could read biblical Hebrew. I guess this has less to do with Judaism than it does with my continued humiliation at being monolingual. And yes, of course, I know the only way to change that is to keep studying languages or go live in a country where they speak French. Becoming fluent in another language is at the top of my to-do list.

The next photo: today I went to see a production of The Importance of Being Earnest, in English (it had Polish subtitles on a screen). I saw a poster for it in a shop window a few days ago, then went online and read up about it yesterday, then bought a ticket this morning for the matinee today. It was reasonably entertaining, considering more than half the cast were not native English speakers, but a lot of the effortless humor was definitely lost. The guy who played Ernest was honestly pretty difficult to watch, he was Bulgarian, and the two I found funniest were Algernon, played by a Polish guy, and Lord Bracknell, played by an American. I miss doing theater a lot, but that has pretty much been a constant since I stopped doing theater.

Thanks for reading, as ever. Things are good. I have lot of exciting plans soon! Stay tuned.

Salus Populi Romani

A copy of the icon of Mary in the basilica St Mary Major in Rome, known as the Protectress of the Roman People. This copy is in a museum of Colonial Art in Mexico, but was probably painted in Rome.

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Assorted saints. 

Stained glass windows at St. Mary’s Basilica in Phoenix, Arizona. The windows were commissioned between 1913 and 1914  from the Emil Frei Art Glass Company in St. Louis, Missouri, though they may have been manufactured in Germany. 

Depicted here are Ss. Henry, Margaret of Cortona, Clare, Roche, Anthony, Francis, Elizabeth of Hungary, and Agnes. Please click any photo for enlarged views.