Spirit of Italy - Milan, Oct. 3, 2007

October 09, 2007

Spirit of Italy: Milan – Oct. 3, 2007


Fifty members of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, led by Bishop Beverly Shamana, are currently engaged in Spirit of Italy 2007 – an inaugural event for the Conference as tour members visit 8-13 locales “to be stirred by God’s heart of creativity while building and deepening relationships as the Body of Christ,” in the words of the Bishop. Tour member are experiencing the art and architecture inspired by the Christian faith of Italy’s world famous artists, including Da Vinci and Michelangelo.


Among those taking part in this “spiritual journey of a lifetime” are Bruce Pettit, a member of the Conference Communications Commission, and Chuck Myer, who served as editor of the Connection. They agreed to file a series of stories about their experiences along the way. The first follows here.


By Bruce Pettit

We arrived in Milan, in the northern part of Italy.


Milan, said our guide, is the business part of Italy. The Italian stock exchange is here. Making money is what Milan is about. The English term milliner comes from Milan's reputation as a source of goods such as bonnets and lace*. Italy, famous for its restaurants, has few here. That's because most business people want to eat quickly at a sandwich bar so they can hurry back to work. Lorna Kedney, a native of Dublin, Ireland, taught herself Italian six years ago to lead Educational Opportunities Tours here. “Milan is cold and serious,” she said.


We will be continuously going south on this trip. “The more south we go, the more we’ll hear people saying there is no need to be in such a rush,” we are told.


Our first stop in Milan was the Piazza Duomo, or Cathedral Square (the original meaning of “duomo” is “house,” but the term now is used almost exclusively as a religious one. The 135-spire Cathedral of Milan is here, but so is a long tunnel with a soaring glass roof that is all commercial.


Milan is a bit of everything, Lorna said. The architecture is a mix of neo classical, Gothic, Romanesque, and art deco. Other cities will identify themselves, and set themselves apart, by a dominance of one style.


Few people live in individual houses in Milan. The structure of choice is a “palace,” actually an apartment building. The higher the floor, the more expensive an apartment, as people pay better to escape traffic noise and pollution.


As we prepare to go into largely Catholic houses of worship as we travel south, some on this tour wondered whether it is still protocol for women to cover their heads. No, said Lorna. That all went out with Vatican II in 1962, she told us, when the church sought to be more relevant.


At Chiesa Evangelica Metodista, our afternoon stop (see accompanying story by Chuck Myer), we learn that music minister Ann Aldridge has to go to the U.S. to get decent sheet music for her choirs. Before Vatican II, she explained, only clergy and professional musicians could do music in church. Congregations never sang. “They had their Reformation 400 years late,” said Ann. Now they are permitted to sing, but they are still learning and it has not really caught on, so music is that is easy to sing is hard to come by.


(*The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.)