Travel: Religious Artifacts and Moving Art

We touched on some deep religious moments when wandering through some lesser-known sites today. It’s incredibly moving to see the beauty of faith, which is blatantly prevalent when one travels though Europe. You can see the elegance and effort the owner, engineer, and architect invested in the creation of such magnificent buildings. You can see the care that each structural fragment of history is treated with, and how delicately they handle the religious art and artifacts.

It is a challenge for me to fully comprehend this, given how the world, and the experiences of my friends, and my own has shaped my pessimism, glass is half empty views on reality. This is not to say that I am not touched, I truly understand the allure of having faith, I just merely lack it myself. I will admit, it is sometimes a struggle when I visit these prominent examples of medieval faith, for I truly wish I had it too. :/. Today was no exception. 

*Interior pictures were not permitted (as usual) so I am sorry to say I cannot present these locations in their full glory.

The Convent de La Encarcion was founded in 1611 by Felipe the III and his wife, Margarita de Austria. It was intended as a retreat for titled ladies and is the sight of one of the most important catholic reliquaries in the world, storing more than 1500 saintly relics. These include skulls, arms encased in ornate hand-shaped containers, and bones from every part of the body.

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It is best known as the location of the blood of St. Januarius and of  St. Pantaleon. St. Pantaleon was a 4th century doctor-marytr. Legend foretells that if his ‘petrified vial of blood’ does not liquefy on his feast day (July 26 at midnight), great tragedies will occur.

The Monasteiro de las Descalzas Reales was originally the site of a medieval palace home to Charles I of Spain and Isabel of Portugal. Joanna of Austria, their daughter, founded this convent in the mid-16th century. Since this monastery was royally approved, a succession of titled ladies joined, bringing a host of artistic treasures with them. It is still functioning today and houses 23 shoeless nuns of the Franciscan order.

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In the reliquary, a chest is said to house wood pieces from Christ’s cross.

What are your thoughts on Faith? How do you keep it alive? If you don’t, Why do you not believe?

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