Battery Point Lighthouse

While showing my brother the Redwoods near Crescent City, California we visited Battery Point Lighthouse.  We were blessed with a beautiful morning.Battery Point Island

 

Battery Point Lighthouse

 

Battery Point Light was one of the first Lighthouses on the California coast.  It sits on a tiny islet connected to the shore by an isthmus which can be walked across at low tide.  There is a museum there that is open April through September (during low tides).

A Taste of Italy Art Exhibit

Roxy Poster

 

My Exhibit includes photos while on my first “Chasing Francis” Spirit Venture in 2012 with photos from Assisi, Rome and Florence. It is at the RoxyAnn Winery in Medford, Oregon.  Come on by for a glass of Cabernet Franc:)

If you are interested in joining us we will be going again next spring during the last couple of weeks in March.   Pax et Bonum

Oregon Dunes

Dunes Overlook

 

The Oregon Dunes Overlook is a “view point” and a trail head for hikers that is about 11 miles north of Reedsport off of 101.   Be sure to get a Day Pass to park.  There are two viewing platforms.  But I recommend walking out onto the dunes. I took this shot looking back at the tree line and platform.  The big bonus here is that there are no ATVs.  Thus, an opportunity to consider another wonder of His creation.

Florence Dunes pt 2

Image

 

Here’s another photo from the Oregon Dunes near Florence captured in the wee hours of the morning.

I love the warm glow of the morning sun filtering across the soft shapes of the dunes …. An “Alter Moment” reminding me of the song “Here comes the Sun.”

Florence Dunes

Florence Dunes

 

This photo was taken in Florence, Oregon with the low morning light revealing the soft wind-swept curves of the dunes.   This is my first image from the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a 40 mile stretch along the Oregon Coast from the Coos River in North Bend to the Siuslaw River in Florence.

The Oregon Garden

Gaillardia

 

This is the last of my Oregon Garden collection.  The Gaillardia above turned out to be one of my favorites.  They are so bold and bright.  It was definitely a  blessing having the early morning rain.

Oregon Garden in Silverton

 

Blue Unknowns_MG_5434

 

center lawn

 

This is the view of the main lawn from the Axis Fountain.  They have quite a variety of gardens from Conifers and wetlands to a pet friendly and children’s garden.

 

 

Pink water lilies

The Day Lilies were abundant.

Orange Day Lilies

Yellow Day Lily

 

There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet.

A Quiet Place

My favorite was the Bosque Reflecting Ponds, a central plaza featuring four brick ponds and 40 planter boxes, each planted with a single tree.

Reflecting Ponds

 

The Signature Oak is an Oregon Heritage Tree that is more than 400 years old.

Signature Oak

June was fortunately a perfect time to appreciate the bounty of color.

Oregon Garden in Silverton

 

Penstemon Red Riding Hood

 

Red Poppy Field

 

If you live in the Pacific Northwest and need to get away for a few days, I can easily recommend the Silverton area.  The Oregon Garden Resort is a very nice place and they have frequent deals through Travel Zoo.  They show movies in the Garden during the summer, in October scarecrows are displayed throughout.

_MG_0413

 

_MG_0419

And Silverton is a Happening Place with loads of activities planned throughout the year:  A Bloom Quilt Show, Brewer’s Tasting Dinner at the Resort, Fireworks on the 4th of July, and a Car Show in August.  Silver Falls State Park with the trail of ten falls is just a short drive.  Here is a photo of Winter Falls (check out my earlier post:  All Creation Sings His Praises).

 

Winter Falls

 

 

 

So, just maybe I will see you there someday.

Fountain

 

Oregon Garden Resort

 

Pink Poppies

An early morning photo of these vibrant pink poppies at the Oregon Garden in Silverton

An early morning photo of these vibrant pink poppies at the Oregon Garden in Silverton

While visiting the Oregon Garden we were fortunate to take advantage of a Travel Zoo deal and stay at the Resort there.  That gave me easy access to the Garden.  I would get up at 4:45 and head out to shoot photos like these of the poppies before the bright sunlight would make it impossible to capture all the detail and texture of the flowers.

Wrinkled Pink

The early morning dew seemed to accentuate the delicate nature of this poppy.  This photo was taken with my Canon 5D II, a Canon 70-200 2.8 IS lens with a B&W polarizer.

Poppy Dew_MG_5408The joy of seeing God’s creation up close!

The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

Upper level of Basilica with Equestrian statue of St FrancisThe Basilica di San Francesco is a distinctive landmark that can be seen from miles away as you approach Assisi.  As you draw nearer you can appreciate the huge supporting arcades.  The Basilica of St. Francis is considered one of the artistic highlights of medieval Europe, as well as one of the most important places of Christian pilgrimage in the world.  It is definitely a ‘must see’ while visiting or on pilgrimage as it continues to be a powerful place both for believers and art-lovers alike.  The basilica is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Order of Friars Minor more commonly known as the Franciscan Order.

The Basilica of St Francis, early dawnBrother Francis died in October of 1226 and less than two years later his disciple and fellow-worker Brother Elias (of Cortona) had plans underway for construction of a church in his honor.  The Friars Minor, Pope Gregory IX (who, as a cardinal, enjoyed a close friendship with Francis), and the people of Assisi were all involved in supporting the early construction of what became an incongruously grandiose and beautifully embellished memorial to a profoundly converse man who preached and lived a simple life of poverty, abstinence, and renunciation of worldly goods in search of a greater spirituality.

It is believed that Brother Elias, although devout, was more worldly that Francis, and the popularity of the Franciscan order through the ages owes a great deal to Elias’ marketing skills.

Side-hill view of Basilica St Francis, AssisiConstruction began in 1228.  The basilica was built into the side of a hill and actually consists of two churches known as the Upper Church and Lower Church, and the saint’s tomb which is yet below the Lower Church.  A site for the church was donated to Pope Gregory by Simone di Pucciarello on the western tip of Asio hill outside the Assisi city walls on what was known as the “Hill of Hell” where criminals were put to death.  It is now called the “Hill of Paradise”.

Francis was declared a saint on July 16, 1228 and the following day the pope laid the first stone of the Church of St. Francis.  The Lower Church was quickly finished by 1230, and on Pentecost May 25, 1230 the body of St. Francis was taken from its temporary burial place St. George, now the Basilica of Saint Clare of Assisi, to the Lower Church (or Lower Basilica).  The actual burial place was hidden in the earth beneath the high alter and sealed up with stone to protect St. Francis’ remains.  It was not till 1818 that the tomb of St. Francis was rediscovered beneath the high altar.  After being hidden for nearly 600 years the coffin was opened and Francis’ skeleton was found completely intact.  A new crypt was built first in neo-Classical style then later in a simpler neo-Romanesque style.  Thus modern pilgrims are able to approach the very tomb of St. Francis, which no medieval pilgrims were ever able to do.  (Notes from Sacred Destinations)

Construction was begun on the Upper Church in 1239 and completed in 1253.  Both churches were consecrated by Pope Innocent IV in 1253 and designated a Major Basilica in 1288.  On September 26, 1997 two earthquakes hit this region of Italy damaging many ancient buildings.  The Lower Church walls are nearly nine feet thick and were unscathed while the Upper Church with larger windows and walls only three feet thick were damaged.  An aftershock killed two Franciscan friars and two specialists while they were inspecting the damage to the Basilica.   Many of the frescoes of the life of St. Francis by Giotto in the Upper Church were destroyed in the collapse.  The basilica was closed for two years for restoration.

The Basilica of St Francis and lower piazza, early morning

The photo above shows the lower piazza and the side entrance to the Lower Church in the early morning before the activity of the day.  The alternating striped colors of the street almost seem like an escalator drawing you toward the grand side entrance.

Portico-Colonade L piazza-Basilica St FrancisBelow, a pilgrim is enjoying a time of reflection in the quiet of the early morning under the arched colonnade lining the sides of the Piazza Inferiore.  The colonnades were added in the 15th century.

Under the colonade of the lower piazza of the Basilica of St Francis of AssisiAn example of more recent artwork under the colonnade of the lower piazza.

Portico Art-Basilica St Francis

By mid day the piazza becomes a hub of activity with tourists and pilgrims.  Here are a couple of young art students on an “art venture”.

Young artists on the piazza of the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi

The side entrance to the Basilica of St Francis of Assisi from the lower piazzaThis is the grand side entrance to the Lower Church showing the stairway to the Upper Piazza and Upper Church and the benediction loggia on the left side of the facade and supporting curtain wall which was added in 1754.

Benediction Loggia, Bassilica, St Francis, Assisi

the pediment over the side entrance to the Basilica of St Francis of AssisiAbove the doors is an ornate pediment containing a large rose window, flanked by two smaller ones, called by some “the eye of the most beautiful church in the world.”

Rose detail-Side entrance Basilica

Pediment detail-Side entr Basilica St FrancisWooden decorations on the doors by Ugolinuccio da Gubbio done circa 1550.

Wood panel-door-Basilica Sr Francis AssisiThe upper piazza joining the lower of the Basilica of St FrancisThe Umbian view from the upper piazza of the Basilica of St FrancisSince the Basilica is located on the far western end of the hill it offers wonderful views overlooking the valley below.

The view from upper entrance of the Basilica of St FrancisThis is the view from the portico of the Upper Church showing the Franciscan Tau, PAX, and the equestrian statue of St. Francis.

Front entrance to the Upper Basilica of St Francis of AssisiThe Upper Church has white-washed brick facade and a Gothic doorway with a Romanesque rose window.

Detail of front Rose to Basilica St FrancisUpper level of Basilica with Equestrian statue of St FrancisSt Francis-Equestrian statue; b&wThis equestrian statue is one of my favorites showing Francis with his head hung low as he slinks back home after God has told him to “let go” of his dream of becoming a heroic “knight in shining armor” and to instead follow the way of Jesus.Bell tower  Campanile of Basilica St Francis of AssisiAs much as the outside architecture of the basilica is interesting and beautiful, the inside of the basilica is even more so.  It is frescoed from top to bottom by the leading artists of the day with works from Cimabue, Giotto, Simone Martini, and Pietro Lorenzetti.  Unfortunately photography was not permitted inside.  But taking time to experience the inside will convince you that it is as spectacular as the Vatican or St. Peter’s Cathedral in a simpler beauty.  Basilica tower w valley viewDiscovery Venture Tours has scheduled another Spirit Venture – “Chasing Francis” next year from March 19th to the 29th.  We will be spending 6 nights in Assisi and 4 nights in Rome.  Below is the brochure.    It was such an amazing experience many of us are going back.  Let us know if you are interested in joining us.

2014-9x12 Assisi Broch. inside-ProPhotoRGB-8 bit-350dpi-Edit2014-9x12 Assisi Brochure-outer

(Notes from Rick Steves, Sacred Destinations, and Wikipedia)

The Cathedral of Assisi

The Chiesa di San Rufino is the Duomo or the Cathedral of Assisi.  The cathedral is the seat of the local bishop.  Rufino was Assisi’s first bishop, it’s Patron Saint, and was martyred and buried here in the third century.  It was inspirational to be in the same church where St. Francis and St. Clare were baptized.  It was also the bishop blessed Francis’ “spiritual awakening.”  It is still the official baptismal site for the village of Assisi.

The Romanesque facade is believed to have been completed in the early 13th century.  The interior is Neoclassical.  It was beautifully restored after a 1997 earthquake.

The facade is divided vertically into three sections and horizontally into three stories with a row of blind arches between the the first two.  All three portals are richly sculpted with red marble relief in the lunettes and geometric designs and figures around the entries.

Two lions stand guard at the central portal, with one eating a Christian martyr and the other clutching a ram in its claws.

Over the central portal the red marble relief depicts Christ enthroned beneath the moon and a star, with the Madonna del Latte to the left and St. Rufinus to the right.

The central rosette shows symbols of the Evangelists surrounding the intricate rose which is supported by three extraordinary figures standing on unidentifiable animals.

As I entered the rear of the church my eyes were immediately drawn to the two fine statues of St. Francis and St. Clare by Giovanni Dupre in 1888.

artistically edited due to poor lighting to an ‘antique’ style

artistically edited due to poor lighting to an ‘antique’ style

The next attraction was actually the floor.  Large glass panels exposed parts of the ninth century foundation.  Apparently after the 1997 earthquake inspectors discovered graves under the paving stones.  It was a common practice to bury people in the churches.  I have seen this in ancient Scandinavian churches as well.  It is also likely that this church was built upon old Roman temple ruins.  A cistern is also visible from the rear of the church.  The Diocesan museum is underneath the church as part of the foundation of the early church of San Rufino where the saint’s sarcophagus and ancient art can be seen.

The floor also displayed large red marble reliefs, one with the Franciscan Tau and the other with “abba Father.”

The baptismal font has a black iron gate around it and a terracotta cover over it (installed in 1882).  It is here in the San Rufino that Francis was baptized circa 1181 and Clare was baptized in 1194.  Eighteen years later it was here that Clare heard Francis teach and decided to dedicate her life to following Jesus.  Emperor Frederick II is believed to have been baptized here in the early 1190s.

Above the entrance to the chapel to the right stands a fresco by Giovanni Andrea Carlone, The Sacrifice of Elijah.  It depicts the contest between the prophets of Baal and Elijah.  Each prepared to sacrifice a bull and called on God to light the fire.  Elijah’s prayer was answered the prophet of Baal was not.  The people consequently returned to the one and only true living God and killed the prophets who had attempted to lead them astray.

There is also a beautiful Processional banner from the early 16th century which is variously attributed to Berto de Giovanni or Dono Doni and was incorporated as the altarpiece of the  Altare di San Giuseppe in San Rufino in 1670.  It depicts St. Joseph showing the Virgin’s wedding ring to an audience of kneeling men and women with a landscape of Assisi behind.

The predella (the base of the alterpiece) contains three panels depicting the Holy Family with SS Antony of Padua (on the left) and Bernardino of Siena (on the right) by Dono Doni.

The slide show has photos of Pope John Paul II and of the rose window looking from the inside with filters to appreciate the detail.

As always, with any visit to an inspirational setting such as the Chiesa di San Rufino, all the photos in the world can not capture the “Holy Spirit’s” touch on my heart or soul when sitting in this cathedral … all alone … in absolute silence.  I can hear Him “calling me” … “Come follow me.”

I can only answer with the simple prayer … Here I am Lord.  Show me how.  I am willing.  Help me stay on your path.

The Pantheon of Rome

While in Rome I visited the Pantheon.  I was really impressed by it.  When you consider its size, age, and structure it truly is an engineering marvel.  For starters I expected it to be out more in the open like the Colosseum for all the world to see, but instead it is sandwiched into a neighborhood.

As you are walking through the narrow streets of Rome and enter the Piazza della Rotunda, the Pantheon suddenly looms before your eyes … a huge monument of architectural triumph … having survived the test of time.  It is likely the best preserved of all the buildings of ancient Rome.

It was oringinally built in 27 B.C. as a temple to all (pan) gods.  It was damaged later by a couple of fires and was rebuilt by the emperor  Hadrian circa A.D. 120 and is perhaps the most influential building in art history.

The ancient portico columns are an impressive 40 feet high and are made of single pieces of red-gray granite taken from an Egyptian temple.  The holes in the triangular pediment once held a huge bronze Roman Eagle.

The porch ceiling was originally covered in bronze plating, but this was removed in the 17th century by the scavenging pope from the Barberini family.

The dome was the largest made until the Renaissance and is a testament to Roman engineering.  It became a model for the Florence cathedral, Michelangelo’s dome of the St. Peter’s, and even Washington D.C.’s capitol building.

The dome is set on a circular base and is as high (142 feet from the floor tho the rooftop) as it is wide.  It is made from concrete which was a Roman invention.  It gets lighter and thinner as it reaches the top.  The base is 23 feet thick and made from a heavier concrete mixed with travertine, but the top is less than five feet thick and is mixed with lighter volcanic rock.  The indentions or ‘coffered’ ceiling reduces the weight of the dome without losing strength.  The oculus, or eye-in-the-sky, is the only light source and measures nearly 30 feet across.  The floor is 1800 years old.  It has holes and slants toward the edges to let the rainwater drain off.    (Notes taken from Rick Steve’s excellent travel book on Rome)

The Pantheon survived the Dark Ages primarily due to being transformed into a church.  Centuries after Hadrian finished the rebuilding project the Roman Empire had been nearly completely evangelized and Emperor Phocas gave it to the church.  Then in the year 609  Pope Boniface IV transformed it into the church of Sancta Maria ad Martyres.  From that time on it has become a great reliquary, because the Pope wished it to be the final resting-place of the mortal remains of thousands of Christians, many of them martyrs, which until then had been buried in the Catacombs.

It was almost at the dawn of the Middle Ages that the dedication of the former Pantheon to the Christian Martyrs showed how deeply indebted the Church felt to those who had borne witness to Christ to the extreme of giving their lives for their faith.  Tarcisius, Agnes, Cecillia, Perpetua, and Polycarp are examples of Christian faith in Christ being stronger than all the legions of Rome.  “They had triumphed, like their Master, in the madness of the Cross, and so merited to be hymned and venerated down the centuries.”   (Notes from Opus Dei)