The blog goes to Europe

This week, I returned from a two-week jaunt through Europe with my wife. Since it’s been a slow period around here, I thought I’d post a couple good photos from the trip.

Our first stop was in Madrid, where I had a few meetings at our company’s mothership. Through the doors on the right is where all the magic happens.

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This chasuble was worn by St. Josemaria Escriva and Blessed Don Alvaro del Portillo! It was created by our vestments atelier, Los Rosales, many decades ago.

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There was time for some sight-seeing, too.

Then we took a train to Barcelona, which was delightful. High speed rail is the way to go, people. The weather there was perfect for hanging out next to the Mediterranean.

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We spent lots of time visiting the buildings of Antoni Gaudí, including his master work, the Sagrada Familia. I’ll have to write a post about Gaudí sometime soon. Angela and I both love his work.

You can buy a ticket for an elevator to the top of the basilica, which we did not hesitate to do.

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If you ever go, be advised that there’s no elevator down. You have to descend via approximately 8 million winding steps, all while looking straight down the bell tower or out the windows. I did have a mild panic attack, but I’m a survivor.

In the gift shop, we couldn’t help but pick up this adorable book for any future Murrays. #nerdalert

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We went to Mass on Saturday night at the Cathedral in Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter. It was consecrated in 1339! The body of St. Raymond of Peñafort is there, as is the cross that hung on Don Juan’s ship at Lepanto. This from Wikipedia:

The “Holy Christ of Lepanto” crucifix, is located on the upper part of the chapel entrance’s front façade. The curved shape of the body is explained by a Catalan legend which holds that the cross was carried on the prow of the galley captained by Juan of Austria, step-brother of Spanish Philip II of Spain during the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. When a cannonball flew toward the cross, it leaned out of the way in order to avoid being hit, and has been inclined ever since.

Then, it was off to Prague. My wife is Czech by descent, so we were excited to have the chance to see a bit of her homeland. Having watched a single Rick Steves episode to prepare, we set out for Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock.

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The Astronomical Clock is awesome. A little skeleton rings a bell, a reminder of death. Surrounding him are three figures representing various vices. They shake their heads “no,” signifying their unwillingness to leave. Meanwhile, little statuettes of the twelve Apostles parade past the windows above. It is delightful.

We liked it so much we went back at night. Spooky!

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We walked across town to go see the Infant Jesus of Prague. We prayed for a lot of things there, especially our friends who are newly-engaged, newlyweds, or new parents. I also prayed for my very first customers with Granda, a parish who commissioned a custom statue of the Infant of Prague.

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Prague’s skyline is dominated by Prague Castle. We got there a little late and didn’t have a chance to explore fully, so we’ll just have to go back. It’s situated on a big hill, so the views are splendid.

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Part of the castle complex is St. Vitus Cathedral.

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We made a brief visit to the free portion inside. I’ve never seen stained-glass quite like this before!

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Finally, the last leg of our excursion was Paris. I studied in Paris in college, but Angela had never been, so I got to play tour guide. Many crêpes were harmed in the making of these photographs.

The first stop was to Notre Dame Cathedral.

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This reliquary of St. Genevieve caught my eye.

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Then we scooted over to Sainte-Chapelle, my favorite place on the planet. It was built to house the Crown of Thorns! Like all good things, pictures don’t do it justice, but I took some anyway.

We spent an afternoon revisiting some old haunts from my student days. This was my local parish, Saint John Bosco. It’s a really nifty art-deco style with mosaics. The stained-glass windows inside are little bits of red and blue, which is awesome in person but comes out purple in photos. Sad!

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We saw some other stuff, too. You may not be familiar with the tall metal structure. It is called the “Eiffel Tower,” and apparently it is quite popular.

The next day, we did about 90 minutes of Louvring.

At the Louvre, we saw Mass for the Order of Trinitarians by Juan Carreno de Miranda. I’d never seen it before, but it’s now the Official Painting of ArtandLiturgy.com. How legit is this?

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We hit the Saturday vigil Mass at Saint-Roch, not far from the Louvre. Sadly, it’s not in the best shape anymore, but it has so much history! Chopin played organ there, Diderot is buried there, and the cornerstone was laid by the Sun King! We sang this version of the Alleluia, which I’ve had stuck in my head for a week now.

It was the trip of a lifetime, but we’re glad to be back home. We’ll return to regular blog programming once I think of something to write about.

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