Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Miracle of Bolsena.

Orvieto is one of my favorite places to take guests of L'Antica Vetreria. Less than an hour down the road, it has a special connection to L'Antica Vetreria.  The glass artisans of our Vetreria were favorites of the architect, Maitani, of the Duomo of Orvieto and made the thousands of glass mosiacs that

glitter on the incredible facade of the Duomo.  The approach to Orvieto is awesome as it rises up on an enormous tufa cliff above the valley below and the grand Duomo can be seen for many miles.
Many popes took refuge in Orvieto over the centuries for it was so easy to defend and gave them security from the many sackings of Rome that plagued their safety.  Standing before the Duomo that dominates the piazza visitors can see how the beautiful mosiacs glitter in the sun of a cloudless day.  The mosiacs depict stories from the Old and New Testament and I never tire of telling people about our glass maestri who spent years making the glass.
 Each visit to this piazza, where the Duomo looms like the rock star it, reveals new views and sights.  On this day banners for the Feast of Corpus Domini are appearing as they prepare for this unique festival in Orvieto, for the Miracle of Bolsena that is celebrated at Corpus Domini all began here!
Before the Miracle of Bolsena, the Vatican did not accept the doctrine of "transubstantiation" that the Body and Blood of Christ was actually present in the Eucharist of Communion.  In 1263 when a doubting Bohemian priest was serving Communion in nearby Bolsena, he spilled the Communion wine on the altar cloth and it became blood.  Rushing up to Orvieto where Pope Urban IV was living, he brought this proof of a miracle and the Pope shortly issued a Papal Bull incorporating the doctrine of transubstantiation and ordered a magnificent cathedral built to house a chapel for the Corporal of Bolsensa, the altar cloth.  Today the Corporal can be viewed above the altar in the beautifully frescoed chapel.
Whether or not one believes in this miracle, a close look at the stained altar cloth certainly fills one with a sense of mystery.

Each time I quietly sit in this chapel, I think of our own glass artisans who contributed to the beauty of this incredible Duomo and the link that Piegaro has to Corpus Domini, the Infiorata festival that celebrates the Miracle of Bolsena.  Each year the Corporal is taken from the altar and paraded with tapestries that depict the miracle around the flower-strewn streets of Orvieto.
Even the interior of the Duomo has intricate flower tapestries that have taken hours to create.
Someday I will tear myself away from Piegaro's own sweet Infiorata of Corpus Domini to attend the one in Orvieto, a much grander but no less magical one!

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