Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Bari

Sitting beside the Adriatic Sea, the city of Bari is the capital of the Apulian region in southern Italy
The only previous information that I knew about Bari was discovered on a holiday taken in Turkey three years ago. I learnt that the 744 year old relics of St. Nicholas were purloined in 1087 from the ancient city of Myra, Asia Minor (now Demre in Turkey), and taken by Italian seafaring raiders back to their home in Bari
It was common practice back in the Middle Ages to steal holy relics as they attracted lots of pilgrims. Visiting pilgrims need to be housed, fed, and provided with souvenirs, so relics became a source of income not only for the destinations that held them, but also for the abbeys, churches, and towns en route.  
The fairy lights are connected with a religious festival held each and every May to celebrate the anniversary of the arrival of the relics 930 years ago.
Basilica di San Nicola is one of Puglia's first great Norman churches and was built specifically to house the relics.


Inside the basilica there was a statue of St. Nicholas which is carried aloft from the basilica each and every May before it is placed on a boat where it rides the sea for the Festa di San Nicola. As I mentioned earlier the festival celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of the relics, and Roman Catholic pilgrims visit from all over the region to follow the procession at sea in many colourful flotillas. The next day there is a huge outdoor mass where the saint is venerated, and on the last night of the festival there is a spectacular firework display

We found that the relics are held in a reliquary kept down in the crypt, but on climbing down the steep stone stairway were surprised to discover a Christian Orthodox ceremony taking place. The crypt was full of Russian men and women, some of whom were prostrating themselves on the floor as they then made their way to the reliquary and placed the upper part of their body through an opening in it.
We sensed that something very significant for them was taking place but had no idea what. 
On our return home we heard on the news that a small part of St. Nicholas's rib had been removed from the reliquary around the time of our visit. With previous special consent from the Pope it was flown to Moscow in a chartered plane. At this moment thousands of Russians are flocking into Moscow in order venerate, touch, and kiss the casket containing the rib of St. Nicholas. Apparently President Putin has already visited.
You can see some interesting videos here showing the arrival of the casket in Moscow and it's departure from Bari. The delivery of the reliquary was marked by the festive ringing from all of Moscows more than 600 churches. The commencement of the ringing began with 'Ivan' the rarely-used great bell in the tower at the Kremlin.
 The rib will remain in Moscow until mid June when it will then be transferred to St. Petersburg before returning back to Bari sometime in July. 
St. Nicholas is Russia's most loved and revered saint. 

30 comments:

  1. So very fascinating and interesting Rosemary. The business of relics of saints is certainly still alive in Italy, and something we never hear about in Australia. The basilica is austerely grand and impressive in dimension, and obviously attracts lots of pilgrims. We were intrigued when we visited Padua (the Giotto mission) to see all the pilgrims at St Anthony basilica. St Nicholas' statue is very grand and colourful, befitting his special place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was interesting for us to have been where St. Nicholas lay for almost 750 years before being taken to Bari, and then to be in Bari at such a significant moment for the Russian people.

      Delete
  2. I don't like how religious Russia is getting under Putin. That can't be good.

    Love your streetscape photo with the fairy lights -- so well composed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We visited Russia 35 years ago, and that time the church was totally sidelined.

      Delete
  3. Dear Rosemary,

    Fascinating story and as always, your photographs are sensational.

    I remember Bari well and one of the shop owners still owes me a set of dishes. He promised to ship them. That was more than 30 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am always apprehensive about paying for things abroad Gina and then finding that they do not arrive. That was very unfortunate, but a let down like that does tend to stick forever in the memory.
      I am glad you found the story fascinating, I found it interesting uncovering just exactly what it was that we had witnessed.

      Delete
  4. Great thoughts and lovely photos.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Always enjoy a good rib. Sorry about that, shouldn't be factious about the beliefs of others. Lovely photos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose it is a bit of a 'rib tickling story' but whether it is his rib after 1674 years since his death is questionable!

      Delete
  6. Very interesting story and as always gorgeous photos Rosemary.

    Religion aside... I find these stories about disturbing peoples remains unsettling. When they found King Richard 111 bones under a car park. I asked myself... Just exactly when is it OK to disturb a grave? And yes, I knew they had been looking for him. Archaeologists knowingly do this all the time. I wasn't happy about the Titanic being explored either. At the time they started that there were still Titanic survivors alive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is an interesting debate Catherine - personally I agree with you. You can be sure that whilst the rib is in Russia it will earn lots of roubles for some.

      Delete
    2. Ahhh yes, I always forget about the money.

      Since I am in no danger of fame or sainthood, I think my bones will probably be safe. ;-)

      Delete
    3. Same here - aren't we fortunate.

      Delete
  7. Hello Rosemary, The veneration of relics has always struck me as odd. First of all the intense worship of them despite the probability of their being non-genuine. Even more so, why the desire to carve up the bodies of people especially admired, when all over we hear phrases like "a decent burial" and "rest in peace."
    --Jim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jim - it is strange to me too, but having visited Myra and now Bari and learnt so much more about these relics I was surprised to discover just how much they are venerated still.

      Delete
  8. Hi R osemary's. beautiful post...as always. We stopped in Bari on a cruise. Oh fortunate that you were there and captured such monumental ceremony!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really was a coincidence that we should happen to be there at the very time part of the relic was moved - it was a first since their arrival in Bari nearly a 1000 years ago.

      Delete
  9. While I admire all the buildings and artwork connected to various religions I'm afraid I find it baffling that so many people can get so worked up over someone, or a concept, that no- ones ever seen or proved to exist. I stopped believing in Santa Claus around five when I sussed it was my Dad that left the Christmas presents. As a young relative I know said to a same age companion in primary school years ago after a bible lesson 'Show me your Jesus.'
    Couldn't put it better myself :o)
    The two animals look a bit like hippos?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do resemble hippos, but are actually bulls!
      As these bones are now nearly 1700 years old your guess is as good as mine.

      Delete
  10. Your timing was an amazing coincidence. The Norman style church in Italian stone (which seems whiter to me than most) is striking. The veneration of relics is baffling to me, but still such an important part of many believers' lives. A beautiful post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A few days later, all would have been quiet, and we would never have known what had happened. It squared the circle of our curiosity having previously visited ancient Myra in Turkey.

      Delete
  11. You know Rosemary I never heard of this happening down here - but that's expected I guess.
    Thanks for the link off to view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Relics are from the far distant past in antiquity.

      Delete
  12. Can we have our relic back please, after it has done its tour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Personally I would think that it was both right and fitting that he should be returned back to Demre.

      Delete
  13. Oh so beautiful! Your pictures again, Rosemary! Just so amazing...
    You take us to lovely places all around the world!
    Love from Titti

    ReplyDelete

❖PLEASE NOTE❖ Comments made by those who hide their identity will be deleted

“You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you - you have to go to them sometimes”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh