Friday, August 24, 2007

The Singing Nuns

Everywhere you turn in Rome, there are amazing churches. Even tiny little churches are spectacular. This is in direct contrast to protestant churches in Amsterdam, most of which had undergone iconoclasts in the 1500's as the country changed from being primarily catholic to primarily protestant. During an iconoclast, all images, statues and icons are removed, which leaves the church very plain in keeping with protestant doctrines. The same thing happend in England during the reign of Henry VIII - though in that case the iconoclasts were primarily driven by Henry VIII's need of ready wealth.

While here in Rome, I decided that I would pop into any small church I passed that was open while running errands, etc. Yesterday, I walked a different route to the grocery store and passed a "smaller" church, the "Chiesa de S. Birgida." When I went inside, I found that the nuns were engaged in worship.

I sat quietly in back of the church and watched. Unfortunately, other tourists kept coming in noisly and videotaping the nuns. At first, the nuns were praying quietly. I waited because I thought maybe it was a pre-cursor to a mass or something. My patience was rewarded because all of a sudden recorded music began playing and the nuns began singing something that was a cross between a gregorian chant and a regular hymn. It was fantastic.

I also found that by sitting quietly and observing both the nuns and the church itself, I saw and experienced more than if I had walked around the church snapping pictures.

I took the photo that accompanied this post from the doorway on my way out of the church, without the flash, so I would not disturb the nuns and their service. I will be going back to the church to get more photographs in the near future because it really was very pretty.

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