Showing posts with label Bari Italy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bari Italy. Show all posts

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas: Finding Saint Nicholas

Santa Claus – fact or fiction?   Saint Nicholas – fact! 

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And if you don’t believe that, just head to Bari, Italy and visit the Basilica di San Nicola (Basilica of St. Nicholas).  The remains of this Patron Saint of sailors, merchants, children, archers and thieves have been resting here since 1087!

Because the church was built on what was previously the residence of the Byzantine Governor (Catepan’s Court) historians can’t quite agree on the stages of construction.  The underground Crypt where the remains are enshrined was consecrated in 1089. 

Whatever the sequence, the end result is an enormous structure; one well worth visiting.

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We visited the Basilica of San Nicola  this fall when the Celebrity Silhouette stopped for a day in Bari.

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Depending on the version you choose to believe, Saint Nicholas relics were either ‘removed’ or ‘rescued’ from the saint’s original shrine in Myra, located in present-day Turkey by a group of sailors and merchants from Bari.

SilhouettePt12012 335There had been great competition between Venice and Bari, both seaport towns on Italy’s eastern shores.  But legend has it that the saint passed by Bari on his way to Rome and had chosen it to be his burial place.

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The Nave at Basilica di San Nicola

So, who was Saint Nicholas and what’s the link to Santa Claus? 

Saint Nicholas, who was born around AD 270, is believed to be from whom the present day Santa Claus evolved. Saint Nicholas was a real human being born in the village of Patara, which at the time was a Greek holding and today is part of Turkey. 

Saint Nicholas was orphaned at an early age and is said to have given away his entire inheritance to help the sick and suffering. He dedicated himself to serving God and became known as the Bishop of Myra and known for his love for children, concern for sailors and their ships and his giving to those in need.

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The Crypt at Basilica di San Nicola
Known for his giving of gifts, stories abound about his generous acts, and much like all stories about him vary. Perhaps the most popular story to carry through the ages is:

There was a poor man who was unable to provide his three daughters with dowries. Without anything to offer prospective husbands (other than love, that is) the daughters would most likely have been sold into slavery. Then without explanation, on three different occasions, a bag of gold (or gold balls – depending on the version) appeared in their home providing the funds for the dowries. Some say the bags were tossed by Saint Nicholas through an open window – others say down a chimney but each landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry.

This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Oranges are used in symbolize the gold balls . . .have you ever found an orange in your stocking and wondered why?

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History shows he attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325.

His death on December 6, AD343 continues to be a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

Since 1951 the basilica had been home to a community of Dominican Friars and is now an active ecumenical center.

If You Go:

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The Basilica di San Nicola is on the piazza of the same name within the remaining walls of the ancient city of Bari. It was a 20 minute walk from the cruise ship dock, a bit further from the Central Train Station. We didn’t use the recommended shuttle.

Hours: 7,30 – 13,00, 16-19,30; Entrance is free. 

For information on the Basilica:

For information on Saint Nicholas:

All photos in this post are Jackie Smith’s with the exception of the photo of the Russian icon of St. Nicholas from The Elsner Collection. It is used under Creative Commons licensing agreement with Wikipedia: Photo by The InstaPLANET Cultural Universe .

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

With Travel, sometimes it’s the small things. . .

. . .that leave the longest memories.

And for the animal lovers we are, the small things are those little four-footed creatures who can capture our hearts or sadly sometimes break our hearts when we visit those places that have no compassion for their homeless dogs and cats.

I am happy to report to all our fellow animal lovers that this trip has been a good one – for us and the furry ones that we’ve encountered. Today, on TP Thursday, I want to share some of those encounters with you:

Let’s start in Catania, Sicily where this bride and groom were virtually ignored by us camera-toting tourists. . .

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. . .because we were so taken with this charming little member of the wedding party (who WAS watching the bride and groom):

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Then there was the stroll through Bari, Italy’s old town when we happened upon this fellow asleep outside one of the traditional bars (where you can have coffee, sweets, alcoholic drinks or just hang out with the locals). And he could have cared less about the number of tourists aiming camera’s at him:

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Valletta, Malta wins hands down for the care given its ‘street cats’.  They have free rain-proofed and cushioned  public housing in the city park:

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And signs in Arabic and English advise people to only feed them at the ‘feeding stations’ – these are two story structures that offer both food and drink. There was one well fed but camera-shy cat behind the structure just waiting to eat a bit more  as soon as I left:

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This fellow was sunning himself against the exterior walls of Dubrovnik, Croatia’s Old City – totally oblivious to the attention being given him by those of those of us who felt the need to capture his bath on film:

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Just down the road, we spotted a mom and her adolescent children – all were well cared for and despite her camera-shyness, I had to include her photo. (Those of you who remember our still-loved-and-missed “Thai Guy” will understand why she captured my heart):

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This trip has given me hope that animal welfare has caught on world-wide.  If not, at least the efforts are expanding.

That’s it for this Travel Photo Thursday.  Head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for more travel photos from around the world.


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