Torn’ a Firenze
Though I have had the great good fortune of being able to spend significant time in Rome over the past ten years, I had not been to Florence in thirty years.
Finally, two weeks ago, I spent three glorious days there. The weather was ideal, the throngs good-humored, and the food fine.
But rather than line up for the Uffizi, or battle for a glimpse of the “David,” we spent quality time in three places where the art was in its native setting: “in medio ecclesiae.”
So we lingered long and lovingly in San Miniato al Monte, the splendid 12th century basilica overlooking and blessing the city. We also spent hours in Santa Maria Novella, mostly contemplating Masaccio’s great depiction of the Trinity, and the restored crucifix by Giotto, suspended between earth and heaven.
But the place which, for me, was the most impressive of all was the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, with the great frescoes by Masaccio and Masolino. The ability of the artists to bring the biblical scenes into living engagement with the reality of their present was awe-inspiring; and a direct challenge to preacher and worshiper to do so today.
In illo tempore — in hoc tempore.
Here is Masaccio’s depiction of Peter raising the young man.