Monday, June 05, 2017

Duomo di Milano

I made it to the 1100 Sung Mass of Pentecost at the Duomo. All of us had to be wanded by security and have contents of bags checked. It was not a problem, and didn't take a lot of time, but I think it is sad that we have come to this. I also hope that we never do come to that in the USA.

The Diocese of Milan is the only region that uses the Ambrosian Rite for their Liturgies. Almost everything is slightly different from the regular Roman Rite that most of us Americans are used to. And they do have both a current version of the Rite and the historic version. Both use a set of chants that are different from Gregorian Chant. Also, the order in which things happen is different. We will be concentrating on both forms of the Amtorsian Rite during the Sacra Liturgia Milano Conference, which begins tomorrow morning (Tuesday, June 6th).

I had planned to take the tour of the Duomo that included the terraces on the rooftop. But those tours are not offered every day. And the Sunday tours are limited to families with children. If I do get to take the tour, it will probably be Friday, between the last speaker at the Conference and the beginning of the final Liturgy which will be at the Duomo. Meanwhile, here are photos that I've taken so far.

The front looks very "busy",
but on closer look,
there are statues.

Every flat surface.

And every corner.

And at the top of each
and every spire.

Many of the stained glass windows
have stone tracery midway,
with more stained glass above.

West Front and Bronze Doors

I'll see about taking more photos on the inside later in the week. I didn't want to take any photos during Mass. It was enough to take in the differences between the Rites. Much more on that later.

Some General Thoughts on Milan

This being my first venture to a non-English speaking country, I find it quite enjoyable. I am getting more comfortable with using some Italian phrases and replies, and signage is not a problem.

The architecture is a mix of modern and various historic eras, as I expected. And there is a flavor of "Italian" to it all. There is a lot of color. The area where I'm staying has a lot of apartment buildings, most of which have hanging gardens. I've heard a song bird that I don't recognize, but it's so hard to find it among the thick green of the leaves!

The Metro is easy to use, and everything is clearly marked. Seeing the names of the stops and hearing them announced on the speaker is helping me get used to the Italian language. I do hope to be more comfortable by the end of the week!

I have taken the Metro to the San Amborsio stop so I know where I am going tomorrow for the Conference.

I found an ATM of the Italian bank that is part of the network of ATMs where I can use my BofA debit cards without extra charges. I don't like using the debit card for every single transaction. I like to carry at least some cash.

I found a laundromat right around the corner from the nearest Metro station to my lodgings. I plan to take a load to them Thursday morning, and either pick them up that evening, or Friday morning before heading to the Conference.

My flight from Milan to London will leave from Milan Linate Airport. It is very close to downtown Milan, much like London City Airport is to the City Centre of London. Unfortunately, the Metro does not go all the way there. I would have to change trains a couple of times, and still be a quarter-mile from the terminal. I think I will use a taxi from my lodgings here.

P.S. Some of you may have read a FaceBook post/comment on the presence of armed police and military personnel here in Milan. I believe it is unfortunate that it has to be that way, but it did not detract from my visit in any way. Whatever the overall cause of it here, or possibility of it being elsewhere here in Europe, I do pray that we can avoid this in the USA.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Mozart's "Don Giovanni" at La Scala

Not knowing whether or not this would be my only trip to Milano, I had decided months ago that I needed to see an opera at La Scala.

Teatro alla Scala
(taken the next day)

It turns out the "Don Giovanni" was the one being presented at the time of my trip, so I purchased a ticket a few months ago. Actually, at that time, there were on 30 seats left for this Saturday evening performance! This was also why my first order of business was a nap in the afternoon.


If you are a lover of any music or stage production, you really cannot pass up going to the opera in style! La Scala is not built like most concert houses in the USA, even those considered to be for opera. There are no balconies. There is seating on the orchestra floor, and then there are six layers of boxes - from one side of the stage around to the other! Each box has five or six seats, in three rows. The front two are regular chairs, upholstered in red satin. The next two seats do not have backs, but are about 6" taller. The last seats don't have backs either, and are another 6" taller, almost like a bar-stool, but not quite. There is red satin wall covering including a padded rail on both sides for one to lean on.

 View from the front of my box.

 My hat on my seat.

Me in one of the front seats.

La Scala puts on modern staging of opera these days. I found it wonderful and fascinating! They treated the entire theater as part of the production. The stage props, though simple an not quite minimalist, often acted as an extension of the house all the way to the back of the stage. At times, singers would enter from the foyer via the center aisle, or sing a trio at the front of the orchestra seating, right behind the conductor's head. During the masquerade ball scene, a small contingent of the orchestra played from the far back of the stage, and a violin and bass from near the front of the stage. The interaction of the singers with the audience was fun!

This inclusion of the audience began with the first notes of the Overture. With the house lights low and the curtain bright, Don Giovanni wander onto the stage, sort of in a stupor, and grabbed the curtain, pulling it to a pile on the stage floor! It revealed a huge mylar mirror of the hall, and the house light came back on. It was thrilling from the very first moments!

At the intermission, I decided not to partake of the "adult beverages", but did venture out into the upper foyer and onto the balcony with many others for some fresh air and socializing.

The upstairs foyer.

The balcony.

The Piazza della Scalla
with the monument to Leonardo da Vinci.
You can see the central spire of the Duomo in the distance.

A telephoto of the spire.

The production was very modern, especially the costumes - evening dress for men, except for the common men who wore black work clothes. I don't know if stage hands took non singing part, or if the opera chorus was trained to move the sets. It looked like it could be either. The ladies were often scantily clad (probably a relief for singing!) If the entire production had been recorded on film, it would have a "R" rating - it was very risque, and even had a moment of nudity. The whole thing was surprising and breathtaking!

The curtain call.

I was a good boy, and only took photos before the performance began, and then this one. There were others taking photos, even a few movie shots from the privacy of the boxes.

The down-side of this fantastic evening was the timing. The opera began right at 2000, but didn't finish till 2330. The Oasi San Francesco is a Catholic retreat house, and has a very strict Midnight curfew - which I did NOT make! I had to return to the Duomo Piazza and find a taxi driver who knew an inexpensive hotel for one night. I got to bed at about 0200!

I arose at 0830, got dressed, and returned to the Oasi, and got ready to go to Mass at the Duomo.

And So Another Adventure Begins

This is why I love to travel - it is always an adventure!

The JetBlue flight from Charleston to JFK was uneventful, even with a crying one-year old with the couple sharing the starboard seats. Evidently, TSA has made me a "pre-check" traveler, even without me asking or me applying or paying a fee!

I had over two hours lay-over in NYC, so I had some dinner at Tigin Irish Pub while I waited. (I knew there would be two meals on the overseas flight, but neither what nor when, and I really hadn't eaten anything in Charleston all day!)

Joshua has been talking about flying in a 747, before they take them out of service. There was one parked about 800' from our gate, but the Emirates plane at our gate was an A380-800!

 Two jet-ways: one for First Class (upper deck)
the other for the rest of us!

 From my seat forward.
The flight attendants uniforms were quite striking -
as were some of the flight attendants!
They did remove their head-covers and scarfs during the flight.

 From my seat aft.

 Stairs to the flight deck (L) and forward lavatories (R).

 Stairway to First Class, with bar at the top.

One of the flight attendants offered to take my photo on the plane
as we were all getting off in Milan.
He then suggested taking a look at First Class,
and had me sit in one of the seats!

We flew into Milano Malpensa Airport. It's about 25 miles north of the city. I took a shuttle bus to the main rail station, and then a taxi to Oasi San Francesco -  on the other side of the city. After I unpacked, I took a short nap in preparation for the evening!

Friday, June 02, 2017

Summer Trip Update

This update was just posted on the Sacra Liturgia Milano FaceBook page:

We are pleased to announce further details of the liturgical celebrations at Sacra Liturgia Milan and of two other liturgies to which conference delegates have been invited.
On Tuesday, June 6th, the traditional Ambrosian rite community in Milan will host the conference delegates at 11.30 at the Church of Santa Maria della Consolazione (Largo Cairoli, Metro 1: Cairoli) for a Mass in the Ambrosian rite (usus antiquior), of the Tuesday of Octave of Pentecost. Bishop Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus-Toulon (France) and President of Sacra Liturgia, His Eminence Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and Archbishop Alberto Sanguinetti Montero, Archbishop of Canelones (Uruguay), will present at the Mass.
On the same day, His Eminence will assist pontifically at the Solemn Vespers for the opening of the conference in the Ambrosian rite (usus antiquior) at 4:00 pm in the Basilica of Saint Ambrose, celebrated by Msgr. Claudio Magnoli, Canon of the Metropolitan Cathedral and consultant to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
On Wednesday, June 7, at 6:30 pm at the Church of S. Alessandro in Zebedia, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke will assist pontifically at the Solemn Mass in the Ambrosian rite (usus antiquior) celebrated by Msgr Luigi Manganini, Archpriest Emeritus of the Metropolitan Chapter. Cardinal Sarah will also be present at the Mass.
On Thursday June 8 at 7:30 pm at the Basilica of St. Ambrose, Bishop Erminio De Scalzi, Abbot and Parish Priest, will celebrate a pontifical votive Mass of the Saints, whose relics are preserved in the Ambrosian Basilica (usus recentior).
On Friday, June 9 at 8 am, conference delegates are invited by a group of students to the Holy Mass in the Roman rite (usus antiquior) celebrated at the Chapel of St. Francis of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.
The convention will close with Solemn Vespers in the Ambrosian rite (usus recentior), Te Deum, Benediction and a statio at the altar of Blessed Ildefonso Schuster, celebrated at the Metropolitan Cathedral at 4 pm by Msgr Gianantonio Borgonovo, Archpriest of the Metropolitan Chapter.
Amongst the prelates present at the conference liturgies will be Bishop. Dominique Rey, bishop Fréjus-Toulon (Francia) e Archbishop Maria Sanguinetti Montero, Bishop of Canelones (Uruguay).
The liturgical celebrations are open to the public, however only registered conference delegates can be guaranteed a copy of the booklets prepared for the conference liturgies.
For further information and registration see:

It is Friday morning, 2 June, and I have packed my checked baggage. I will go into the office for a while, then come home and finish packing my carry-on, including this computer. My next posts will be from Milan.