Monday, October 27, 2008

Back from Spain


On Friday I got back from five days in Madrid. The return was a bit complicated: a suspected terrorist attack had closed City Airport so after a long delay on the ground our flight was eventually re-directed to Stansted. This was particularly unfortunate as I had some lads coming over that evening to discuss a vocations promotion project. Luckily it was half-term at the seminary and I was able to get one of our students to look after them until I eventually arrived.
The week in Madrid went well. On Wednesday we had a tour of the factory and met with a number of architects, designers and project managers. We were also able to see the progress of an impressive current project: the construction of a replica of the baldicchino in St Peter's Basilica for a new Church in America. We saw the carved wood pillars and presumed that these were then to be painted but in fact, it was explained to us, they were to be used to make molds so that they could cast bronze pillars. It was very impressive. After lunch Fr Peter explained some of the principles employed by his art andarchitecture committee and, while encouraging the company to work in England, also alerted them to some of the practical considerations that would have to be kept in mind. In the afternoon we went to visit some recent projects and I was particularly surprised to find a young lady praying in one of the chapels we visited who used to come to Mass at the Holy Ghost - as they say in Spain: 'The world is a handkerchief!'.
On Thursday we were picked up by the Architect for Toledo Cathedral and also one of Spain's foremost restorers. We drove to Toledo where we were treated to a three and a half hour tour of the Cathedral, with our guide able to summon keys at will to let us into the parts tourists don't ever get to see. Antonio, who was responsible for some of the restoration work, was a fascinating guide particularly to the wonderful works of art hanging in the Sacristy and beyond.

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