“We are going to Burger King for lunch. Would you like to join us?” With no scheduled events for the day, different members of our group went different places. Some students looking for a change of pace decided to visit the Peggy Guggenheim Museum along with the new installations of contemporary art by the François Pinault Foundation in the Dogana and the Palazzo Grassi.
Others decided to make another foray into the teeming shops or visit more traditional museums like the Museo Fortuny or the florid Gothic Ca’d’Oro.
The adventurous took a ride on the vaporetto to the Lido di Venezia to spend a day at the beach. Decidedly less adventurous, I continued my cherished pastime of aimlessly walking around Venice. My walk took me to the Accademia Bridge, the Piazza San Marco, and the Rialto Bridge. Becoming hungry, I began the journey back to the hotel for lunch. In the midst of my trek back, I met several friends, who kindly extended an invitation to join them for lunch at the “Home of the Whopper” in Campo San Luca. Initially hesitant, my friends suggested that a taste of home would be good for me and I agreed. While not lunch at The Hotel Villa Cipriani, I admit the Whopper Sandwich (which I had my way), French Fries, and Fanta did bring me unexpected comfort. Satisfied, I returned to the hotel and found a pleasant place in the courtyard to read. As the weather began to cool, I decided to return to San Francesco della Vigna. While I remain incapable of explaining why, each time I visited the church, I felt at peace. I spent the afternoon admiring the architecture and art found within the church, including a Bellini masterpiece and Lombardo bas-relief.
In light of the absence of religious, my thoughts turned to the state of religion in Europe and America. As I walked the vacant cloisters once filled with Franciscans, I could not help but to hear the words of a lecture on the state of faith in the modern world,
I have visited many of the magnificent cathedrals in Europe. They are so inspired…so grand…so empty. Raised up over generations, long ago, so many of the cathedrals now stand as the postcard backdrop to societies just too busy or too ‘enlightened’ to venture inside and kneel in prayer.
Staying for the recitation of the rosary and the celebration of the liturgy, I had the opportunity to meet some active parishioners. These people reminded me that there remained people of strong faith. Picking up a pepperoni and garlic pizza for dinner, I ate in the hotel’s inviting courtyard and called it an early night.