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Published: April 30th 2016
Today we visited the Palermo Cathedral whose Patron Saint, Rosalie is interred in a huge highly polished "urn" behind locked gates. I say urn because I have no other words to explain it. It actually looked like a huge silver tea service on a silver divan like the Egyptian kings and queens rode in. Only instead of being comfortable lounges carried by strong young slaves, it was all of silver. Prior to her becoming the Patron Saint, there were four women Saints. She became the big shot because even though she came from an aristocratic family, she decided to live her life in solitude in a cave on Mount Pelligrino. Story gets muddled then until the point where her bones were finally found during a plague situation and when her bones were carried through the town, the epidemic stopped. The church was built in the 11th and 16th centuries from an old mosque and the latest conquerors. Nice enough big Catholic Church, but it didn't end there. After a bus tour of the old and new city, looking at city walls meant to keep out invaders to botanical parks to museums, etc, we headed to Monreale.
Monreale (Mount Royal) is an area outside Palermo where William the Second (William the Good) had a cathedral built in the 1100. Although he was Catholic, the interior of the cathedral was decorated by Muslims from Iran who were experts in mosaic tile. The building is over 62,000 square meters and is covered in bible stories. The entire story of Genesis runs just below the ceiling and below that is the story of Jesus' life. Mush of the mosaic tiles were made of pure gold, so they will never lose their luster. Sheets of gold leaf were covered on both sides molten glass and then individually cut to fit a specific area. The church was done in the Moroccan style with pointed arch window covered in intricate grates - not stained glass, tall arches and columns that supported nothing. all the mosaics around the building at unique, no pattern is used twice. History has it that the Archbishop was not liked by Pope Urban, so he appointed King William as Archbishop. The other one did not leave, so there were two there. Also Pope Urban was looking for money to pay for his first crusade and because William had money, he was appointed. However, William still used a lot of his money to fill his church with gold. There are two raised areas hear the alter, one on each side. The one to the left facing the Altar was the king's. His Thorne was on the platform and above it is a mural of God crowning him. The Other platform where visiting Archbishops sat was lower and plainer. There was much political intrigue at the time. WIlliam married Joanne, the 11 year old daughter of the King of England. The English king's knights had just murdered Thomas Beckett, so in order to distance himself and Sicily from being involved, he ha full-sized statue of Beckett placed behind the altar and had a mosaic of him on the wall.Off we went to east street food in the marketplace and then toured the Opera House. After a little down time we went to a meeting with two men whose father's had been born in Corleone and how one father had become a tailor and the other a Mafia don. The son of the Mafioso told of how his father became the kingpin and of his being a fugitive for 43 years before he was caught. Felt sorry for the man, the government wanted him to renounce his father, but out of love he would not, and because of this the government has made life hard for him.We had a lovely dinner after that and now it is time to crash
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