October 26, 2015

Pieve di Sant'Andrea: An Unexpected Visit

Pieve di Sant'Andrea di Bigonzo
Vittorio Veneto (TV)

It has been a long time since I wanted to visit the church just outside the old town of Serravalle, now part of the city of Vittorio Veneto (Province of Treviso, Veneto region). Last Tuesday I succeeded—not by my efforts, but by the grace of God, or by the hand of fate, if you prefer. In fact I was in the nearby area due to family reasons, and I had a two-hour gap… So I wandered around aimlessly, until I found myself in front of that very church, the Pieve di Sant’Andrea di Bigonzo (Parish Church of St. Andrew of Bigonzo)! When I entered the portal, the view that I could see was almost beyond description…

Pieve di Sant'Andrea di Bigonzo: The Interior 

The atmosphere of the interior—thanks to its beauty and its games of light and shadow, and thanks to the history that surrounds and pervades the whole—is charged with spiritual energy and sense of harmony.

Consecrated in 1303 in the presence of the Patriarch of Grado, the Pieve was built on top of a pre-existing church (probably 4th or 5th century). The hut-shaped façade is adorned with a five-sided rosette and two 16th-century shrines. The bell tower was restored in 1635 after being destroyed by an earthquake.

The inside of the church is 108 ft (33 m) long, 14 ft (45 m) wide, and 39 ft (12 m) high. The walls are entirely covered with frescoes and paintings by both known and unknown artists (among them Antonello da Serravalle, Francesco da Milano, Marco Vecello, Antonio Rosso di Cadore, Antonio Zago).

St. Andrew  –  Pieve di Sant'Andrea di Bigonzo
Vittorio Veneto (Tv)

The shrine on the left of the main altar, called "Cappella dei Battuti" (1337)—after the Confraternity of the Battuti (Flagellants)—is particularly worthy of note. It contains a cycle of frescoes illustrating the life of St. Andrew.

St. Andrew dragged through the street 
Pieve di Sant'Andrea di Bigonzo  –  Vittorio Veneto (Tv)

St. Andrew crucified
Pieve di Sant'andrea di Bigonzo  –  Vittorio Veneto (Tv)

Also worthy of note is the recently restored 14th-century crucifix—one of the largest and most imposing Gothic wooden crucifixes in the North East of Italy, being 89.7 inches (228 cm) high and 88.5 inches (225 cm) in width.

Needless to say, I strongly recommend to anyone living or visiting the Venice area to pay a visit to this amazing place.

Info Credits
  1. Address: Pieve Sant'Andrea di Bigonzo, piazza Pieve di Bigonzo, 2 – località Sant'Andrea 31029 Vittorio Veneto, TV (Italy). Tel. +39 0438 53396.
  2. Holy Masses: see here.
  3. Restoration projects: click here to watch a selection of videos (in Italian) about some of the most important restoration projects for the church by Fondazione Cassamarca.
  4. Photos courtesy of GeoplanWikimedia Commons, Tripadvisor, and La Pieve di Sant'Andrea di Bigonzo (click here and here to see more photos of the frescoes and paintings).
  5. Sources: (Diocesi di Vittorio Veneto), Fondazione Cassamarca.

October 19, 2015

When a Book Meets Its Target Audience

It has been said that a book is not complete until it has been read. I would interpret that statement as a book is not complete until it has met its target audience, that is those to whom the book is primarily addressed. In the case of my book, Being Conservative from A to Z, as the Introduction reads, the target audience includes those “conservative-minded readers”—not scholars or experts in political philosophy—who “wish to acquaint themselves with conservative political thought and to get a critical and comparative perspective on what passes for political, social, economic, and cultural conservatism in their own time and place.” Allen Bagby, who has just reviewed the book—very kindly and generously, which I highly appreciate and value—on Amazon and Goodreads, seems to perfectly correspond to the description. This means that the book is a bit more complete…but I hope this is just the first step in the right direction.

October 18, 2015

The Worst Tyranny

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

~ C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock

How true! How wise! C.S. Lewis was not only a storyteller of enduring power and enchantment, he also was a wise man and a keen political thinker. The above quote should be taught in schools from Kindergarten through University.

October 15, 2015

Take a Starry Night Sky, for Example...

Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night (1889)
Museum of Modern Art, New York City

I think that everything that is really good and beautiful, the inner, moral, spiritual and sublime beauty in men and their works, comes from God, and everything that is bad and evil in the works of men and in men is not from God, and God does not approve of it. But I cannot help thinking that the best way of knowing God is to love many things. Love this friend, this person, this thing, whatever you like, and you will be on the right road to understanding Him better, that is what I keep telling myself. But you must love with a sublime, genuine, profound sympathy, with devotion, with intelligence, and you must try all the time to understand Him more, better and yet more. That will lead to God, that will lead to an unshakeable faith.

~ Vincent van Gogh, Letter to Theo van Gogh, July 1880

What a wonderful thought it is that the best way of knowing God is to love many things "but you must love with a sublime, genuine, profound sympathy, with devotion, with intelligence!" Take a starry night sky, for example...

October 14, 2015

First Peter: How to Live as Pilgrims in a Hostile World -- A Review

Peter was one of the original disciples who was called to follow Christ during his early ministry. He was eventually called to be one of the twelve Apostles, and as supported by a wide range of well documented evidence, he was also the head of them. “The Gospel writers,” writes Gregory Brown in his Bible Teacher’s Guide on First Peter, “focused on Peter throughout the narratives, as there is more material written about him than anybody else besides Christ. Also in the book of Acts, we see his importance in the establishment of the church. He leads the Apostles in the selection of the replacement for Judas (Acts 1) and he preaches several sermons that led to the salvation of thousands (Acts 2, 3 and 4).”

Peter writes this letter to Christians in order to comfort them—with the reality of their salvation—in the midst of intense persecution by the Roman Empire. He opens his letter with a greeting to “God’s elect” who are scattered in northern Asia Minor. He calls his fellow Christians a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession. Then he explains how God’s people should behave: they have to abstain from sin, live good lives before non-Christians, be respectful—all Christians should respect everyone, especially those in authority...

The message of the First Epistle of Peter—usually referred to simply as First Peter and often written 1 Peter—has been immensely comforting to Christians in Muslim and Communist societies where, as it is well known, they are undergoing constant persecution for their faith. “For them,” writes Brown, “this letter has been a manual on how to live as a Christian amidst persecution. Even in Western societies this letter is becoming more relevant.” At one time, he adds, “being a practicing Christian in society was not just tolerated but honored […] now with new ideas about marriage, the woman’s right to abort her children, and many other aspects of society, persecution is constantly growing.” How true!

Gregory Brown’s Bible Teacher’s Guide: First Peter: How to Live as Pilgrims in a Hostile World is a very useful resource for all those committed to teaching, communicating, pursuing, knowing and living out the truth of God’s word in its entirety as given to us in the Bible. It may be used very profitably by individual for personal devotions, by small bible study group leaders, and by pastors for sermon preparation. Highly recommended.

October 6, 2015


An interview of mine with ADELAIDE—Independent Quarterly Literary Magazine (New York). Probably the best interview I've ever had.
Hope you enjoy the read!