Postcard from Naples, Italy: Virtual church for times restricted to armchair travel

On the left, Saint Sebastian, the protector against the plague, Monumental Complex Donnaregina

During these days when many a traveler unwittingly has brought back coronavirus as an unwelcome souvenir, we remain grounded and semi-cloistered at home in San Antonio. Spring plans canceled.

With churches locking their doors to try to keep their parishioners safely cocooned in their houses, Sunday seems a good time to share some snapshots from churches taken during a fall trip to Naples.

Am including an assortment of saints to serve most any request. Perhaps Saint Sebastian, the protector against the plague, should be a logical choice? Depictions of saints painfully attaining martyrdom are included to remind us that this confinement is not so bad, particularly as we have internet to let us connect with one another and the world.

And am throwing in the body of one saint-in-waiting, the Venerable Giacomo Torno, lying in an incorrupt state since his death in 1609 as a reminder most aspects of Roman Catholicism remain mysterious and incomprehensible to me, an outsider admiring the art and architecture while always avoiding mass.

Postcard from Naples, Italy: No rest for the dogs

Always drawn to stone effigies of the elite who were wealthy enough to merit entombment in churches. These portraits carry so much more meaning than mere names and dates carved into headstones. They serve as permanent records of earlier fashions, both sartorial and hair. Falcons for the master; perhaps stitchery for the mistress.

Often the interred rest their heads as peacefully as possible on their extra-firm pillows, but what of the poor pooches, condemned to bear the weight of their masters’ feet for eternity? Guesses or knowledgeable responses about the reason for the dog footrests welcomed.