Journeying back into history – Orvieto, Italy

There are no coincidences for people of faith; so it is in faith that I make this journey to Orvieto, Italy. But this journey will also be historic for a gift given in love and passed from one hand to other will now journey back to be exhibited in the town that it was made and gifted.

Orvieto is a city perched on a volcanic rock cliff, a thousand feet above a valley that overlooks Cyprus trees, in Umbria, Italy. Orvieto was one of the major centres of Etruscan civilizations, a Roman town and thanks to its defensible position it became an important city of Medieval Italy. It is also home to the Duomo or cathedral named after the Assumption of Mary and is one of the most opulent pieces of Gothic architecture.  Five popes left Rome and resided in Orvieto, mostly in the time period from 1261 to 1304.

But the present Cathedral which replaced a dilapidated Church was built to house a precious relic of Eucharistic importance. In 1263, a German priest was on his way home from a pilgrimage to Rome. He stopped at Lake Bolsena, near the Umbrian town of Orvieto, to celebrate Holy Mass. Though a pious priest, he found it difficult to believe that Christ was actually present in the consecrated Host.

While celebrating Holy Mass above the tomb of St. Christina (located in the church named for this martyr), he had barely spoken the words of Consecration when blood started to seep from the consecrated Host and trickle over his hands onto the altar and the corporal.The priest was immediately confused. At first he attempted to hide the blood, but then he interrupted the Mass and asked to be taken to the neighbouring city of Orvieto, the city where Pope Urban IV was then residing.

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