Arriving at the train station in Modena, I expected to see stores selling balsamic vinegar and other typical products everywhere, but these products are not marketed like souvenirs, thank goodness. Quite a variety of vinegars, much more than are available elsewhere (including amazon.com).
I was in Modena for a weekend, so there were some limits on what I was able to see. I was immediately drawn to the Duomo, which is set in a large piazza ringed with cafes, bars and restaurants. Brunch seems to be popular in Modena, at least on weekends. Approaching the Duomo, I saw a wall of photographs on the civic tower. They are photos of the Modena residents who were killed in WWII, fighting for the Resistance. It was sobering to see face after face, most of them young adults, and think of the sacrifice they made.
The Duomo itself is gleaming white on the outside, with a warm brick interior. It is home to many pieces of exquisite artwork. There is a harmonious unity about the structure, inside and out.
The next day I came back to the Duomo for Mass. My experience that Sunday may have been brought on by the fact that I had been traveling for nearly three months, on my own, combining familiar places with new ones. Or it may have been something else entirely. Sometimes, as I participate in the liturgy, I have an experience and awareness of the human relationship with God that is transcendent,. I remember returning to church in Miami after a long absence, and at one celebration of the Eucharist, as I walked back to my seat, feeling as if the walls of the university chapel fell away, and my communion was with the entire world, a oneness that brought me to tears. In Modena, during the Mass, at the greeting of peace just before the communion rite, as I exchanged the Peace of Christ with my neighbors in the pews, I was so touched by their joyous warmth and acceptance of me, a stranger known to them only in Christ, and I realized that they are my family. They, and all the other people in the world, regardless of bloodline or citizenship or politics.
I left the church that day transformed, once again.