Brother Georg makes an excursion
to the birthplace of Palestrina
by MASSIMO SBARDELLA
August 21, 2010
Friday morning, the Pope's brother, Mons. Georg Ratzinger, made one of his 'surprise' excursions and turned up in Palestrina, not far from Castel Gandolfo, where he has been spending the month of August with his brother.
He arrived in a Mercedes with Vatican plates, and accompanied by a discreet security unit of police and carabinieri.
Palestrina is a small city in the Alban hills which was the birthplace of the 16th-century master of polyphony, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. [Like Leonardo da Vinci, he is known by the place of his birth.]
As director of the Regensburg Domspatzen, Mons. Georg was in Palestrina with them in 1990 to give a concert sponsored by the Fondazione Pierluigi da Palestrina.
This time, he visited the 14th-century building where Palestrina was born, now the seat of the foundation and the site of a museum of great value to scholars and lovers of polyphony and sacred music.
Despite his age (85 years and six months), the Pope's brother walked vigorously up the steps of Via Cecconi, accompanied by officials of the Foundation, and the three storeys of the museum, examining some of the 7,000 musical texts found in the library.
From the museum he went to the Cathedral of St. Agapitus, martyr, where he was welcomed by Mons. Domenico Sigalini, bishop of Palestrina. He admired the frescoes of the cathedral.
He congratulated the bishop for having ordained three new priests last Wednesday, and conveyed the greetings of the Pope to the bishop and to the city. He also visited the diocesan museum which, in addition to precious liturgical vestments and objects, also possesses a Caravaggio painting, but its most valuable possession, a Michelangelo marble relief depicting 'Eolus, the sea wind' as the head of a boy blowing, is currently on exhibit in Rome.
At this time last year, Mons. Georg made two similar excursions to Sulmona and Anagni.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/22/2010 8:59 AM]