Friday, December 3, 2010

St. Lorenzo Giustiniani (July 1, 1381 to Jan. 8, 1456)

   The Christmas party at the company where I work had a masquerade theme this year which made it all the more reason to go. I chose to wear a simple black dress which was sleeveless with glittery trim and a festive red scarf.  The mask would be my main accessory.
  When we got to the Biltmore Hotel in Providence, there was such an array that I tried on four before making my selection. It was black with red trim around the eyes and feathers of which three protruded from the top. My friend's choice was easy: plain and black to go with his Lone Ranger hat.
  Once I put on my mask, I didn't remove it all night for it was the perfect opportunity to pretend I was back in Venice. Not during my last trip there in 1992, but around 1436, when the mask was a staple in Venetian culture. And yet, it was not always that way.
  The Roman Catholic Church banned masks in the 14th century at least three times with the exception that they could be worn from Christmas until Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday which was the start of Lent. This was during the time when St. Lorenzo Giustiniani, a miracle worker, lived in Venice. He was the city's bishop and first patriarch.
  Against his mother's wishes (she wanted him to have a wife), St. Lorenzo Giustiniani was ordained in 1406. He spent much of his time begging for the poor and working as a teacher. He was known for writing about mystical contemplation.
  St. Lorenzo Giustiniani died on Jan. 8, 1456. His feast day is Jan. 8.

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