A few days ago, now, Zenit posted an insiders view of the Vatican that few these days get to see. The occasion? Ms. Mary Ann Glendon's installation as US Ambassador to the Holy See, as told through the eyes of her daughter Elizabeth Lev, who teaches art history in Rome for Duquesne University. Her poignant tale is found here.
Art historians secretly dream of going back in time to see artistic masterpieces in their original environment, rather than as museum pieces. In their wildest flights of fancy, they fantasize about being part of that world.
Last Friday, this art historian lived that dream when I accompanied my mother, Mary Ann Glendon, as she presented her credentials to Benedict XVI as U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.
As we donned our black mantillas at the embassy residence, we were already entering into a different criterion of beauty and worth. Covered head to toe in long skirts and jackets, all I saw were the radiantly happy faces of my mother, sisters and daughters.
Draped in black lace, I thought of the tabernacle and the chalice swathed in exquisite cloth to indicate the preciousness of what was concealed from view. Furthermore, the precariously perched veils made one stand taller and conferred a stately dignity to our New England stride.