In my book ‘Queen of the Vatican’ the legend of Matilda’s 99 churches is an important theme. The legend, which is quoted in many books about la Grancontessa, says that she wanted to say Mass, and asked permission for this to the Pope. He consented, but only after she would have built 99 churches. That’s why she built so many of them, the story continues. But unfortunately after the 99th church she passed away. In my book I use the legend as an argument that now, 900 years after her death, it becomes time this her wish is fulfilled, and that women can become ordained priests in the Catholic Church. I never felt tempted to explore where this church actually was situated. Until, in 2015, I discovered that there is also a 100th Church built by Matilda, the Pieve di Sasso, a beautiful church in a forest near Canossa. An extended local legend tells what happened there. It made me curious to find her 99th Church. So I found it, near Suvereto in Tuscany. Time for a new journey… (meer…)
Long ago, in the period that my soul journey started, I had some deep encounters with archangel Michael, both in my dreams and in my energy body. It deeply changed the direction of my life path. Amongst others it was one of the forces that brought me to travel through Italy. In my book ‘The smile of the sirena’ I take my readers with the hand on my journey of discovery about the connection between Michael, the double tailed mermaid and the labyrinth. In the years after publishing the book my journey continued and gained in depth. I visited several sanctuaries of Michael and other saints along the Italian part of the Michaels line that is running through Europe, for example in Porto Venere, Pisa, Volterra, Assisi and Gargano. Now, living in 2016, it is time to resume this adventure. In the month of April I am be travelling from Torino to Puglia, to continue the connection (meer…)
After more than a year of absence I intend to return for a longer time to the Bolsena Lake in 2016. It’s a return to the land of my soul, ‘where you are reborn again’, as Shaina Noll sings in her beautiful song. For me the Lake was a place where I found my soul, as it has been the case with many others. It has to do with the presence of the feminine energy, with the history of the Goddess that you still can feel present here, with the pristinety of the landscape and the hospitality of the people. It is as if the atmosphere of peace that characterized the Etruscan culture long ago still survives here – in spite of the wars that have been waged here during the centuries.
The Etruscans cherished a very special system of boundary keeping between the territories of their twelve city-states. Boundaries were not lines to fight over, but places to meet and to worship together. The Etruscan high priests and priestesses met there on their way to the annual celebrations around the lake, and worshipped together the Deities of their respective regions. It’s still visible in abandoned altars and temples, sometimes deeply hidden in the landscape. Can you imagine Christians, Jews and Muslims meeting at their boundaries and worshipping their Gods together? Can you imagine that Goddesses are as much part of this as male Gods? The world still can learn a lot of the ancient wisdoms….
Enough reasons to continue my research and my spiritual activities here. And my work with Matilda certainly gives it a new flavor. If you read chapter 11 of my book ‘Queen of the Vatican’ you will understand why.
Some years ago I was asked to give a lecture about attention for an Italian conference on elderly care. While I was deliberating with my son if I should go, my then eight years old granddaughter had a clear advice: ‘You should go, for then you can tell the Italians how we do things here in the Netherlands’. Although it sounds like a wise advice, I wouldn’t like to become a missionary who tells people abroad what to do. For me it’s rather the other way around: when I am abroad I Iisten and absorb, and then bring it all home again. And I like to engage in exchange and dialogue.
And yet, my granddaughter had a case in point: by crossing boundaries we can all learn from each other. Traveling around the world has made me aware of the self-evidence with which we often take our own culture for granted. Traveling is always a good lesson in attention and compassion. Boundary-crossing has learned me to see new horizons, but also to question the richness and complacency of many people in the Northern European countries. It’s a good antidote towards the mentality of fearfull protection and ‘my culture first’ that is still gaining ground in many rich Western countries.
For me boundary-crossing is just part and parcel of a new paradigm that is emerging: that of caring and sharing, with a consciousness that through all our differences we are all ‘one humanity’. But yet there are definitely some things that Italy could learn from the Netherlands…