On April 25 and 26, 2018 four Sisters from the Generalate, Sister Lydia Anna Sawka, OSBM, Sister Nazariya Mykhayliuk, OSBM, Sister Emanuela Vavrekova, OSBM and Sister Athanasius Pavliuk, OSBM had the opportunity to take a late Emmaus trip to Palermo, Italy.
(Two Sisters stayed at the Generalate – one due to health problems, the other to keep her company.) Palermo proved to be a land of much variety – mountains, volcanoes and seashores. Having been a crossroad for travel and trade, the influences of various cultures created a unique lifestyle in Palermo and the surrounding areas. Indeed, it is an excellent example of how different cultures in history can co-exist and influence the local lives, each culture leaving its own flavor and style.
The influence of different cultures and eras is apparent in the various churches and cathedrals, which the Sisters visited. The Cathedral of Monreale and the Cathedral of Palermo are designated World Heritage Sites, which are marvelous examples of Byzantine, Islamic, and Romanesque styles, blended through the centuries. The rich mosaics, marble architecture, stonework and woodwork all give praise to God and, while extremely ornate, provide a quiet, reverend place of worship. They show the richness of different cultures and the exceptional artistic talents all used to honor God, the Creator. In the Palatine Chapel of the Royal Palace, the Sisters were able to see the Latin, Greek and Arabic inscriptions identifying the various scenes depicted from the Bible, as well as, from the lives of various saints. Smaller ancient simple stone churches and chapels are scattered through the city of Palermo, evidence of the need of all peoples to worship and serve God with their talents and prayers. Today, hundreds of tourists visit these holy sites – but, also, join the local population in quiet personal prayer and for various liturgical services.
The magnificence of the Cathedrals and churches, the beauty of the countryside, and the friendliness of the local people moved our Sisters. They enjoyed strolling through the different streets of the city with stores highlighting the local culture in ornate pottery, hand-made puppets/marionettes, and delicious local foods. It was an enjoyable and educational trip, which the Sisters will remember for a long time. As one of the Sisters remarked, the city of Palermo is a bold example of a part of our vision statement from the X General Chapter – that “our unity in diversity enriches us”.