22 • Toledo and environs

After siesta yesterday afternoon I went to  visit the Carmelite convent. This was S. Teresa’s fifth foundation after Avila. As I arrived I was lucky enough to meet the extern sister who let me in to the convent Chapel for five minutes. Wonderful sitting in the quiet, a special moment and blessing.

I was told that the first mass at the Cathedral is at 08:00. I was interested to go because every day they celebrate in the cathedral they use the Visigoth rite which is pre-Roman, unique in the church. When I arrived at the Cathedral, I discovered that the first Mass was Román rite and so after attending it I went to the special chapel where the Visigoth rite is celebrated, it lasted over an hour. The Visigoth rite was very interesting it was chanted in Latin by a number of Cathedral Cannons. The liturgy begins with three scripture readings, then the offertory, followed by long prayers of the faithful then the consecration, communion and then the dismissal. The priest faced the altar, back to the congregation and the chants were much more like Greek Orthodox than Latin Church.

I was looking for a place for coffee and tostadas but found  myself at the museum of El Greco, so I went in to this quaint little museum which was actually the house in which El Greco lived when he was in Toledo. Spending time before his paintings was prayer itself. I found a place for breakfast and moved on to two other churches containing El Greco‘s paintings.

The history of Toledo seems very complex, it was Roman, Visigoth then conquered by the Moors, it had a large Jewish community. So the architecture and history portrays the three great religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. I then visited two churches, one which was a synagogue in earlier times and the other a mosque, magnificent architecture and design. Both exuding very peaceful and centering energy.

I have really enjoyed this time in Toledo, which has a peacefulness and gentleness to it expressed in its architecture and people.