We take a bus to Amalfi, Italy, to visit the cathedral holding the bones of St. Andrew. Amalfi has a small beach, many shops for tourists, and the the Basilica of the Crucifix (Cathedral of Amalfi). St. Andrews’ bones, and the manna associated with them, have been the focus of many miracles and healings.
Andrew, brother of Simon Peter, was a disciple of John the Baptist, but recognized Jesus as Messiah and became the first of Jesus’ followers. He was martyred by crucifixion on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece. His relics were stored in Patras but most were transferred to Constantinople around 357. In 1207, following the sack of Constantinople, his relics were brought to Amalfi, then an important trading power. Much of Amalfi was later washed away by a tsunami in 1343, destroying the town’s economic position. The cathedral and relics survived.
The Cathedral of Amalfi was constructed to hold the relics of St. Andrew.
I climb the cathedral steps. Karen and I find that a mass is in progress. We put our cameras away and attend the mass. A ray of sunlight shines through a window so that those partaking in the sacrament must step into the light to receive the host. By chance, we are present on a very special day, All Saints Day, November 1st. A bishop conducts special prayers.
We descend the stairs to St. Andrew’s crypt. Over many hundreds of years, St. Andrew’s relics, first in Patras, then in Constantinople, and now in Amalfi, have been producing a dense liquid called “manna.” Four times a year, the manna is collected in a crystal vial during a special ceremony. The manna has been appearing in Amalfi for over 800 years, a sign of the relic’s miraculous characteristics. The manna also produces spiritual and physical healing.
While the people sing, I look at the incredible Baroque murals from 1660, painted on ceiling.
A priest holds the vial up so that the audience can see the manna.
After the ritual, the audience is allowed to approach the altar. She touches the golden grate, crosses herself, kisses the altar, crosses herself, and steps out of the way.
The relics are stored below an altar with a large bronze statue by Michelangelo Nacherino (1604), student of Michelangelo. The manner by which the manna is collected is not clear to me and I assume a miraculous process is involved. The crystal phial, which collects the manna, is placed on the top of the sepulche and the manna “collects” in it.
Later, the altar is closed off and Karen and I pay admission so that we can return to the crypt as tourists. I again approach the relics, stored behind the golden grate.
I pray that you, my beloved readers, will know inner peace.
Lao tsu writes (chapter 45):
“True perfection seems imperfect,
yet it is perfectly itself.
True fullness seems empty,
Yet it is fully present.
True straightness seems crooked.
True wisdom seems foolish.
True art seems artless.
The Master allows things to happen.
She steps out of the way
and let’s the Tao speak for itself.”
I walk behind the altar and see a painting of St. Andrew and a grate that allows me to look at the cover of the container holding the relics. The collecting of the manna has been not been declared to be a miracle, officially, by Vatican authorities, but believers given manna have been healed of diseases. This might be regarded as a placebo effect and the story of the manna helps this process.
You have read this story. Now the Placebo can come into your life and you can begin your Inner Path to discover the peace that passes all understanding. Practice meditation.
Step out of the way. Remove yourself and let this happen.