Soliloquy in an International Cloister

Watch your step as Brother Lawrence takes you inside the monastery walls of a five hundred year-old international order. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll wish you had ignored your hormones and joined the monastery.

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Location: Rome, Italy

23 May 2010

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I've been a typical tourist in the Big Apple for the past few days. A friend of mine is here for the first time so I took her to the Empire State Building, Times Square, the UN, the Statue of Liberty, etc., etc. he spent all of Saturday shopping with another friend (who is now also my friend now for having spared me that task!) so I used the opportunity to visit the Frick Collection. I had heard enthusiastic descriptions of it from two of my Italian friends—it is pretty rare to hear Italians praising an American art museum. Their enthusiasm, however, was well-deserved. The collection has some magnificent pieces from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century, and I was astonished to see the originals of several very famous paintings—Hans Holbein's portraits of Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell, and El Greco's "St Jerome", to name a few. At some point during my visit, the true significance of the collection struck me: this wasn't like a national gallery. At one time, this collection belonged to a single person!

The collection is well worth seeing the next time you are in New York. The building housing the collection is interesting in itself, having been the home of the Frick family. It is a fine example of a wealthy family home in the guilded age. The museum is located right next to Central Park, which is an added bonus. Go!

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