Florence the city of art and the Medicis, the perfect site for the third weekend of the Symposium celebrating the achievements of Protestants and Catholics since the reformation. An astounding fact from the first evening’s lecture settled in my mind: Martin Luther had been to Florence! Of course we all know Luther was an Augustinian monk when he nailed the now famous theses on the Wittenberg church door igniting the beginning of Protestantism (protesting, of course but I had never really thought about the origin of the word Protestant). No records exist of where Luther went or where he visited on his trip to Florence although documentation exists that he was there. The first evening of the Florence Symposium was in the newly opened Innocenti Museum (in what had been the hospital for orphans and other abandoned children in Florence, run by the Silk Guild); now it is a museum with stunning Della Robbias, Boticellis and Ghirlandaios and other treasures. This site, as well as others for our tour, were chosen as Luther was above all what we would call today a social activist, and was interested in what was being done or not done as the case may be for societal needs and those of the poor, hence the reasoning behind our visit to this hospital/museum. Surely, this was a ‘must see’ quite possibly on Luther’s list.
Another highlight was the exhibition of a Catholic man and a Protestant woman opening in the studio adjacent to the Museum of the Duomo. This jointly intertwined exhibition, not just a side-by-side presentation of artists, illustrated concretely how belief can be drawn together for believers and society. The pillars are abstract reaching down into your spirit and connecting you with Humanity. The artist when asked why he chose the medium of abstraction the answer was, “I want to reach everyone” (regardless of race, color, creed) — this writer’s interpretation!