Thursday, March 19, 2015


It began in the Middle Ages, when a severe drought blighted the peninsula. No rain fell for days—weeks, months—on end. People died of famine, countless numbers, families were torn asunder. What could they do?

Joseph by Guido Reni
They prayed. Italians from all ranks of society prayed. They prayed to God for rain; they prayed to St. Joseph to intercede with God on their behalf. In return, they vowed that, if God blessed them with rain, they would honor God and St. Joseph with a special feast.

It was only a matter of days, when—by miracle?—the skies opened, the rains came and fed the earth. The earth flourished and crops were planted. More rain came. The crops blossomed and thrived. The people were fed. With the harvest, the people made a magnificent feast. The moment became known as the Tavola di San Giuseppe, the Table of St. Joseph.

The miracle was never forgotten. In the many centuries since, people continue to pray to St. Joseph for ‘favors.’ Such favors can not be for personal gain or benefit. They need to be for another…the cure of ill loved, the return of a loved one from war. On this day, St. Joseph’s day being March 19, those whose favor has been granted, use this day—in Italy celebrated by festivals and feasts in every corner of the country and many parts of the world—to give thanks.

Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, was a benevolent, generous man. Matthew’s gospel describes Joseph as ‘a just man.’ In Biblical times, the greatest compliment one man could bestow on another was to call him or her a tsaddik, a person of justice and virtue. Joseph was just such a man. He is known as the foster father of Jesus. Though there are differing theories of Joseph’s genealogy, it is most often supposed that he came from Nazareth and later made his way to Bethlehem for an unspecified time, two years being the best guess. There he obeys the direction of an angel to marry Mary.


After the birth of Jesus, the angel comes once more, telling Joseph of the peril the child is in, to take him to Galilee. His love and care of the baby Jesus could not have been more tender, more 'fatherly.'  In Galilee they settled. And there Joseph died on July 20, in the AD 18, at the age of 38. As Jesus had reached the age of 18, there is no doubt Joseph had been witness to the growing prophet that was ‘his son.’

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Leo X
The fifth surviving child of Lorenzo de’ Medici and Clarice Orsini was to bring the family notoriety and power of a sort they had not yet experienced. Unfortunately, much of his fame was, in fact, infamy.

example of Tonsure
As the second son, born December 11, 1475, Giovanni’s life would follow a familiar path for such a family position, in such an era. His life was marked for the church at a young age, whether he conceded or not. At eight-years-old, Giovanni received his tonsure—a ceremony that would, physically and spiritually, mark his change of status. Tonsure is the practice of cutting or shaving of the hair from the scalp, leaving a circle of hair from temple to temple. One can only speculate on the impact of such physical alteration at such a young age.

During the next few years, he received his education at the court of his father, an education that could, decidedly, be argued as one of the best to have in all of Italy, if not all of Europe itself. One of several tutors was Pico della Mirandola, a Humanist and a Platonist philosopher, Pico was widely known for his use of the Kabbala in support of Christian theology, a very unpopular theses.

University of Pisa
At the age of thirteen—with the help of his father and his father’s connection to a distant cousin, Pope Innocent VIII—Giovanni became the cardinal-deacon of Santa Maria in Dominica. From 1489 to 1491, he went on to study theology and canon law at the University of Pisa. When he became a member of the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1492, he planned to make his move to Rome. The death of his father in the same year, brought him back to Florence, to the home of his brother Piero.

Though Giovanni had a small respite in Rome, for the conclave that elevated Rodrigo Borgia to Pope Alexander VI, he suffered the same exile,
Rodrigo Borgia
brought about by his brother’s mishandling of family matters (see previous Medici post) that befell other members of his family. But unlike his family, he would remain in constant motion, traveling throughout most of northern Europe for more than six years. In 1500, he made his way to Rome, and stayed, taking part in two more conclaves, those elected Pope Pius III in September of 1503, and Pope Julius II in October of the same year.

It was to be a momentous year, as it brought, as well, the death of his brother, Piero. While his younger brother Giuliano held the first place in the republic of Florence, it was Cardinal Giovanni who ruled from his place in Rome, doing so for the next eight years. Named papal legate—a personal aid to the pope himself—in 1511, Giovanni’s ecclesiastical star was on the rise. With the death of Julius II in 1513, the cardinal conclave, longing for a peaceful successor to Julius’ war prone reign—elected Cardinal de’ Medici pope on March 11. Giovanni took his name of Leo X.

More refined and sophisticated than his predecessor, Leo was, at first, considered the personification of the Renaissance ideals. Once again, Rome became the cultural center of Europe. The construction of St. Peter’s Basilica begun by Julius was accelerated, the Vatican Library holdings were expanding, arts flourished. Spending money, both the church’s and his own, came easy to Leo, far too easy.

He was not very disposed to institute the major reforms the church needed in the face of the growing Protestant Reformation. It would prove to be his undoing. Instead of looking over his shoulder to the looming presence of Martin Luther, Leo X was far too busy cementing positions of power for his relatives, naming his younger brother Giuliano and his nephew Lorenzo to be Roman patricians. His cousin, Giulio, son of his slain uncle, Leo X appointed to the influential archbishopric of Florence.

Giovanni/Leo X, as a person, was a complex individual, while steeped in the need for power that seemed inherent in the Medici’s, Giovanni was, at heart, a calm man. Marino Giorgi, the Venetian ambassador, described him thus, ‘The pope is a good-natured and extremely free-hearted man, who avoids every difficult situation and above all wants peace; he would not undertake a war himself unless forced into it by his advisors; he loves learning; of canon law and literature he possesses remarkable knowledge; he is, moreover, a very excellent musician.’ In addition to music, Leo loved all forms of art and literature. He also loved men.

Marcantonio Flaminio
Though biographers debate Leo’s homosexual, there seems to be more evidence for it than against it. Francesco Guicciardini, Leo’s governor, wrote, “At the beginning of his pontificate most people deemed him very chaste; however, he was afterwards discovered to be exceedingly devoted—and every day with less and less shame—to that kind of pleasure that for honour’s sake may not be named." Further, Paolo Giovio, a bishop and historian, claimed that "the pope did not escape the accusation of infamy, for the love he showed several of his chamberlains smacked of scandal in its playful liberality." There are several suggestions the Count Ludovico Rangone and Galeotto Malatesta were among Leo’s lovers. But it seems to be a young Venetian nobleman, Marcantonio Flaminio, whom Leo preferred, arranging for Marcantonio the best education offered at the time.

Cardinal Wolsey
Politics and foreign affairs took up much time of his first years as pope. He joined his forces with those of Venice and and Louis XII of France in the league of Mechlin to regain duchy of Milan. They failed. When the new king of France, Francois I took the throne, he was obsessed with recovering Milan. Leo formed a new league with the emperor and king of Spain, and, to cement English support, appointed one Thomas Wolsey as Cardinal. Francis entered Italy in August of 1515 and by September had won the decisive Battle of Marignano. Leo turned from the league he himself had formed, signing a treaty with Francis, earning him the derision of many as two-faced and not to be trusted.

And yet, they would align themselves with Leo once more. Obtaining 150,000 ducats from Henry VIII, Leo entered the Imperial league of Spain and England against France. From February to September of 1517 war ensued, this one ending in success, and Leo’s cousin was Lorenzo confirmed as the new duke of Urbino.

But this war only widened the divisiveness between the pope and the cardinals. Surviving a plot colluded by several members of the College of Cardinals, Leo used the opportunity to imprison his enemies—whether involved or not—and executing one. He also used the moment to radically change the composition of the college.

Martin Luther
As Luther and the reformation gained control in Germany and Scandinavia, complicating his political situation, Leo’s dithering carried over to other areas. With the death of Emperor Maximillian, Leo vacillated between candidates, revealing his indecisiveness, his weakness. He joined in alliance with the new emperor, Charles of Spain, and once more went to war for the control of Milan, and now Genoa, against French control.  At last Leo was to know victory; the capture of Milan came in November of 1521. But the taste of victory would not last long. Suffering from bronchopneumonia, Pope Leo X died on December 1, 1521.

Perhaps it is none other than Alexandre Dumas, he of Three Musketeers authorship, who summed up Leo’s reign best: "Under his pontificate, Latin Christianity assumed a pagan, Greco-Roman character, which, passing from art into manners, gives to this epoch a strange complexion. Crimes for the moment disappeared, to give place to vices; but to charming vices, vices in good taste, such as those indulged in by Alcibiades and sung by Catullus."

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mein zweites Buch verfügbar 17. März
in deutscher Übersetzung

Die Tochter des Glasbläsers
Venedig, 1606. Wenn Sophia Kunstwerke aus flüssigem Glas formt, vergisst sie alles um sich herum: den kranken Vater, die drohende Zwangsheirat – und die tödliche Gefahr, in der sie schwebt. Keiner darf erfahren, dass die schöne junge Frau das allein Männern vorbehaltene Geheimnis der Glasherstellung kennt. Doch mit jedem Auftrag, den sie heimlich erledigt, steigt das Risiko, entdeckt zu werden. In ihrer Not vertraut sie sich dem charmanten Adeligen Teodoro an. Seine heißen Küsse haben ihr Herz erobert, aber Sophia weiß nicht, ob er ihr Retter sein wird – oder ihr Verräter …
"Eine der besten Romane geschrieben von Venedig ich je gelesen habe."
-Historische Roman schreiben

Die Murano Glasmacher in Venedig gefeiert und verehrt. Aber jetzt drei tot sind, um zu versuchen, die Stadt, die sowohl ihre Arbeit geschätzt und hielt sie gefangen verlassen getötet. Denn in diesem, dem 17. Jahrhundert, das Geheimnis ihres Handwerks sind, per Gesetz, nie verlassen venezianischen Küste. Doch es gibt jemanden, der das Geheimnis hält, während trotzt Tradition. Sie ist Sophia Fiolario, und sie ist auch ein Glasmacher. Ihr Verbrechen ist, eine Frau zu ...

Sophia ist sich bewusst, dass ihre Familie würde durch Skandal zerkleinert, wenn die Wahrheit über ihre Kenntnisse und Fähigkeiten mit Glas aufgedeckt werden. Aber es hat nie eine Bedrohung ... bis jetzt. Ein wohlhabender Adliger mit starken Verbindungen zu den Mächtigen Doge hat ihre Hand gebeten, und ihre Weigerung könnte gefährlich aufmerksam zu machen. Doch mit zu akzeptieren und aufhören, ihre Kunst würde sie zerstören. Wenn es eine Flucht, Sophia beabsichtigt, es zu finden.

Jetzt, zwischen dem Erstellen kostbaren Glasteile für einen Professor Galileo Galilei erstaunlichen Erfindungen und die Teilnahme an rauschende Feste auf den Dogenpalast, Sophia ist über den Weg sehr einflussreiche Leute - darunter einer, der ihr Leben für immer verändern könnte. Aber jedes Geheimnis hat ihren Preis. Und Sophia muss entscheiden, wie viel sie bereit sind zu zahlen, um sich selbst, ihre Familie und das Geheimnis des Glases zu schützen.

5 Sternen! Hervorragende Wahl für 2010 Absolutely superb. Russo Morin hat einen spektakulären Job. DAS GEHEIMNIS DER GLAS ist eine phänomenale historische Fiktion Geschichte über eine oft stören Zeitraum.
--book Illuminations
5 Sternen! Eine schöne Geschichte von meisterhafter Erzähler Donna Russo Morin; DAS GEHEIMNIS DER GLAS sollte nicht verpasst werden.
--single Titel
4 Sterne! Geschichte lebendig. Wie brillante Glas, wirbelt ihre Geschichte zusammen Farben der politischen und religiösen Intrigen, Mord und Romantik. Der Leser wird in das Leben ihrer faszinierenden Charaktere verstrickt werden. -
-RT Bewertungen
Die neueste inspirierenden historischen von Morin feiert die ewigen Charme von Venedig, Murano-Glas und Galileo, mit der Geschichte einer mutigen Frau, 17. Jahrhundert Glasmacher. Morin zaubert eine ungewöhnliche optimistische Schicksal ... was für eine ausgesprochen dulce Ende. "
-Publishers Weekly

Das Geheimnis der Glas ist ... gefüllt mit Figuren, die einfach zu gern sind und einem Grundstück, die Drehungen und durch die Geschichte zu einem zufriedenstellenden Abschluss macht. Wonderful 5-Sterne-historische Fiktion.
--Armchair Bewertungen
4.5 Sternen! Mit eleganten Prosa und verführerischen Stil, Donna Russo Morin bringt aus dem 17. Jahrhundert in Venedig herrlich zum Leben. "
4 Sterne! Sehr empfehlenswert!
-Historically Obsessed