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Sunday, May 25, 2014

La Campagna

Campagna is the Italian word that collectively describes the non-urban countryside that makes up most of Italy.  We're told that in the Rome Temple there will be painted murals that depict the unique and beautiful country of Italy.   When the Italian Saints view the murals they will see their familiar campagna and will know that this Temple is their own, personal very Italian temple.

Temple murals portray only those divine creations untouched or modified by man.  Any man-made or man-modified elements are not included.  Only those elements touched by the hand of God will be included in the painted images that represent God's handiwork.   As we travel around Italy to meet with the missionaries, perform baptismal interviews or Temple firesides, I've tried to visualize what scenes of this amazing country might be included by an artist in the murals of the Temple.   Visitors who venture with us outside of Rome are immediately impressed by how much open space and undeveloped land there is.  There are miles of rolling hills, snow capped mountains and endless shorelines.   Italy is a long peninsula surrounded by water.  Included in the geography are two islands known for their world class beauty and spectacular shorelines.   Even to the north where Italy is attached to Switzerland and Austria there are large fresh water lakes  with breath taking shorelines.   Water and shorelines, in some form, certainly will be portrayed in the Temple murals, I would hope.   To escape the craziness of the crowded cities, Italians escape either to the seashores or to the mountains.

The mountains of Italy include several active volcanoes,  the towering alps to the north (the famous Matterhorn is actually more Italian than Swiss), the smaller granite mountains found in Sardegna (from which the granite used on the Rome Temple is quarried), to the snow capped Apennine mountains that run the center length of the main peninsula of Italy.  Italians love their mountains and escape often to hike, picnic, ski or camp.   The Italians have a special, spiritual affinity with their mountains and just as the mountains mentioned in the scriptures typically provided places of spiritual and temple-like experiences, I would hope to see some representation of the divine mountains of Italy in the background of a mural.

Trees will most certainly be included.  The beautifully tall umbrella-shaped pine trees that greet visitors in Rome and many other areas of Italy are unfortunately trimmed and shaped by man.  Such would not meet the standards for inclusion in a temple mural.   It wasn't until I saw a slightly shorter and untouched version of the same pine in Sardegna that my hopes were raised that these iconic trees might be included.   It's from the pine cones of these trees that the yummy pine nuts included in so many Italian recipe's originate.   Oak trees and maple trees are also found throughout Italy.   One of my favorite drives is the tree lined, fully canopied tunnel of foliage that exists for several miles in the campagna as we enter the town of Rieti, just a little over an hour from Rome.

Olive trees are also found throughout Italy.  Most that you see on the mainland are planted by man in neatly groomed orchards, some having been cultivated for many hundreds of years.   These would most likely not be included in the mural.   But there are others that grow wild among the hills and fields of red poppies and yellow wildflowers.   In the spring, the variety of wildflowers and colors is spectacular, especially on the islands of Sicilia and Sardegna.    It was in Sardegna recently where we were able to find large areas of native campagna that appeared to be just like I imagine the fields and hills within the Garden of Eden.   I know that the Temples in Brazil and Central America probably portray lush jungle scenes typical of their climate.   Somehow, a hot sweaty jungle never did appeal to me as being like heaven.  By contrast, the beautiful trees and flowering fields,  gentle rolling hills, and tall snow-capped mountains in the background are my idea of heaven in Italy.

There will probably be included some images of the wildlife and birds of the campagna.   I would expect to find deer, goats, wild boar, birds, and other of God's creations just as they now appear among the fields and hills of Italy.   They say that on the island of Sardegna that there are more goats and sheep than people!  

It's such a diverse country with many micro-cultures embedded in every region.  Each region is so different.  I think it's one of the reasons why Italy is the number one favorite destination country for American tourists who come to Europe.  There is so much to see and do.   Once you've seen the "top ten" postcard icons in Rome, the real fun begins for those who venture out into the campagna.   The inhabitants of each area are so proud of their diverse history, heritage, customs, and especially their food.   One of the artists in Piazza Navona tells me that the best selling paintings are those of the Italian campagna or coastline scenes followed by the picturesque flower filled balcony scenes.

We have fallen deeply in love with the Italian campagna and can't wait to see which of the beautiful images of the countryside will be captured and portrayed by the inspired artist(s) who are entrusted to represent heavenly scenes of Italy in the Temple.  It will be a sight to behold!


  1. Wow, did you take those pictures? They are beautiful! It won't be long now before you come "home". I love reading your blog.

  2. Wish so much that the gorgeous temple of which you speak could have been completed while you were there to see the finished product. We miss you and are looking forward to seeing you again! Janet Doxey