Several weeks ago I wrote a post about meeting an Indian (from India, not an American Indian!) and we had a discussion about religion during which he told me that there are literally millions of Gods in Hinduism. This was very puzzling to me as I couldn’t imagine how Hindus figure out to which one they should pray? Which God was the right one for each person?
Today I visited the Basilica di San Zeno and the concept of millions of Gods actually makes sense to me now!
I wasn’t going to visit the Basilica as it seemed very far out of the way on the map, but it was included as a free site on my Verona Card and most things in Italy look farther away than they actually are because the streets are really quite small/skinny. It is also the place where Romeo & Juliet are married in Shakespeare’s play. So I figured I best go.
Zeno, who was born in Africa and lived during the period of 300-371, is the patron saint of Verona, the 8th Bishop of Verona, and converted the city to Catholicism.
The Basilica was consecrated in 806 and is considered one of the better preserved examples of Romanesque architecture in Northern Italy. Zeno’s body is preserved in the crypt of the church (photo attached).
What I liked about the Basilica is that there is a beautiful courtyard and while the church is quite large it feels cozy. There are also many, many frescoes.
Then I came across the statue of Saint Zeno, “San Zeno che ride” which means “the saint who laughs”, or more colloquially, “Laughing Saint Zeno”. I love it! I just made me happy that he was happy, ya know?
Zeno is also the patron saint of fishermen and anglers, and newborn babies as well as children learning to speak and walk. Not that I have any real connection or interest in these persons, but I can certainly relate to the “learning to speak” part, which can certainly have a myriad of meanings, as can “children”! Later, I also found out that Zeno was born on April 12th which is the birthday of my sister Mary.
I just felt good about this guy and then it struck me that this may be the equivalent of how Hindus find their God. I looked on-line and found that there are at least 10,000 Saints, but I think maybe I found the one I feel somehow connected to, in some strange way! My personal patron saint.
I also like the fact that I know where he is in case I need to talk to him (physically or mentally)!