Roadside Stop and Prays?

May 29th, 2007, 01:37 PM
  #1  
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Roadside Stop and Prays?

Hi everyone,
Just got back from a whirlwind 2 weeks throughout Italy. I found I came home with some unanswered questions--mainly because I forgot to ask!
1. We rented a car and drove throughout Tuscany and a lot throughout Chianti. What are those roadside 3 sided, roofed usually stone buildings with religious pictures/statues and Coke bottles filled with flowers inside? With the way they drive (passing on blind curves) I could certainly understand needing a quickie prayer stop. But, really, does anyone know what they are?
2. In Tuscany, specifically Greve and going up to the Parco San Michele, there are these yellow poles I would say about 5 or 6 feet tall, with orange round, pointed "hats" on the top of the poles. What's that?
Ok....thanks for any info.
Retired1 is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 06:54 AM
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ttt

I, too, would like to know about those religous shrines. They're in Germany also.
BoniseA is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 07:12 AM
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They are also common in Greece and I've always been lead to believe that they are either as commemoration of a fatal road crash, or as thanks for a near miss. You will certainly see many on some of the winding mountain roads with hairpin bends.
Maria_H is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 07:30 AM
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"I've always been lead to believe that they are either as commemoration of a fatal road crash, or as thanks for a near miss."

Thatīs what I have heard, too.
elina is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 07:37 AM
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They can be either a commemoration for a fatal crash or - if they are older and look more like shrines on a pole - have been posted at old crossroads, roads to places of worship & pilgrimage etc. for travelers to stop and say a prayer.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 08:28 AM
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According to my wife, a native German, such a mini-structure - known as a "Marterl" (martyr) - is a reminder of Christ's sacrifice. They've been around for ages in Catholic rural areas, well before the automobile, and are not a 'commemoration of a fatal road crash'.

She says you'll even find them out in the fields, placed in positions where the faithful could pause for a moment of reflection as they pass by or work the field. Peasants were to offer prayers at noon and 6pm and this was a convenient place for that.
TuckH is offline  
May 30th, 2007, 08:40 AM
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Most roadside shrines in Catholic or Orthodox Europe are long-standing (ie beyond anyone's memory) shrines. In German-speaking countries (including Alsace and Lorraine) they're most often crucifixes, in Ireland they're very often shrines to some manifestation of Mary and in Latin and Orthodox Europe they're a wide mixture of saints and Christ.

Road crash comemmorations are, compared to the sheer weight of roadside shrines, pretty infrequent, though there are some Resistance and (in Italy) Partisan memorials that can be easily mistaken if you're driving fast.

In Protestant Europe, most shrines will be very recent (last 20 years), commemorating some kind of fatality. Obviously they'll rarely have a picture or statue.
flanneruk is offline  
May 31st, 2007, 03:25 AM
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You asked: 2. In Tuscany, specifically Greve and going up to the Parco San Michele, there are these yellow poles I would say about 5 or 6 feet tall, with orange round, pointed "hats" on the top of the poles. What's that?

**** They mark the route of the gas pipeline from the Val d'Arno to the Val di Greve (in this particular case).
toscoman is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 06:24 PM
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I knew you guys would know the answers!
I would never have thought there was a pipeline there, but duh, I guess that's how they get their gas.
And yes, I would be more inclined to think those most of those little stone houses that I saw were built well before the automobile. I didn't know about the noon and 6 pm prayer times, so this makes sense that that is what they're for and for religious reflection. You could actually fit a couple of people in these little "houses".
Thanks again for the answers!
Retired1 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 07:05 PM
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The Angelus was the common Catholic prayer that is prayed at 6:00am, noon, and 6:00pm. Traditionally the Angelus bell would ring and people would drop everything to pray.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelus

A relatively famous painting by Millet, called "The Angelus" shows 2 workers pausing to pray in the fields:
http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/m...gelus.jpg.html

Once when I was in the midst of making a purchase at a monastery gift shop, the noon Angelus bell rang and everyone in the shop stopped and prayed the Angelus. I remembered the responses enough to pray along; the monk tending the cash register was leading the prayer.

When we were cross country skiing in the Austrian countryside (in 1983) we came across many little shrines in the fields. Very beautiful in the snow.

The roadside crucifixes in Romania are close to life sized, and nearly always covered with a pointed roof.
noe847 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2007, 10:42 PM
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This passage from DH Lawrence's Twilight in Italy has always stayed with me, referring to the statues.

http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au.../chapter1.html
SeaUrchin is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2007, 03:28 AM
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Here in Australia they would definitely be road accident memorials. There's been a proliferation of them in recent years. I know this is generally not the case in Europe, though I did wonder whether the white crosses all over mountains in southern Switzerland marked spots from which people had fallen. Not so, my Swiss relatives say. We also stayed in a village in Graubunden a few years ago with a large and seemingly active Catholic church. But in this village the roadside shrines were completely empty - devoid of statues, flowers or anything. I've always regretted not asking at the time, but if anyone on this list can enlighten me why this would be so I'd be very grateful!
Suelynne is offline  
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