Matilda’s return to Canossa

For three weeks IMG_0472already I am living in the tower under Matilda’s castle in Canossa, the spot where in 1077 emperor Henry IV had to wait for three days until he was admitted in the castle in order to do penitence with pope Gregory VII. From here I have an incredible view on the landscape around the castle, a view that must have been rooted in Matilda’s heart. But I not only look at the ‘terre Matildiche’, but also at the little piazza in front of ‘my’ tower. It’s the place of several manifestations to be celebrated this year at the occasion of Matilda’s death 900 years ago. Yesterday I witnessed a very special event: the inauguration and blessing of a monument for Matilda, next to the entrance of the castle. It felt as if Matilda was returning to the place of her ancestors.

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Places for Matilda

During my research for ‘Queen of the Vatican‘ I visited many places of Matilda in Italy, and also in Belgium, where she took the initiative for building the Abbey in Orval. Now, during the presentations of my book in the Netherlands, I realize more and more that I am making the reverse movement: I am creating places for Matilda here. Places to anchor her story and her energy in this special and beautiful country.

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My new heart labyrinth

20150125 12-32-38In this month I am doing several presentations of the Dutch version of my book Queen of the Vatican. It’s quite special to do this in combination with walking the heart labyrinth. On the photo above you see me walking it for the first time, in De Schaapshoeve, a beautiful spiritual centre in the Netherlands. Together with Dafne Arlman I designed this portable labyrinth, using some of the beautiful graphic work that she made for the book. Continue reading

Toeval bestaat niet, het valt je toe

10891782_1105301212828742_394198918707217557_n It’s the motto of my book Queen of the Vatican. Difficult to translate in English, but it would be something like ‘coincidence doesn’t exist, it just comes to you’. Last weekend I was in Berlin, and I thought it was just for a holiday. No Matilda for awhile. I wanted to visit the Museum Insel, to see the Sumerian and Etruscan art, a long-standing wish. But then the dreaming started. And those of you who have read my book will understand that the big things in my life usually start with big dreams. Continue reading

Happy Matilda year!

300px-Matilde_di_Canossa2015 will be a memorable year. Matilda passed away at 24 July 1115. So it’s 900 years after. In Italy there will be several festivities and commemorations. Pope Francis will probably dedicate a mass to her. For me it will be fascinating to see how she will be remembered: which stories will be told about her, and how will the celebrations be orchestrated? I hope to contribute by publishing my book in Italian translation. And on this blog you can follow my eye-witness reports on the spot, from Matilda’s tower in Canossa, my resort during a considerable part of the year. So I wish all of us a happy Matilda year!