This terra cotta iconic image of the Virgin and Child sits on the mantel in my home. My wife and I were admiring how the image looks in the morning sun. The icon was a gift from Francesco Bernardi, my host in Bologna, who, with his wife, welcomed me into his home for dinner. Such warm, generous Christian people. That the icon is rendered here in terra cotta is a reference to the terra cotta façades characteristic of Bologna’s historic buildings. Further, Francesco explained that the image, the Madonna of San Luca, is iconic of Bologna. The original icon arrived in Bologna in the 12th century, carried by a Byzantine pilgrim who brought it from the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople. The bishop of Bologna placed it in a chapel at the top of a hill. Later, a grand basilica was built to house the icon. Below is the original; I will return to Bologna to pray before the original one day, but until then, I am so, so grateful to have this terra cotta reproduction in my home. Grazie mille, Francesco!: