I was so proud of my daughter.

We recently took a Disney Cruise out of Italy.  It was a Magic trip.  We started in Rome and made several stops along the coast.

My family thinks I’m a Nervous Nelly when it comes to boarding times, but the cruise staff makes way too many jokes about leaving people who don’t show up on time.  The benefit of taking an “official” excursion is you are never late for boarding and someone else is responsible for planning the entire event.  The excursions usually involve chartered buses and tour guides.  Most of these kinds of tours are well-oiled machines, running like precision clockwork.

About ten years ago, we were on a “Disney Official” excursion that actually did run late.  When we got back to the dock, there were cruise workers at the far end of the dock standing and waving for us to run to get on the boat.  I don’t know how much they pay in fines for being docked past their allotted time, but it must be a hefty price for the number of discussions and threats of being left that go into each announcement of the all aboard time.

That’s why I was anxious about our plans one particular day.  We were on our own!  If we missed the boat, we had no one to blame except ourselves.  I have to point out that there was not an excursion that did both of the things we wanted to do.  Maybe because to normal human beings, there really wasn’t enough time!  We were docked in Livorno, Italy but this was the closest we would get to Florence and of course my daughter has always wanted to see the Leaning Tower of Pisa sooooooo, we left early on a shuttle to downtown Livorno, had to figure out how to buy a bus ticket to the train station, ride the bus, figure out how to operate the kiosk to buy a train ticket to Florence, find the dang train, ride 1.5 hours to Florence, take a taxi to the museum, take a tour to see Michelangelo’s David, take another taxi, another train, change trains, another taxi to the Leaning Tower and finally a taxi back to Livorno.  We did all that with three hours to spare.  My anxiety was low for most of the day.  My daughter planned it all.  She had every train time, costs, schedules, and tour time (purchased in advance online by my wife).  Her scheduling was a thing of beauty.

In spite of all the landmarks, my favorite thing I saw that day was the Hospital of the Innocents in Florence.  I walked several blocks to find it.  It wasn’t actually far from the museum housing David, but let’s just say I didn’t take the shortest route.  The Hospital of the Innocents is the world’s oldest orphanage dating from the early 1400s.

I got a little choked up just seeing the orphanage.  I’ve seen David and while he is an amazing piece of art, the Hospital of the Innocents meant something else to me.  The Hospital was founded by The Silk Guild in Florence to care for the foundlings of Florence. It had a “wheel of secret refuge”, a special door where a desperate and destitute mother could place a baby and rotate the wheel so that the child was inside the safety of the hospital and the mother could remain anonymous.

Over the arches of the hospital are a series of “Tondi”.  These are ceramic ovals with stunning carvings of infants wrapped in swaddling clothes.  One of these is used as the logo for the American Academy of Pediatrics.  I don’t always see eye to eye with the AAP but I love that this is our logo.  By choosing an infant tondo from the facade of The Hospital for the Innocents, we pediatricians have honored the first recorded group and facility whose mission was to rescue babies.

HoI Tondo1

All ideas, great or small, must start with a single thought by a single person.  In this case, somebody, a single person, a good person, originally had the idea to rescue babies.  That person had a heart for children.  I have no idea if he/she had any medical training but this person had the heart of Christ and cared for the Innocents.  It is a beautiful legacy that this man or woman cared for the ones that Jesus loved.  “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14 ESV.

The founder of The Hospital of the Innocents had the heart of Christ and the heart of a pediatrician.  I was deeply moved to be there.  What I had anticipated being a stressful day ended up being a gift from heaven.

Thank you Olivia.


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