|Vatican Museum courtyard with St Peters|
in the background
|Silenus with the child Dionysus- |
this one was my favorite statue
|Athena- goddess of war, |
I really liked this one too
|Etruscan exhibit (Josh was pretty excited about this one)|
|Hall of maps- the ceiling was awesome|
|the ancient city walls outside of the Basilica|
|Basilico di San Giovanni|
|the HUGE bronze doors (and me)|
Being the Archbasilica of Rome and containing the papal throne, it is ranked above St Peter’s Basilica. This makes the Archbasilica the “number one” Catholic church in the world. There are six Popes buried there. Attached to the church is the original Papal Palace that was used before the Vatican was established for the Pope. The Lateran Palace (as it is known) was given to the Bishop of Rome by the Roman Emperor Constantine in the early 300’s. Before the palace was given to the Bishop, it was used for Emperors and their councils. The size of the church is very large, one of the largest I have ever seen (but smaller than St Peters Basilica). Before entering the church you must see the enormous central bronze doors that are original Roman doors brought from the Imperial Forum. To the left of the doors at the end of the portico is a statue of Constantine the Great.
|the High Alter with the heads|
|the amazingly ornate ceiling|
|Pope Clemens XII tomb|
The interior is exquisite and overwhelming. Every time I enter these large churches it reminds me of how small I am compared to the world (maybe that is what they intended when building these churches). The nave of the church has twelve niches with statues of the twelve apostles. The ceiling of the nave has crests of past Popes and is ornately decorated. Above the high alter at the front of the church is what looks like a tomb. It is said to have the heads of St Peter and St Paul, but there are questions surrounding if they are still there. They may have been removed during the French Occupation of Rome in the 18th century. The high alter can only be used by the Pope and it contains a relic that is said to be a part of St Peter’s communion table. Tradition also talks about the “Sweating Stone” which is a part of Pope Sergius IV’s tomb. It is said that when this tomb starts to sweat, it is time to start weeping for the current Pope. When the tomb sweats, the death of the current Pope is eminent.
|The "Sweating Stone"|
While we were there, many nuns were visiting the church and there was a ceremony about to start (it looked like a wedding ceremony). We also saw about 8 confession booths with four or five different languages offered. There weren’t many tourists in this church, just mainly nuns and people gathering for the ceremony. It seems that the big attraction in Rome is St Peters Basilica.
Outside of the Lateran Palace is the Lateran Obelisk, the largest standing obelisk in the world. The construction of the Obelisk was started by Thutmose III and completed before the Karnak temple in Thebes, Egypt. It was originally meant to be shipped to Constantinople, but it was shipped to Rome instead. It was moved to its current site in 1588. After taking in all of the sights of San Giovanni we walked to another church called San Clemente. Entering this church was like going back in time! Construction on this church was completed in 1123 and the mosaic in the apse is amazing. Titled “Triumph of the Cross”, it has twelve doves symbolizing the twelve apostles and the figures of Madonna and St John, St John the Baptist and other saints surround the cross.
One final stop on our pilgrimage included the Scala Santa (holy stairs) across the piazza from San Giovanni. It is said that Jesus walked up these stairs in Pontius Pilate’s palace in Jerusalem. Because Jesus walked on these steps, you can only ascend them on your knees. The stairs are surrounded by an amazing marble archway with paintings, and at the top of the stairs is a beautiful representation of the crucifixion.
|the Holy Stairs- people are climbing on their knees|
By the time we were done with our mini pilgrimage, we were really tired and I was cranky because it was so hot. My Scandinavian blood is not cut out for the heat of Rome! So we headed back to the B&B for a nice nap in the air conditioning. On the way, we found a great pasticceria with Sicilian cannoli. Since we had been talking them up to James and Sofia we stopped to buy some. We didn’t forget the cannoli! We also found a travel agency named “Tutti Fruitti”. LOL.
|One last look at my favorite fountain|
|Piazza Navona again|
Another great vacation in Italy! And we learned a lot this week about Catholicism (not only from the churches we visited, but also from Sofia and James). I’m impressed with their devotion to the Catholic faith and it makes me question my own faith… Something to think about.