Monday, December 27, 2010
The Vatican, Pantheon, and Trevi Fountain
The Vatican experience was really amazing. The idea that it is it's own country with 900 inhabitants is interesting, with those inhabitants being just the cardinals and the Pope intrigued me. Why always 900 inhabitants you may ask? Because the Cardinals can't marry and so when one dies, that one is replaced. This is why the population never increases. One thing that really fascinated me, was all of the private collections of the Popes. One Pope collected marble figurines of animals, another huge marble Roman statues, while another collecting maps around the world as big as the size of the wall. To me, their wealth seemed endless.
One room was dedicated to intricate tapestries of religious themes. These specific tapestries were all hung in a temperature controlled room.
Yet another room was titled the Immaculate Conception. Many people believe that the Immaculate Conception stands for the point in time when the Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus, but in reality it is her birthday. In this room there is a shrine to the Virgin Mary. There are murals painted that have her depicted in the middle of the painting with Jesus and God on each side of her. Typically, the Virgin Mary is depicted to the side of Christ. In this room, every Pope has written about the Immaculate Conception in their own native tongue.
Obviously, the Sistine Chapel was amazing. I found the mural of the Last Supper beautiful as well as the Story of the Bible painted on the panels. Symbolism in medieval art is prominent, that you could stare at one for a long period of time just trying to decipher all of the symbols and their meanings. The two main creators that were hired by the Pop himself were Michelangelo and Raphael. Michelangelo, being known for his sculptures and Raphael being known for his painting style and technique.
We also toured three basilicas that were equally important. The first being the Basilica of Saint Peter. In many of these basilicas lies the tombs of Popes and prominent male and female people who fought for and defended Catholicism. It was a pagan country until the Emperor Constantine's vision of the cross while in battle. Rumor has it, that this was when he decided to convert to Catholicism.
Coretta said that visiting the vatican was her favorite memory. She enjoys history and especially art. Our tour guide was always amazed with how attentive she was for her age. This will definitely be a memory she will remember always.
Overall, it is a must see stop if you are traveling in Rome. It is good from a religious standpoint as well as a good look into religious philosophy and history as a study.