Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day Two - St Peter's

After a late breakfast we headed to the tabaccheria for Metro tickets and then headed toward the Vatican. Here I am showing one lovely mosaic on the way to the Vatican and the rest are photos of St Peter's with some identifications but no commentary.

Remember, you can click on the photos to embiggen and see detail. (My friends and I have declared the embiggen IS SO a real word, so there.)

St Teresa of Avila when not in ecstasy

Saint Andrew, for all you Scots, Greeks, and Russians

Saint Helena

Saint Veronica

Altar in the chapel of St Gregory the Great

Altar with relics of St Gregory the Great

St Peter

Because I was taking photos without flash, the photos appear much lighter than what the eye sees. I was actually struck by how dark St Peter's seemed compared to what I expected. I realized that the papal masses I saw on television over the years were well lit and most photos had probably compensated much as my camera did. The crowd was dense but well behaved. The Pietà was being cleaned for JP2's beatification and curtained off so we could not see it.

I was beginning to realize how effective baroque statuary is with its sense of movement and drama. I also emerged thanking God for Martin Luther. Prior to the trip I wrote to my Baptist sister and said that her brother, on the rather Catholic end of the Episcopalian spectrum, would be a raging Protestant at the Vatican. And I was.

Perhaps it should be said at the outset that I did not go to Rome as a pilgrim in any sense. For all that I love church history this was a cultural and aesthetic trip for me. Coming with that stance it is not surprising that few things struck me as intrinsically spiritual while there. It is difficult for me to see St Peter's as designed for anything other than impressing visitors with the power of the papacy. Sorry, folks. My mystical and sacramental nature is deeply Catholic but it is very un-Roman. This is why I had, for decades, a love/hate relationship with the Catholic Church that I resolved by becoming a Reformed Catholic, i.e., Episcopalian.

More aspects of my now somewhat quirky spirituality will emerge as I narrate more of this trip.

I did go into the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament to pray and I prayed for family and friends, local, scattered, and online. Some who read here were remembered by name. I prayed a decade of the Rosary, having bought one for a coworker, though I did not take it out of the package, was just aware of it in my camera case as I recited the prayers.

After St Peter's we had lunch at the Caffè del Morro. Then we headed to the Vatican Museums for which we had tickets in advance, thus avoiding the line that can take hours. And that is another post.

Ci vediamo!

--the BB


Fran said...

If I was not already Catholic, of the Roman sort, I cannot imagine how anyone would become one.

Especially after a trip to Rome! I made many a Martin Luther joke on my last trip there!

Paul said...

I think you know, Fran, that I love the Catholic Church. I just have... issues with its hierarchy. As most of my good Catholic friends do also.