Thursday, October 15, 2009

St. Peter's Basilica

We spent the morning at St. Peter's Basilica, first with a mass. Under the main nave by St. Peter's grave is a full circle of chapels of all different sizes. There are several services going on at once and you can hear the songs and prayers being recited as they echo through the chambers. Our chapel was built with donations from the Irish.

Afterwards Sister Anne gave us a tour, pointing out a lot of the information specific to the Franciscans; like the statue of St. Francis which is the first one from the main apse. And the statues of Francis and St. Clare among the ones that stand atop the collonades that ring the plaza outside.There are four rows of columns and in most spots you see all of them but if you stand on one specific circle on each side, it looks like just one column... here's a video to show you.

I had read that when St. Peter's was built they didn't want to put anything in there that would fade or deteriorate, so no frescos and limited paintings. Instead, it is marble and metals everywhere But, looking around, it seemed there were a number of large paintings all along walls and in side chapels. However, Anne pointed out that they were actually murals. The Vatican has a color palette of 35,000. On some of the murals, even when looking right up close it's hard to discern the individual stones. I was able to get a picture of a close-up and a mural at full size. I'll post that in a few days.

Francis' connection to St. Peter's goes back to the very beginnings of his conversion. He was on a pilgrimage when he came to the original Basilica and saw that people were only putting in small amounts of coins as tribute and donation to the church. So he made a big show of giving away much of his money, drawing lots of attention and shaming others into donating more. Afterwards, he sees some beggars outside and asks to switch clothes with one. He spends the day begging and feels a large sense of fulfillment in doing so.

I was told not to go to the top of the Basilica because it's basically a crawl space and I'd be hunched over for a looooong time. No argument here.

So after the tour we were set free for our last few hours in Rome and on our trip.

I went over to the Pantheon, an amazing structure and found some risotto. Food is awfully expensive here, even if you don't consider the conversion from Euros to Dollars. It's worse for me because I can't just pick up a slice from a stand-up cart or grab a sandwich. None of those places, that I've found, have anything gluten-free, only restaurants.

What can you do except be happy I live in New York and have lots of reasonably priced options.

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