Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rome Continued...

I posted this picture first, because it is a great reminder that everything in Rome is designed with the Vatican in mind. This was taken on top of one of the seven hills in Rome and when you walk to the far end of this picture, there is a beautiful landscape of the city. By the time we got to the wall to look out, we realized that in the center of the landscape was St. Peter's Cathedral. You can see it in this picture, in the dead center.

Our third day in Rome (second day of touring) started at the catacombs, where over 500,000 Romans were buried, including a pope or two. Since they have been discovered, the Catholic church has been working to remove many of the bones of the residents, but when you go down into these underground burial sites, the smell is still disturbing. I am not sure if it is because of the moist conditions added to the half million bodies, but it stays with you. We were not allowed to take pictures, so you'll have to trust me that it was creepy down there. You walk through narrow corridors, that occasionally have larger rooms hewn from the stone on either side, filled with long narrow rectangles carved into the stone to lay the bodies.

The tour groups were large and there were many in different languages going on at the same time, so I know I missed a majority of the narrative. There were mosaics high on the walls - pictures created to commemorate various Christian leaders. During the time of Nero, when the Christians were being persecuted, they would secretly meet down in these burial caves. That was probably the only reason why I wanted to see them.

It took about 40 minutes to get the stink out of our sinuses when we surfaced again.

The rest of that morning was filled with some quick site seeing. Rome truly does have seven hilltops on which the city was built. I think we stopped at three this day and hit a few more on the next day. Here are a few of the highlights from our ride:

This is our beautiful babes sitting on that wall I mentioned earlier, with Rome in the distance.

At that site was a church - my mom liked this mural because Mary is not hovering over Jesus like she is in most of the paintings. It was interesting - in the pictures where Mary is next to Jesus or behind him, her head is typically elevated higher than Jesus'. Keep an eye out for that when you seeing paintings of Christ. It will help you know the painter's view of Mary. Technically, when the church spread into Rome, there weren't Protestants and Catholics. When you look at the art, in the early years there is not an emphasis on Mary. As Nero tried to snuff out this religious movement, there was a bond that held the church together and it was not Jesus' mother, but Jesus Himself.

The girls found this tub outside of the church and thought it would be cool to jump inside and get their picture taken...what do you think?

One of the stops we made had a large wall surrounding an enclosed garden and basilica (church). In the middle of the wall was an old door with an empty key hole. There was nothing ornate about the door, and when we pulled up, it looked like we were parking in the back lot of a run down high school or something like that. The guide had us all get out and look into the key hole. And this is what we saw:

If you click on the picture you might be able to see it better. Foolish me - I thought it would be a statue of Jesus, reaching out his scarred hands to the sinner, but it was St. Peter's Cathedral. Hmmm...

We also stopped at several fountains in the middle of the city - not the normal City Hall structure that we see in America. This fountain is called Trevi Fountain. It has been in many movies, like "Three Coins in a Fountain" and was packed with tourists, taking in its beauty.

And finally, I wanted to include this square that we stopped and looked at. Behind me are large statues, probably 20 feet high, that Constantine carved for his bath house. (We'll talk more about Constantine later, but everything he did was on a massive scale.) There are some government offices in this square and there is also the "only place that you can get married outside of a Catholic ceremony" in these buildings. That is what the guide said - not sure if she meant that you could go to the justice of the peace here or what. I don't think they delineate between Christians and Catholics in Rome. You are either Catholic or you are not...

Anyway, the reason I posted this picture is because at the back side of this square was a large banner with a man's face on it. The man's name is Gilad Shalit, and he is an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped by Hamas near the Gaza Strip in June of 2006. When we were in Israel, they were preparing for a week long march, protesting his capture. The march started in the north of Israel and for a week, thousands of people walked the length of Israel, crying for Shalit's release. Orit told me that the day after we left, she would join the walk for the day, since it was going past where she lived.

This is a big deal in Israel, this man's release. When we walked into the square, I saw the face of the man (boy) and my first thought was, "Wow, he looks like that Israeli soldier." Of course, it was him and I was struck at how this issue is not simply an Israeli issue - there are groups all over the world demanding his release. Israel has offered 1,000 terrorists in exchange for this one soldier - the only condition is that the prisoners cannot live in the main area of Israel, they can only live in the Gaza strip. Hamas will not accept these conditions.

So, in closing, I am asking that you pray for Galid Shalit's release. I cannot imagine what he has been through, but this means a lot to Israel.

1 comment:

  1. It seems the Vatican and some of the other buildings have taken on the role of being idolized. Granted they are impressive but its not about buildings its all about Jesus. And yes the girls are beautiful and look like they are enjoying the tour.