Tag Archives: Museum

Day 9 in Rome

Saturday Oct 12

Day 9 in Rome

Perhaps I have been too worried about finding the right place to eat. There seems to be a formula for finding a good restaurant in Rome:

Step 1: Find a restaurant.

Step 2: Eat there.

At least, this has worked for me.

When I get back, I will be facing brown rice, tofu and chicken breasts.

People trying to sell tours of the Vatican museum paint such horror stories of waiting in line trying to get a ticket. The wait was just about an hour, and then 16 Euros and I’m in and free to wander.

There is so much art here. I’m not focusing so much on information as taking in the beauty.

Many, many picture and carvings focused on telling the story, mostly Biblical stories, though some of later saints. Beauty was put in the service of impressing the Christian story on people’s minds and hearts.

I’m very glad I took the tour of the Vatican Museum, and I’m very glad I came back by myself.

Such an investment in the telling of stories.
Relationships are communicated in stories. A large part of knowing people is knowing their stories.

How well do we know the stories of our faith?

Sarcophagus1.jpg[1]        Sarcophagus3.jpg[1]

Those who know the stories will recognize the images:

The sacrifice of Isaac

The bronze serpent in the desert

The Annunciation

St. Lawrence (with grill)

St. Peter (keys)

St. Paul (book and sword)

Bartholomew (knife and empty skin)

Coronation of Mary.

There are some pictures of contemporary Church figures with Biblical Saints and some pictures of Bible stories with the characters wearing contemporary clothing surrounded by contemporary architecture (contemporary with the artists, not the Biblical figures). This shows that the Bible stories are timeless, as well as rooted in a specific historical time, and we are a part of the story.

Why does the Vatican Museum have ancient Egyptian art, so many Greek and Roman statues including Emperors and pagan gods?

To share the Gospel story we must be lovers of the human story, for the story of the universe is the story of salvation, and if we are to share the human story with the human race, we must know the human story. There are some things, however, that work against the project.

Hundreds of the Greek and Roman statues have inscribed in bold red letters “Munificent Pio VI PM” or something like that. It is either someone seeking to butter up the pope or the pope himself feeding his own voracious ego. Either way, it is not good.

There seem to be two basic errors when encountering the Gospel story:

  1. I am not part of the story, or
  2. The story is about me.

In St. Peter’s square there are so many references to Alexander VII. Of course, when you are pope in the middle ages or renaissance, the temptation to think “It’s all about me” must be enormous.

Raphael did some good stuff. I especially liked his transfiguration and coronation of Mary,

Transfig.jpg[1]            Coronation.jpg[1]

but best of all was one room, on one side The School of Athens, and on the other, Disputation on the Holy Sacrament, actually about the triumph of the belief in the Real Presence. My response is: “I want one.” Ah, well.

Schoolathens.jpg[1]    Disputation.jpg[1]

Could never take enough pictures here. Thank heavens for the internet.

Psalm for today: 115

Day 4 in Rome

Monday 10-7

Day 4 in Rome

Went to an ATM machine, and was very grateful to push 2 for English.  I am glad they are hospitable to those who have not mastered the language.

Took a tour of the Vatican museum and the Sistine Chapel. Lots of good info, but wondered what I missed. Just left on our own in the Basilica.  I will come again.

That said, it was wonderful. The court of the Pine Cone with the seed of new life referring to the mysteries of the universe was powerful.


The Sistine Chapel was an irreplaceable experience. Such vivid colors. I’m so glad they cleaned it up. The conclaves were held there. The Second Vatican Council met there. I stood there. Wow.  (They wouldn’t let us take pictures, but pictures are readily available on line).

The images are timeless.

It was build when Michelangelo was born as a fortress in case of invasion of Muslim hordes. Michelangelo made it come to life with the story of the universe.

They had a double spiral staircase that was really interesting.


The Basilica of St. Peter is like nothing else. The Cathedral in Cologne is huge and impressive but cannot match this magnificence.  

There are huge statues, some of earlier and medieval figures, some of relatively modern (John Bosco and St. Vincent de Paul). Inspiration to learn more about some, like St. Bruno. There are also huge mosaics but you can’t tell they are mosaics without looking very closely. There is the Tomb of Blessed John Paul II.Image

There we see the body of Blessed John XXIII in a glass case (he looks pale, but pretty much like you’d see at an average wake).


Many events of the Christian story are being told, and others hinted at. This is just a tiny sampling of the vast ocean of stories of the people, through the ages, who kept the Gospel story going.

When I first walked into St. Peter’s, on the right was the Pieta of Michelangelo. I thought, “Oh, yah, I’ve seen a bunch of those.”


“Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, this is the real one!”


On the front wall is a great sculpture of a chair. Of course, this is a great celebration of the Chair of Peter. For all the gallons of cynical ink spilled on the subject, if our faith is true in any sense, the Chair of Peter is a gift from God, and therefore worthy of celebration.

It is said to contain fragments of the simple wooden chair of Peter.  Did he have an official chair? Very possibly; it was a custom far older than Christianity for a teacher to sit in a chair that was a sign of his authority.

There is a niche for another statue. Maybe for Saint John Paul II? Who would be more likely than him? I bet that a big bunch of people would be willing to donate to the project.

Oct 7 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Prayer for today: Joyful mysteries of the rosary, reflecting on God’s call to continue passing on the story.