Monday, February 27, 2012

Vatican City - Feb 2012

As part of our Rome immersion tour, we spent a whole day in Vatican City and still just saw a fraction of it.  In this home of the popes, it made me wish I had a better understanding of the Catholic religion because it would have made much more sense to me.  Of course, there are many Christian people and symbols that transcend all of the splinter groups that form the various Bible based churches in the world today and so it wasn't all lost on me.

St. Peter's Basilica was just beautiful and HUGE.  From afar, it doesn't look so imposing.

This is the dome taken from a courtyard of the Vatican museums.

This is the entrance of St. Peter's as seen while departing from our tour.  Squint at the second story balcony between the center set of columns... that is where the Pope stands to read sermons on high holy days.

I loved the statues of Jesus (with the cross) and his disciples lining the top of the basilica as well as the colonnades flanking it on St. Peter's Square.

Inside the basilica, you couldn't help but stand in awe, whether you worship God, allah or the cows in your local pasture, because it's just gorgeous.

Maybe it's just my middle-aged vision, but it didn't look huge from the entrance door.  Then as you walk closer you get a feel for the true scale of it.  The altar is enormous as evidenced by the people that look like ants milling around it.  The entire thing is in bronze and just massive.  I especially like how the sun cooperated as it came streaming through a couple windows on the left.  

Above are the girls standing behind the altar with that sunlight making for a really great photo.

The younger daughter is a bit blurry in this shot as she was getting tired of me taking pics and thus I had to snap it quickly since she was becoming a moving target.  These two cherubic angels are holding a large basin of holy water and give you a better idea of the magnitude of everything inside St. Peter's.  Mario our guide called them the monster baby angels because they're so big.

Above you'll see the tomb of the unknown-to-me important religious figure in the basilica - can't recall the name, but obviously somebody memorable because it was a tad over-the-top.

Obviously this is a statue representing one of the popes, but I can't remember which one - less ostentatious and more my speed if I had requested a tasteful memorial.

Michelangelo's Pieta was unbelievably beautiful.  It was as if you could expect a tear to roll down Mary's face as she held Jesus on her lap after they had taken him down from the cross.  

Our tour through the Vatican Museums included the following pictorial highlights...

◆ map rooms from the 15th-16th centuries that the teen and I had already seen on our Med cruise back in July (pic taken in same spot as teen with her friend back in the summer and then one with her little sister this month)

◆ bust of a man wearing a mask - very creepy, indeed

◆ original Laocoon and His Sons sculpture from the first century BC, poetically disturbing with the sea serpents attacking them

It would take a very long time to really see all that the Vatican has to offer.  We spent the morning running through centuries of history and artwork for a good overview.  One day I would like to return - after the girls are grown - and really take my time so I can appreciate what I'm seeing.

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