Wednesday, January 2, 2013

20: Rome, March - April 1932

View Larger Map
Arrived in Rome evening of March 25.

Billions of dollars have been poured out here in the capital city of Catholicism on beautiful buildings, fountains, columns and art work. Much of it is owned directly by the church whose head resides in the tiny area of the Vatican (A). The basilica San Pietro (B) with dome designed by Michelangelo is so impressive on outside but so barnlike on the inside that it leaves much to be desired. Huge round arched passages with beautiful side chapels and sculpture work. The Swiss guards with striped uniforms and halberds (spears) are prominent.

Basilica San Pietro
Source:  Wikipedia

I wrangled an audience with the Pope by going to the American College (for clergy) and telling them that I was interested (I didn’t say how) in their church, and showing them my passport.

It took about an hour and a half to go into the inner palace and past many groups of soldiers in elaborate uniforms (more elaborate than any I have seen) to the hall where the Pope finally appeared. We were all around a huge ellipse down on one knee. All women dressed in black, with veil over heads. The Pope passed down the line extending his hand so the person could kiss his ring. He was a rotund, sallow, bespectacled man. I pressed his hand to my chin.

Pope Pius XI, the Pope in 1932
Source:  Wikipedia

I also went to the Scala Santa (C) (holy stairs) in the Lateran complex. This is the co-cathedral of Rome. There are 28 marble steps worn badly and covered with wood. These supposedly were brought from the house of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem by St. Helena in 326. According to a notice the Pope grants a perpetual indulgence to souls in purgatory for one person crawling up the staircase on knees and saying a prayer on each and then in the chapel at the top. It was up these steps that Martin Luther is recorded as having decided to renounce Rome. He was then a Catholic monk.

Scala Santa
Source:  Roma Viva

Cloisters, The Lateran
(San Giovanni Laterno)
April, 1932

Also saw Colosseum (D), which has been considerably rebuilt as indicated by old paintings in art galleries which I saw, a little of the catacombs, the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli (H) with its striking statue by Michelangelo of the horned Moses, and the Capuchin Monastery where bones of dead monks are seen in basement clothed in their habits. They were dug out when the site of the monastery was moved.

Begun by Vespasian
Inaugurated by Titus, A. D. 80
With spectacles lasting 100 days during which more than 5,000 wile beasts were slain.
Elliptical three rows would seat 50,000 people.
March 1932

The Coliseum
Source: Pierced Hearts

Arch of Constantine & Colosseum (E)
March 1932

The horned Moses in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli
Source: Best Tourism

Roman Forum
Arch of Septimus Severus (F)
203 A.D.
Basilica Julia
February [probably meant March/April] 1932

Roman Forum
Arch of Titus in distance.  Temple of Antonius, Pius, and Faustina (G)
February [probably meant March/April] 1932

Roman Forum, Source: Wikipedia

I did see King Victor Emmanuel who was getting old, but never saw Mussolini, who was then in power. Trains were running more or less on time, but there were lots of poor people.
King Victor Emmanuel
Source: Wikipedia

I went to San Pietro’s on Easter Sunday, amidst several hundred thousands of people. You had to stand up inside the basilica. The big pipe organ sounded like a little tinny toy. I detected no spirituality.

Castel Sant' Angelo (I)
(Tomb of Hadrian)
Incorporated in City Walls.  Besieged many times.  Now a museum, largely of weapons.
April 1932

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.