Friday, April 25, 2008

The Vatican~At Last

Although neither Jim or I were raised Catholic we have both always wanted to go to The Vatican. I can remember seeing the pope speaking to the audience from high atop the gigantic square ever since I was a kid and always wanting to see it someday. Our interest was further heightened by Dan Brown's novel Angels and Demons which is set in The Vatican. So we were excited and in no way disappointed with what we saw.

Dress Code for the Vatican
A picture is worth a thousand words!
About the only sign in Italy we understood!

Located within the city limits of Rome, Vatican City is actually its own country and the smallest country in the world. It is only .2 square miles in area. It packs a lot of clout for being so small and is the most famous of Christianity's sights. Vatican City is primarily composed of the immense square, the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. You can easily spend an entire day here and should allow that much time to see it. Arriving early is the best thing to avoid long lines and tons of people even in the off season.

The fountain on St. Peter's Square looking toward St. Peter's Basilica

The interior of St. Peter's Basilica is absolutely amazing. I was able to spend about an hour in the basilica while Jim climbed up into the dome for a commanding view from above.

See how small the people look?

This basilica is so immense and absolutely so opulent and gorgeous that one just simply must be there to realize the impact. Few times in my life have I felt small but this was definitely one of them! People watching in here is a real treat! It is definitely a place of pilgrimage for millions of Catholics. Legend has it that St. Peter was not only crucified upside down on this spot but his remains are buried here inside the church. To lend to the importance of each cathedral, basilica, or town a patron saint has been selected and the relics of that person's life adorn the spot. This is Peter's final resting place.

~The Cupola 0r Dome of St. Peter's Basilica~
The height of this dome is greater than the length of a football field!

As you can see it is a round..not a square after all.

It is a very popular and exciting thing to climb this dome and view the sights from atop Vatican City and Rome. Jim loved doing this while I enjoyed the basilica. This is what he saw.

This area also houses the Vatican Museum and the grand finale of that is the Sistine Chapel. It is hard to even begin to describe this beautiful chapel. Michelangelo 's first love was sculpting and he was hesitant to even consider painting a frescoed ceiling. Aren't we glad he was so willing to give it a try?

The Sistine Chapel

The place where a new Pope is elected by the Council of the Cardinals and Bishops after the death of a current Pope. They vote up to 4 times until a 2/3 majority is established and the winner is elected.

How do you take a picture of this when the entire room is the focal point? It is hard to get a photo that depicts it or shows the colors, etc. There are benches along the walls and we were able to be in here just looking at the frescoes for about 45 minutes.

A fresco is a combination of mini-sculpting and painting and is 3-dimensional. The pigment is mixed into the plaster. They were used instead of canvas to keep the soot from all the candles from ruining the paintings. The soot, however, did take its toll on the frescoes as well. The Sistine Chapel was recently restored and the colors are amazingly brilliant now. They use to clean the ceiling and walls with bread , water, and wine gone to vinegar. Kind of symbolic when you think about it, isn't it? The frescoes tell the story of God's plan of salvation for man.


I would have to say that for me, time spent in all areas of Vatican City, was the most intense. It was sensory overload in every sense of the word. Pictures and words are all but inadequate. You have to behold it with your own eyes to imagine the beauty, the majesty, the awe. For someone with a sensitivity to and extreme appreciation for interior, this was a totally exhausting, mind blower. No less than 3 days in Rome would be ideal. Just go! This is a very enriching life experience not to be missed if possible! Someday is too vague~make a plan!


Laura said...

How breathtaking and amazing. Thanks for sharing, this may be the closest some of us get to Italy anytime soon. It is so great to share in your trip. Thanks for the free vacation!

Bonnie said...

I hope you are not all getting sick of this. I have a few more post brewing and then on to other things! I think it will be fun to print the blog soon and have a nice record of what we saw and did. Thanks for your support and indulgences!

Bonnie said...

Missy wrote:

I have loved reading your blog! It's been great to hear of your thoughts and see the pictures of your trip. It must have been amazing! We're so bummed that we won't be able to make it down to Italy to see the Wadsworths while we'll be so close. Thanks for sharing!


Miss Jen said...

I love the dress code sign. So funny. Are those your photos or one you found on line? they are amazing!

Bonnie said...

Jen, these are actually internet photos but only because ours are still on Laura's computer. Dad says he has the same ones and I believe it, so eventually I will replace them with ours before I print the blog book. Some places they will not let you take photos and it is just as well as you cannot get a wide enough angle and also you don't want the crowds in them. I cannot remember but I think you could not take photos in the Sistine Chapel and even if you could you could not capture it with regular equipment. Part of it is they want you to buy their books with the photos in them, of course. Dad assures me his photos of the plaza, Dome and St. Peter's are identical to what you see.