It may seem strange that I have been living – and therefore blogging – in Rome for two months now and have only blogged one picture from inside Saint Peter’s. This is not to say that I don’t often go the Cathedral. I pop in about once a week (got to take advantage of that Jubilee of Mercy), usually on a weekday evening. I get there an hour before closing, as the sun is setting and the tourists are walking south to Trastevere to soak in the nightlife and the gypsies move further into the city to hock souvenirs in Piazza di Spagna and Piazza di Trevi. Twilight is the magic hour if you want to get into the Vatican without the horrendous line and the obnoxious street vendors.
Selfie for proof.
And so without further ado, let’s take a brief stroll through the Saint Pete’s.
First off is the obligatory Pieta.
This is the closest I could possibly get and the crowd moves fast, so forgive the zoom or lack thereof. But let us instead reflect on this masterpiece. On one hand, its religious significance is plain to see. We see the Madonna and Christ as plainly human, one dead and one broken, grieving with loss like any of us poor schmucks. Wrinkled cloth, twisted bodies, the whole nine yards. But from an artistic standpoint, it’s astounding. To make marble ripple like flesh and cloth is mastercraft, and Michelangelo’s greatest work shows his greatness.
Less famous is the bronze statue of Saint Peter himself.
Notice the feet of the Saint, and how smooth they are. This is because the detail has been literally rubbed off. You see, it is good luck to rub the foot of this bronze statue and, over time, pilgrims and tourists have slowly rubbed and rusted the toes together. In a few hundred more years, we may be looking at a stub of a Saint – a stubbed toe, if you will.
Here we see the main alter of the cathedral, and the splendid stonework that surrounds it. And when I say stonework, I remind you all that there are no paintings in Saint Peter’s, only mosaic and stonework. Every color you see was meticulously carved and aligned by hand.
And speaking of meticulous work, let’s talk about the Popes.
I finish my post with a list of every Pope interned in the Vatican. May it remain unfinished until the End of Days. Peruse it and you will notice the gaps and the novelties. That few century long gap during the fall of Rome? That’s when Christians were persecuted. The abrupt ending with Saint John Paul II? That’s because Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is still alive and kicking. I hear he’s taken up writing in his retirement. But when all is said and done, this is what it’s about; the big church down the street and the people who have run it for millennia.
Nicholas Guarracino '18