Tuesday, July 14, 2009
NUMBER 3 -- ST. PETER'S BASILICA
As the headquarters of Catholicism, St. Peter's is intended to overwhelm you with its size, splendor and majesty. Truthfully, Mrs. Trinca was not necessarily overwhelmed in a positive sense, but even with this negative vote weighing down on the decision, St. Pete's comes in near the top. First, the view of the dome from every hilltop of the city helps make Rome uniquely - well -- Roma. St. Peter's square -- despite the partial blockage of the dome -- is awe inspiring. The inside of the building itself is an odd combination of Grand Canyon and red wood forest. Kim developed a little kid fascination with the sun beams filtering in through the various windows and columns of the Basilica. The main dome is a lens into the heavens. It is hard to get a sense of its immensity until you realize there are people standing up their peering down -- ant size people.
What propels St. Pete's to the front is the art and Michelangelo's Pieta is the engine. It is sad that we have to see one of the greatest works displayed behind glass but such is the crazy world we live in. Like most great works, it leaves us with many questions: why is she so young and beautiful? why are the two figures out of portion to each other, considering the mathematical genius of Michelangelo. why isn't she gazing at his face, but instead his mid-section? How could a man in his early 20's be able to carve such perfection out of a single piece of stone? These questions add to its mystery, but let's face it, in the end we are just awed by its simple beauty.
Other mentions: the statue of St. Peter of the rubbed foot; Bernini's monument to Alexander VII (got to love his depiction of death lurking under the stone blanket); Raphael's transfiguration mosaic; the Baldacchino made from bronze taken from the Pantheon; and much more. Don't forget, however, in the midst of your tour book check list to just stand and admire how Michelangelo and others use light throughout the building. It is heavenly.