This is Saint Peter’s Basilica as evening approached, right after a storm, on a winter’s day.
Vatican City sits on the western perimeter of Rome along the Tiber River. Walking down the street to St. Peter’s Basilica is a step back in time. As the Basilica looms larger, you move back into the Renaissance.
One time when we went there it was a Jubilee year. That’s when they open the golden door on the right side of the front façade. Grams was so overwhelmed, we had to wait for her to go in and out and come in again, and again.
The Pieta by Michelangelo is on the right when you enter. The tragedy of the young mother holding her slain son was captured so evocatively by Michelangelo. Mary was probably no older than her mid-40s when Jesus was crucified. Your heart goes out to her. Somehow, Michelangelo was able to tap into a well of sorrow that can only a parent who has to bury a child would know.
Walking through the Basilica you can see the works of many of the greatest artists of the Renaissance. The size of the Basilica is overwhelming. Any of the alcoves can, at any moment, be holding a Mass of a hundred of the faithful. The incredible centerpiece of all this glorious art is the Baldacchino by Bernini. It is the altar that is reserved for the Pope alone and is a baroque masterpiece. Words cannot describe it.
Beneath the Baldacchino and to the right, in the floor, you will see gratings that look down to an area beneath the Basilica. That is where the grottos and the tomb of St. Peter are located. We’ve never been able to go down there. Grams keeps hoping.
What’s that secret? There are no paintings in St. Peter’s. As you walk through the Basilica, there are beautiful ‘paintings’ on the walls. The secret is that they are actually mosaics. The tiles are so minute that you’d swear that they’re paintings. Look real close and you’ll start to see what I mean.
Please give what you can to Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders).