The Vatican: the highs and the lows

Highlights of St. Peter’s Basilica.

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1) The tilt of Mary’s head in Michelangelo’s Pieta, spoke volumes to me.  It told me the story of a young woman shell-shocked at this thing she is holding in her arms, this thing, this broken body, so stunned she can’t look it in the face, she can’t comprehend, just in shock.   Despite the crowds taking photos, despite her being behind an acrylic plexiglass, I found her hauntingly human.

2) The vastness of the space, vertically as well as horizontally, is other.

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I ran into this all over Rome.  HUGE sculptures.  HUGE spaces inside of dark churches.  It’s important to be dwarfed by space…it helps me imagine in new ways.IMG_9441

The Vatican City contain the largest collection of ancient art in the world.

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It is a treasure trove of historical artifacts, books, manuscripts, religious icons,  art and bones.  We saw the resting place of the unconfirmed bones of St. Peter in the crypt along with 91 popes’ remains.

3) Then we climbed up up up to the top of the dome (which Michelangelo designed, starting at a spry 71 years of age.) Our first view was looking down at the altar below.   IMG_9358

The inside of the dome was much closer to us up there.  IMG_9359Then, after more climbing, we were at the very top of the dome looking out over Rome.

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After awhile, we came down from the dome to wander around on the roof in the rain.  It was thrilling to be up with the sculptures of Jesus, the Apostles and the Saints that look down on St. Peter’s Square.

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We got to see the Vatican from many perspectives.  Going up to the top of St. Peter’s was something I never thought I could do.  There weren’t that many of us who braved the claustrophobic climb.  I will treasure it.

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