The weather could only keep us from St. Peter’s Basilica for so long, and we made it this week. It was worth the wait.
We have stopped doing tours of the Basilica with professional guides and now utilize the expertise of novitiates, usually American, who are studying in Rome. The rationale makes sense: while professional guides are incredibly knowledgeable about the art, its relationship to past art, the architecture, the history, etc., it’s hard for them to bring the same sense of sacred space that someone immersed in the church can. Both of the novitiates we used this time were excellent, able to provide all the same information offered by previous guides but with the addition of the Catholic perspective.
I won’t have any pictures for this post, as I’m having trouble getting them from my phone, but as always I have thoughts:
- La Pieta . I wish everyone had the opportunity to bask in its glow.
- The bronze baldicchino by Bernini felt almost sinuous in its counter-reformation affirmations. I’ve not spent much time with it in the past (mostly because I do not get baldicchinos), but as a counter-argument to Protestant minimalism it feels stronger than much of the other work in the basilica.
- The climb to the cupola felt easier than usual, perhaps because it wasn’t a thousand degrees. The air up there always feels like it comes directly from the mountains…
- The Scavi tour was really cool as well. Our guide set the tour up as a narrative about the dig as it proceeded, and the stakes that all felt. He enjoyed the drama, and we were right there with him.
- The Roman way with their dead – building houses and breaking bread and wine with them – feels almost completely antithetical to our relationship with our ancestors in the States. Our cult of youth and ability to forget our history is sort of impressive in a frightening way.