Sunday, February 24, 2013

Brief thoughts, with pictures, of Rome

In most ways Rome felt less like a pilgrimage site for me than Assisi.

St. Peter’s felt more like a mall than a church, with hordes of people walking through and taking pictures of everything. I, being only a little less touristy, only took pictures of about half of what I saw.

St. Peter’s did not feel like a church, a place of prayer. Yet, there were moments, as when I gazed up and saw streams of light coming through the windows and did experience a sense of transcendence,

or when I saw, at a distance the statue of St. Peter whose foot is worn thin by the touch of pilgrims (though you can’t get near it now.)

While St. Peter’s is “busy” with lots of images and altars to distract, St. Paul’s outside the Walls struck me as beautiful in its sparseness, uncluttered.

St. Paul outside the Walls

But I really loved a few other small churches, including Santa Maria in Trastevere, where the mosaic shows a tender image of Jesus with his right arm around his mother Mary.

 I didn’t expect surprises but in the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva near the Pantheon I found the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena under the main altar.

Tomb of St. Catherine of Siena

 Another day I visited the small church of Madonna dei Monte. I had sought out the church because it houses the tomb of St. Benedict Joseph Labré, God’s bum. He lived as a homeless pilgrim in the streets of Rome but after his death was buried in this church.

Tomb of St. Benedict Joseph Labré

 I visited the four major basilicas (St. Peter, St. Paul outside the walls, St. John Lateran, and St. Mary Major), as well as many other churches, but I was moved in the church of San Bartolomeo on an island in the Tiber. I referred to this church in an earlier post, here, because what most struck me there was being surrounded again by the great cloud of witnesses, in this case martyrs of the twentieth century. 

Reliquary of Fr. Jerzy Popielusko, Polish priest

But a highlight was a visit to Subiaco. Look for a future post on my experience there.


Charles said...

Thanks for all the great photos, John. I have been following your pilgrimage with admiration and a twinge of envy.

John (Juan) Donaghy said...

Lots more photos of Rome at; of the Vatican at; and the Vatican museum at

Charles said...

Thanks! I posted the links at Mercury Rising.