27.8.12

The Vatican

This was not the first time, but the Vatican is certainly worth a second or a third visit.

What was known as the much larger Papal States seized to exist in 1870. It then took a few decades to establish the reduced temporal territories of the Papacy. The Vatican City State is the smallest state in the world with some 800 inhabitants. In its present form it was established in 1929.

It should be noted that the Vatican City is distinct from the Holy See, which is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, the Diocese of Rome, of which the Pope is the bishop and supreme Pontiff. The Diocese includes the City of Rome – with the Basilica of St. John Lateran, which is the official cathedral of the diocese … and the Vatican City with the Basilica of St. Peter, which thus is - only - one of four churches in Rome that hold the rank of "Major Basilica".

It’s however in the Vatican City where the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, has his residence, in the Apostolic Palace - most Popes have remained here since the return from Avignon in 1377 - and although not being the mother church of the Roman Catholic Church, nor the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome, the Basilica of St. Peter is of course considered as one of the holiest Catholic sites.

The present Basilica, which replaced a former one with beginnings from the 4th century, the old Constantinian basilica, was built between 1506 and 1626 with a number of successive plans with contributions of Bramante, Raphael  … and especially Michelangelo.

The St. Peter’s Piazza was created by Bernini between 1656 and 1667. In the middle stands an Egyptian obelisk from the 13th century BC, which was erected in Rome in 37 AD.  It’s referred to as “The Witness”, thought to have witnessed St. Peter’s crucifixion around 64 AD.




The Vatican “army” consists today of some 130 Swiss Guards. (The guards must be catholic, single males with Swiss citizenship…)

According to tradition, and some historical evidence, the main altar, the “baldacchino” by Bernini and the cupola (see also top picture) are just over the tomb of St. Peter – the first bishop of Rome - which can be visited underground, together with the tombs of a number of Popes and others. 

(The first time I saw Michealangelo's Pietà was at the New York's World Fair in 1965!)  
  

The Apostolic Palace contains the Papal Apartments, the Vatican Library… and the Vatican Museums where you can walk through a number of fresco decorated apartments and rooms and admire statues and paintings by Carvaggio, da Vinci, Fra Angelico…  and several by Raphael, including “The School of Athens” of which you can see a detail with da Vinci in the role of Plato…

… and a number of chapels, including the Sistine Chapel (photos not allowed), decorated by Botticelli… and of course especially known for the ceiling by Michelangelo.





Looking through the windows, you can also admire the Vatican Hill with some nice buildings and beautiful gardens.



20 comments:

Mystica said...

Thank you for a beautiful post. This is one place I have to visit.

Thérèse said...

Inestimables tous ces trésors!

Indrani said...

Grand pictures!
I was there a couple of years back, thanks for stirring up my memories. :)

Olivier said...

le dome est magnifique et j'aime cette lumiere qui rentre dans le vitacan..mais bon quand on a dieu comme responsable des lumieres cela doit aider ;))

Cezar and Léia said...

You prepared a wonderful post dear Peter. I remember I was there in 2001.
The first picture is breathtaking!
Léia

Ruth said...

Tremendous!

I had a very short visit here in 1975; had to catch a plane to Tel Aviv ...

My brothers were at that NY World's Fair in 1965. Perhaps you met! :-)

Mo said...

It is a very impressive building. When I see the sheer opulence I wonder why the church doesn't do more to help those in need.

hpy said...

RIen à dire, c'est beau.

Cergie said...

Eh ben, il me faudrait y aller pour une seconde visite, la première et dernière remontant à Paul VI. Ceci dit elle avait été très bien préparée par le chanoine Laurent pas mondialement connu mais notoriété d'Epinal qui nous a montré à l'avance les merveilles, notamment le jugement dernier.
J'espère que tu as été à l'office à la basilique ? Ensuite toutes les églises de France paraissent bien petites, notamment la basilique St Maurice d'Epinal.

Studio at the Farm said...

Glorious! Thank you so much, Peter.

arabesque said...

wow! what a splendid trip! ^0^
were you just there for a day trip or did you stay a few days in Rome also?
from the looks of it, the weather was fair and the sun was just about right,
the 1st foto is glorious indeed.
i recently watched the agony and ecstasy, and although an old film, it certainly, gave me a bit of its history,
and yes, the pieta was in n.y in '65,! ha! ^0^

ohma said...

Maravillous pictures, dear Peter, and not just that, even you told us the history.
I am very grateful to you.
Besos.

Owen said...

Can't help but wonder how much it cost to build and decorate such a fabulously ornate city within a city, if translated into today's monetary value... An amazing place in any case...

Virginia said...

I"ve always wanted to visit Rome for many reasons. Thank you for your beautiful photographs Peter. The Pietà, how wonderful to see it in person.
V

Anonymous said...

La Guardia Suiza...

Esta es la misma que fue masacrada en las Tullerias aquel aciago dia de Agosto 1792?

¡Un fantastico articulo como de costumbre!

¡Mil gracias!

claude said...

Visite incontournable quand on est en Italie, près de Rome.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

I have been only once and remember that after a few hours one gets "sensory overload" with the grandeur and beauty. How wonderful that your grandchildren have now seen this holy city.

Thank you for sharing the concise history. That is a treat indeed.

Bises,
Genie

Anonymous said...


I have been browsing online more than three hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.

lasiate said...

tout l'argent des fidèles n'a pas été dépensé en vain

This is Belgium said...

Unbelievable reportage.. totally awesome...
congratulations
I LOVE Rome and was there not so long ago.
I have the same problem, as my blog is about Belgium.. I have not posted my pictures.. but your collage is out of this world
anni