Roma Aeterna Part Six– The Colosseum

You've probably seen the movies--- Christians tortured and killed in the Roman Colosseum. Only, it never happened there.The Colosseum didn't exist in Nero's day when there really was persecution and prosecution and execution of Christians in Rome (and later during Domitian's paranoid reign as well). The Colosseum was built by the Flavians, in particular Titus. Here is the Wiki summary... which is correct."Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 70 AD, and was completed … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna– Part Five (the Wall Mosaics)

If your mental picture of the Romans is a bunch of conservative folks wearing white sheets and living in bland houses, you would be wrong. The Greco-Roman world of homes is awash with color--- on the walls, on the floors, on the columns, and not just any colors--- bright colors. They were especially fond of bright red and bright blue. But not just any painter could paint the house of the wealthy, if they wanted frescoes, paintings done while the wet plaster is drying (or else it will be on … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna– Part Four (the Frescoes and Mosaics in the Ruins)

The Romans were not dumb. They knew you needed lights to get around at night to go to the dinner parties (etc), and one of the things they did to facilitate this was put reflecting stones in their streets especially since the streets were not flat or paved. Here is an example...They also put this same material in their mosaic floors, so they would reflect light at night.(Notice the meander pattern on the right side... no that's not an early version of a swastika. The meander … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit– Part Eight (the Audience)

We were bussed to the back of the Vatican complex, entered by a small door, and then went up three flights of stairs. I, as I imagine all other first timers, had no idea what to expect from an audience with a Pope. Once on the third floor, we wove around through hallways, until we came to the one that led to the Salle Clementia--- the audience hall for the day. Here are the shots of the some hundred people who were invited to this audience.Once we were in the rather small room or salle, … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit– Part Seven

Without question, one of my favorites of the Italian classic period painters is Raphaelo-- and among all his works, my very favorite is The School of Athens, which hangs in the Vatican. On the way to the Sistine Chapel we went through the Raphael room... and here is what we saw. The ceiling in the hallway leading into the Raphael room is spectacular in its own right. Then you turn the corner and see something even more astounding.In case you don't know the story of this painting, … [Read more...]

Roma Aeterna– Part Three

If you are going to spend all day at Pompeii (and Herculaneum), you need a break now and again, and something cold to drink. So we stop at the instant fresh orange juice machine, and Yuliya made us some juice. We also stopped at the cameo shop as well. There is a large industry in and around Napoli, making beautiful cameos out of conch shells.But where would you go in antiquity to eat in Pompeii? Well there were food stands of sorts, soup counters really built into the front of … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit—Part Six

The Conference sponsored by the Ratzinger Foundation (i.e. Pope Benedict) was designed to focus on the historical Jesus, with more particular focus on Pope Benedict's three million selling books on Jesus of Nazareth (the last of which was on the Infancy Narratives in Lk. 1-2 and Mt. 1-2). Since I have already reviewed in detail these three books on this blog some time ago (the first book came out in 2005,but I reviewed them more recently), I will let you find and read those reviews. The reviews … [Read more...]

The Vatican Visit– Part Five (Tales from the Crypt)

One of the things we did in the afternoon before the gala dinner and tour of the Sistine Chapel was to visit the crypt where St. Peter is believed to have been buried. The entrance way to this underground grave yard or necropolis (which is largely an ancient pagan graveyard... but see my novel Roma Aeterna about the Christian parts of it) is on the outside of the far left side of St. Peter's near the high altar. Here are some shots of that side of St. Peter's (now nicely sandblasted) and the … [Read more...]

Bella Italia– Part Five (The Villa Borghese)

The largest park area in all of Rome has at its heart the famous Villa Borghese, which today is really the Galleria Borghese, home to lots and lots of art, including some famous Bernini statues. You take the Metro to the Piazza del Popolo, and then its the upward call of God for you... up the hill to the huge park, even bigger than Central Park in NY, which includes lots of mansions now turned into ristorantes and museums. It's quite the walk.Sometimes it seems every piazza has a stolen … [Read more...]