In the world’s smallest nation?

In the world’s smallest nation? June 3, 2024


Evening falls upon Vatican City
An aerial view at twilight of St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)
Michelangelos's God and Adam
The Creation of Adam  (A Wikimedia Commons public domain image of a detail from Michelangelo’s Sistine Ceiling in the Vatican)

As the late great Ray Bradbury once wrote, something wicked this way comes.

I have in mind Episode 5 Trailer | A Marvelous Work.

You’ve been warned.

Capella Sistina Michelangelo
Fresco of the Last Judgment, by Michelangelo, in the Sistine Chapel

(Wikimedia Commons public domain)

Today was principally devoted to the spectacular Musei Vaticani, the Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter’s Basilica.  Magnificent.  Probably my favorite of the very many wonderful aspects of Rome (apart now, of course, from Italy’s “Temple Square,” where we spent significant portions of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).

Our visit — led by a guide named Stefana, whom some of the group had hired (and very much enjoyed) on a previous time here — was more brief than our visits here have typically been, but I really enjoyed it, as I always do.  It was moving to me to see the tomb of St. John Paul II (whom I consider one of the great figures of modern history, and within twenty or so feet of whom I once stood during a meeting in Rome), as well as the tombs of Blessed John Paul I, St. Paul VI, and Pope Benedict XVI, all of whom have been major world personalities during my lifetime.  St. John XXIII, who reigned 1958-1963 and who presided over the Second Vatican Council, is the first pope whom I actually remember.  Seeing his embalmed body in an illuminated glass coffin on the main floor of St. Peter’s always strikes me as weird and macabre.  I definitely do not share the Catholic sensibility in such matters.

In the Piazza
In St. Peter’s Square, Vatican City, looking toward St. Peter’s Basilica
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)

I’m pleased to report that, as of about twenty-four hours ago, the streaming version of Saturday’s FAIR conference had received 415 views in Italian and 346 views in English.  (I assume that the figures may have increased since then.)  It seems that the conference was well worth doing.

I mentioned yesterday that Dr. Keith Erekson, of the Church’s historical department did a special question-and-answer session for young people after church.  It turns out that he stayed for roughly three additional hours after that, answering questions one-on-one.  He is quite pleased with how it all went.  I can’t imagine but that his efforts did a great deal of good.

Sailko's Bernini
Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s great Baldacchino, over the high altar (and, thus, directly over the traditional site of the tomb of the apostle Peter) in St. Peter’s Basilica, in Vatican City, is under restoration right now and, thus under wraps and invisible.  St. Peter’s and Vatican City — and, indeed, the center of Rome itself — are preparing themselves for 2025, which will be a papal “Jubilee Year.”  Millions of pilgrims will come to Rome next year, over and above the normal tourism.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image by “Sailko”)

Although, of course, it’s a relatively new city compared to the pharaonic ruins of Egypt — most human artifacts are pretty young when the comparison is to the pyramids of Giza or even the great temples of Karnak and Luxor — the depth of the history still manifest in Rome is amazing.  My wife and I traveled by metro today, and it struck me deeply that we were getting off the subway at a stop called Ottaviano (presumably named after Octavian, who is more familiar to most people as Caesar Augustus).  To reach Ottaviano, we zipped past places like the Fontana di Trevi and the Pantheon.  And then we walked over to the Vatican, and to St. Peter’s, which sits atop a very ancient Roman cemetery.  (I’m on public record as believing that the case for Peter the Apostle actually having been buried beneath where the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica now stands is a fairly good one.  See my Deseret News column “Why was Peter in Rome?”)

Michelangelo sculpted his beautiful “Madonna della Pietà” (or “La Pietà”)in 1498-1499, when he was just twenty-four years old. It resides in St. Peter’s Basilica, just past the entrance to the right when looking toward the high altar. Unfortunately, with all the construction and renovation that is currently underway to prepare for Jubilee Year 2025, it is currently hidden from sight because of its proximity to the “Holy Door” of the Jubilee.

I want to call your attention to an announcement from Eborn Books:  It concerns the massive and beautifully illustrated Interpreter Foundation book Science and Mormonism, Volume 1: Cosmos, Earth, and Man, which is usually priced at about sixty dollars ($60.00):

We are pricing this book, for Father’s Day, at 66% off; and cheap shipping!
The book weighs 5.5 pounds so it will cost us more to ship than we are charging you.
A great, large size, full color, book that discusses Mormonism and many different aspects of Science.
Published by Eborn Books and The Interpreter Foundation. ISBN: 9781890718411
Editors: David H. Bailey, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, John S. Lewis, Gregory L. Smith, and Michael R. Stark
Hardcover with dust jacket; still brand new in the plastic. This is an amazing book; and a super deal at $19.50 per copy!
Contains these articles:
  1. Preface by Daniel C. Peterson
  2. Introduction by David H. Bailey and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw
  3. Science vs Religion: Can This Marriage Be Saved? by David H. Bailey
  4. Twenty Questions about Science and Religion, by David H. Bailey
  5. Forging a Friendly Alliance Between Mormonism and Science, John W. Welch
  6. Science and Mormonism, Henry Eyring
  7. Answering the New Atheism and Seeking a Sure Knowledge of God, Amy L. Williams
  8. Science and Genesis: A Personal View, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw
  9. Frequently Asked Questions About Science and Genesis, Jeffrey M. Bradshaw
  10. The Scale of Creation in Space and Time, John S. Lewis
  11. Joseph Smith and Modern Cosmology, Ron Hellings
  12. The Outer Solar System: A Window to the Creative Breadth of Divinity, Jani Radebaugh
  13. From All Eternity to All Eternity: Deep Time and the Gospel, Bart J. Kowallis
  14. The Earth and Man, James E. Talmage
  15. Understanding Evolution: An LDS Scientific Perspective, Steven L. Peck
  16. The Theory of Evolution Is Compatible with Both Belief and Unbelief, David M. Belnap
  17. Who Is Adam? Trent D Stephens
  18. Life Sciences Panel: Emily Bates, R. Paul Evans, Steven L. Peck, Michael R. Stark, Trent D. Stephens
  19. LDS Statements on Evolution and the Origin of Man

Posted from Rome, Italy



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