Sunday, 19 August 2012

swimming across the Tiber

View from the balcony, Apostolic Palace, the Vatican
Drookit student, balcony of Apostolic Palace, Vatican

And so I am back from a whirlwind trip to Rome.  It shall take some time to process, and the sheer number of sights and sounds have left me somewhat stunned into silence.

Some brief thoughts:
The sheer scale...
of buildings was dizzying - from the Colosseum, the Victor Emmanuel monument, St Paul's outside the walls, St John Lateran Basilica, and St Peter's - humans reduced to tiny ants scrabbling around their foundations.  Within the Vatican, the uncountable number of paintings and frescoes, statues and tapestries, gold, marble, and lapus lazuli, was almost impossible to comprehend.  Rooms filled with Raphaels and Michaelangelos, long corridors of maps drawn up in the 1580's.... The scale of history down through the ages as names popped out from long-forgotten - and currently opened on the desk - history books. 

The warmth... beyond the heat and humidity of the August sun beating down upon us, the warmth of hospitality of the folk at the Irish College where we stayed, and the delightful humour and wisdom of the rector, Father Ciaran. The cheerful enthusiasm of Monsignor Leo happily showing us around behind the scenes at the Vatican as we dripped on his marble floors on Monday evening, after being utterly drenched in a sudden storm.

Surreal and special moments...

Last Judgement, Sistine Chapel
standing quietly dripping from the rainfall, watching the play of late afternoon/ early evening light upon the frescoes in a hushed and empty Sistine Chapel, the Monsignor telling us the story of its creation...a complete privilege and a rare treat.

Catacomb communion
a wee while later, standing on the upper balcony of the Apostolic Palace, looking across to the roof-top statues of St Peter's Basilica, grinning with sheer joy in the midst of a sun-shower and wringing out my sodden shirt...

a couple of days on, walking along the via Appia Antica to the catacombs and then all of us having communion in the chapel in the catacomb of San Sebastian...

Still processing, but by golly, it was really rather marvellous... :)


Stratoz said...

Splendid adventure

Mrs Gerbil said...

Looks like a fabbie time was had by all.

liz said...

Well, if this is you speechless! LOL
Look forward to reading the next instalment.