|St. Peter's Basilica, seen from one of the|
bridges crossing the river,
|One of dozens of large sculptures|
that line both sides of the bridges
that cross the Tevere River headed
into the Vatican area.
It was nightfall. Being unfamiliar with the city, we weren't sure what bus to take that might get us back into our neighborhood, Trastevere. (Tras = across, Trastevere = across the Tevere) At the far end of the street we could see the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. Sheila got very excited and said, "It doesn't look that far, let's just go see what it looks like outside". We were all tired and our feet hurt, but we decided to do it.
|A woman begging in front|
of an angel on the bridge.
|Statue of St. Peter in front of the Basilica.|
A choir was singing, music filled the air till is seemed angels flew over our heads. We gestured to the security men that we would like to join the mass and sat on folding chairs at the back. Everywhere, on every wall, covering every inch of floor, there was exhibited the pinnacle of human artistic endeavor, devoted entirely to the human ideal and idea of God. In the soft light, sculptures and paintings by Bernini, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rafael, and hundreds of others, the best artists of the last two thousand years, sat in niches and formed parts of the nave, the ceiling, the canopy and St. Peter's tomb in the center of the enormous room. High overhead the domes were painted with scenes, the woodwork gilded; they were works of art entirely unto themselves. I had never been inside such an intense concentration of the world's best talent, in any place so profoundly religious, reflecting the desire of human beings for more than this life can provide, the desire for an eternal existence.
It was beautiful and so powerful, it was overwhelming. Tears ran.