Saturday was a very busy day in Rome. The first half of it was spent touring the Vatican. While I'm not going to spend the time right now to explain the numerous reasons why, it's safe to say I'm not Catholic. That being said I was very interested in seeing the Vatican, especially since it has had such a huge impact on history. I had mixed reactions. On one hand I was wowed by the sheer splender of the place. The architecture and paintings are stunning. On the other I was saddened. It seemed so spiritually empty. So many rituals but no passion. One of our group members went to take communion in St. Peter's. The Priest asked him if he was a Catholic. He responded with "I'm a devout follower of Jesus Christ." The Priest again asked him "But are you a Catholic." He responded with "I'm a Christian." "Then you may not take communion" and he walked away. Truly Sad.
Photo of St. Peter's taken from the square. St. Peter's was built partly as a statement of the counter-reformation.
If you look at the four yellow windows, apparently the Pope lives in the second one from the right. (At least I overheard a tour guide say that).
This is the Papal altar where the Pope gives mass. It is also the alledged burial site of Peter. Traditionally on June 29th (64 AD or 67 AD depending on your view), church history holds that both Paul and Peter were martyred. Peter was crucified upside down (alongside of his wife) at the Circus of Nero which was just outside of present day St. Peter’s. Excavations have found the bones of a 60ish year old man from the 1st century AD have been found under the altar but how can one know if they belong to Peter?
Embalmed bodies of past Popes (such as this one of Pope John XXIII of Vatican II fame) are found throughout St. Peter's for devout Catholics to pray to.
While walking through the Vatican museum I was disturbed to see many statues of various dieties such as this one of Artemis. Why would you have images of false gods in the Vatican?
This is a double edged sword found on a statue. I included this photo because this is the type of sword used to execute Paul.