Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Many Faces of the Colosseum


In mid afternoon, the Colosseum is tinged in chalky white.


At sunset, the Colosseum is baked in shades of sienna. 


The exposed inner rim was pockmarked by medieval robbers in search of iron clamps.  


My favorite view of the Colosseum is from the Via Sacra where ancient columns provide a linear frame to the elliptical curve of the Colosseum's walls.


Past events in this ancient amphitheater are put to bed in the dark shadows of night. If only walls could talk, what a fright they would tell!

An excerpt from Lord Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, Canto the Fourth, (1818):
A Ruin — yet what Ruin! from its mass
Walls — palaces — half-cities, have been reared;
Yet oft the enormous skeleton ye pass,
And marvel where the spoil could have appeared.
Hath it indeed been plundered, or but cleared?
Alas! developed, opens the decay,
When the colossal fabric's form is neared:
It will not bear the brightness of the day,
Which streams too much on all — years — man — have reft away.

But when the rising moon begins to climb
Its topmost arch, and gently pauses there—
When the stars twinkle through the loops of Time,
And the low night-breeze waves along the air
The garland-forest, which the gray walls wear,
Like laurels on the bald first Caesar's head—
When the light shines serene but doth not glare—
Then in this magic circle raise the dead;—
Heroes have trod this spot — 'tis on their dust ye tread.

"While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand:
When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall;
And when Rome falls — the World." From our own land
Thus spake the pilgrims o'er this mighty wall
In Saxon times, which we are wont to call
Ancient; and thes
e three mortal things are still
On their foundations, and unaltered all—
Rome and her Ruin past Redemption's skill—
The World — the same wide den — of thieves, or what ye will.

For the full text of the Canto, here's the link:

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Images by Charie



Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Papal Audience with Pope Francis I

Pope Francis I - June 2013

One of our main reasons for visiting Rome was to see the new Pope. There are several ways to see the Vicar of Christ at the Vatican. Two of these are during the Sunday Angelus at noon and the Wednesday general audience at 10:30 a.m. both on St. Peter’s Square. Of the two, the best close-up view of the Pope would be at the Wednesday audience as the Pope circles the square in his popemobile before the hour-long acknowledgements and homily. On Sundays, when he is in residence, he blesses the crowd in attendance from the balcony above the entrance to the Basilica (predecessors of Pope Francis I blessed the faithful from the papal apartment window).

It is necessary to get tickets for the Wednesday audience but not for the Sunday Angelus. These tickets are free and may be requested from the Pontifical North American College or from the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome. Tickets are picked up the day before the audience or on Tuesdays from the location indicated on their respective websites. It’s best to make reservations as early as possible as there are thousands of pilgrims going to Rome, especially during the summer months. Follow the instructions given on their websites carefully.  To get tickets for the Wednesday general audience check below: 
The Pontifical North American College: http://www.pnac.org/visitorsoffice/audiences/

St. Peter's Square Wednesday General Audience, June 2013

Arrive early at St. Peter’s Square (Piazza San Pietro) if you wish to get a seat. We were there at 9 a.m. for the 10:30 a.m. Wednesday audience and all the seats were taken by then. It was standing room only for latecomers. The standing room only crowd was at least three-person deep from the cleared corridors where the popemobile makes its way around the square. We had been to see Pope John Paul II in October several years ago and that was a more pleasant experience with milder temperatures and less people. We had comfortable seats and were able to see him at a very close range without struggling with the crowd.

I must say that Pope Francis I was very accommodating. He came out early (around 9:45 a.m.) so he could greet the audience as he made his way around the square. He stopped often to acknowledge the pilgrims, especially the children.

The Pope's message on June 12, 2013 called on the audience to reflect on the “People of God”. The Pope asked the audience to contemplate on five questions:
  1. What does “People of God” mean?
  2. How does one become a member of this people?
  3. What is the law of the People of God?
  4. What is this people’s mission?
  5. What is the destination of this People?
The essence of the message is this: the Church is a welcoming, forgiving and loving place that is open to all who wish to enter and the People of God must bring the message of God’s hope and salvation to the world through these wide open doors.

Read more about his message here:

Lastly, there are restrooms inside Bernini’s colonnade to the left of the square if you’re facing the Basilica. This colonnade is also a refuge from the heat of the sun.

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Images by Charie