When visitors enter the Sistine Chapel, they naturally focus on Michelangelo’s ceiling, and with good reason. But that means the fabulous frescos on the side walls tend to get ignored. Continue reading →
In the 1800’s, an Italian scholar amassed quite an impressive collection of antiquities, not only from Rome but from other ancient civilizations farther east. He probably never imagined in a million years that in a century to come, extremists would destroy many of the artifacts he didn’t manage to bring to Rome–and brutally murder at least one eminent archaeologist who vainly tried to protect and preserve them. Continue reading →
June is the month that is traditionally dedicated to devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, so maybe it’s a good time for us all to pause and be collectively appalled at the theft of a painting of the Sacred Heart from a famous church in the center of Rome. Continue reading →
Classical-music lovers are all familiar with the oratorio, a musical presentation that is partly a concert, and partly an operatic performance. Few people realize, however, that this genre had its origins here in Rome, among the Priests of the Oratory (a.k.a. Oratorians). Their founder, St. Philip Neri, popularized the practice of combining the reading of spiritual texts with musical performances, as a means of evangelizing the people of Rome in the 1500’s. Continue reading →
Saint Augustine (354-430) was once walking down the beach in his native northern Africa, contemplating the difficulties inherent in understanding the mystery of the Trinity. How could three Persons be one God? Continue reading →
It’s hard to find a saint who’s “bigger” than Saint Jerome (347-420). Jerome isn’t merely a Doctor of the Church; he’s considered one of the Four Latin Fathers of the Church as well. (By the way, who are the other three? We can tell you…) Not only was Jerome a fantastic scriptural scholar who wrote prolifically, but he was also a monk who took very seriously the concepts of poverty, chastity, and obedience–and didn’t hesitate to call out those lukewarm monks who didn’t.
Jerome is best known for his Latin translation of the entire Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Known as the Vulgate, it is still the “official” text of the Bible that the Church uses today. Jerome spent long years working on this project in a cave in Bethlehem, living the ascetic life of a monk. He did his translating on his knees, convinced that any task that involved the Word of God was holy.
In the center of the shopping-district of Rome stands a church that most tourists ignore. After all, they’re wandering that part of the city because they’re looking for bargains, not because they’re looking for a miracle. But back in the year 1256, that’s exactly what the locals got. Continue reading →
As everybody knows, there’s some first-rate art here in Rome. Some is located in the churches for which it was originally created, and the rest is found in the many museums located all over the city. As scholars, we tend to know where the art that’s worth seeing can be found.
That’s why this sign gave us pause. It hangs in a parish church which in centuries past was established for the people of Florence, which was a different nation at the time. What “works of Michelangelo and Bernini” have they got in there, and why don’t we know about them? Continue reading →
Visitors to Rome know very well that the city streets are filled with images of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They can be found on the walls of private homes, apartment houses, embassies, restaurants, you name it! Continue reading →
Once upon a time, hundreds of years ago, some little Roman boys were playing ball in the street, like boys all over the world in every era. Over their heads was this nondescript fresco of the Madonna and Child, plastered onto the side of an apartment house. Continue reading →
When you think about the Elizabethan persecution of Catholics, you don’t tend to think of Rome. But in fact many of the Catholic priests who were martyred during the reigns of Elizabeth and her successor James were educated right here in the Eternal City–and these days a special exhibition includes rarely seen documents and other artifacts from the period. Continue reading →
In the very center of Rome, there’s a surprisingly ugly church at the top of an endless flight of stairs. (Btw there’s actually a back entrance, which doesn’t requiring much of a climb–and we know exactly where it is.) Few tourists have any indication that the history of this church goes all the way back to the very beginnings of ancient Rome. Continue reading →
Happy feast-day of Saint Pius V! If you’re not familiar with this great man’s many achievements, you’re in for a surprise. Pius V reigned in the late 1500’s, when the Reformation had already ripped the Church into shreds–and on top of that, he single-handedly saved the Western World from muslim domination. Pretty good for a simple Dominican, wouldn’t you say?
It’s easy to imagine the proud parents of this adorable little boy–particularly his doting mother, who was convinced for much of her son’s life that he was the gods’ gift to Rome. As can be seen from the child’s portrait-bust, the wealthy Gnaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus and his wife Agrippina had produced a real cherub! But no parents really know how their children are going to turn out, do they? Continue reading →
In one of Rome’s major basilicas is a side chapel containing this tomb. Most tourists walk right past it without a glance; a few look inside inquiringly, but can’t figure out what it’s all about, so they move on. Continue reading →
In one particularly confusing museum here in Rome, tourists can always be seen wandering around aimlessly, unsure of which displays to really focus on… and they invariably miss THIS extraordinary treasure. Continue reading →
In Rome, it happens often that you walk down a seemingly uninteresting street, and don’t pay attention to the details. But this random residential area in the center of the city contains a couple of surprises!
Happy Easter! Today we celebrate the fact that God can always, always do the impossible, and turn what appears to be a total disaster into a fabulous success! Never doubt that God is in full control, and knows exactly what He is doing… even when we don’t. Continue reading →
St. John the Evangelist, who was present at Christ’s Crucifixion between the two thieves, described what happened to Our Lord’s body after His death:
“Since it was the day of Preparation, in order to prevent the bodies from remaining on the cross on the sabbath (for that sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Continue reading →
Holy Week began with yesterday’s Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Complicating things for visitors was the fact that daylight saving’s time began in Italy on the same day–and if they were unaware of that, they arrived an hour late!
In a church along one of Rome’s busiest shopping streets is a side chapel containing this 14th-century crucifix. Few tourists would even bother to venture in; those who do, almost certainly give it only a passing glance.