Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Pre-History of St Peter's and A Stereo View of Rome

Chiesa: "Pilgrims at the Tomb of Peter. As in Ancient Rome," by Sandro Magister

Ten meters beneath the Vatican basilica, it is possible to walk the same path that led to the tomb of the apostle, among rows of Roman tombs that have emerged, intact, from the excavations. The latest restoration was presented just a few days ago. A marvel of art, history, faith (...)

Almost all of the 22 tombs of the necropolis are pagan, with traces of oriental cults. The only completely Christian one is that of the Iulii family. Its vault boasts a marvelous mosaic depicting Christ as the Sun, in the manner of Apollo, ascending to heaven on a chariot drawn by white horses, holding the earth in his left hand. On the walls are images of the Good Shepherd, of Jonah being swallowed by the sea monster, and of a fisherman throwing into the waves a hook that one fish is swallowing while another swims away, a symbol of the souls that accept or reject salvation.

The most astonishing thing about this necropolis is that it is almost intact. Just as it was shortly before Constantine had it buried. In walking through it, one retraces the steps of the citizens of ancient Rome, but also those of the pilgrims who have come to pray at the tomb of the apostle Peter. The prehistory of the basilica of Saint Peter is in its bricks, its marble, it statues, its lettering, in the decorations of this ancient road that leads (...) >>>

Picture material is hard to come by, but we did unearth an old photo of the Tomb of St Peter in a great collection for the historically inclined: early photographs of Rome from the 1850s onward in World Stereo Views: original stereo pictures from places all over the world. Some sites do not even exist anymore, for example the old town of Rotterdam which was flattened in World War II. Originals can be ordered ... highly recommended viewing!

1 comment:

daten retten said...

I know that the most astonishing thing about this necropolis is that it is almost intact and many people interested about this matter.