Saturday, December 20, 2014

Rome: The Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore

After walking just over seven miles yesterday, we decided to give our feet a break, so today we stuck closer to home and visited the Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, about a third of a mile away from our hotel. We considered going elsewhere afterwards, but we hadn't known that there was a museum or archaeological site to explore, or that Bernini built a staircase within the Basilica. It's one of four major basilicas in Rome (the others being Saint Peter's, St. John Lateran, and St. Paul Outside-the-Walls); it's the oldest church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. and the largest church in Rome dedicated to her.

I wasn't able to get many good pictures within the Basilica; many of the lights were dimmed and using my camera's flash didn't lead to especially good pictures. It's a massive Basilica and I wish I had the photographic capabilities of doing it justice.

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

Inside, of course, it is just as massive a space. The ceiling was beautiful, and there were almost too many details to take in during a single visit. This is a view of the main aisle, looking back toward the main entrance, with my back to the Papal altar.

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

Various popes were also buried within the Basilica, including the no-longer-extant Pope Honorius III, Pope Nicholas IV, Pope Sixtus V, Pope Clement VIII, and Pope Clement IX:

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

Several of the chapels were closed off, but one or two of which one could enter. Beneath the altar was a confessio with a kneeling statue of Pope Pius IX. Beneath this, we saw St. Jerome (d. 420), Doctor of the Church and author of the Latin translation of the Bible, who is buried in the Bethlehem crypt, which was built to resemble the cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

The museum itself housed books and liturgical objects like cartegloria by Luigi Valadier, reliquaries by Pietro Gentili and Benedetto Cacciatore, monstrances by Vincenzo Belli and others, and an assortment of chalices. Various works of art and ancient scores were also on display, as were liturgical vestments of belonging to Pope St. Pius V (1566-1572), Pope Paul V (1605-1621), and Pope Urban VIII (1632-1644). The oldest-known nativity scene is housed in this museum. The first example of figurines for nativity scenes started in the late 13th century when Arnolfo di Cambio was commissioned to carve marble nativity figures for the first Rome Jubilee held in 1300.

From Rome & Vatican City (December 2014)

After poking around the museum, we went on a brief tour of the Basilica's excavated portions as well; although I would have liked a more in-depth tour, I think our tour guide's English was limited. We also were walked through the Hall of Popes (which included the liturgical vestments of one Pope Alexander VI, one of the Borgia Popes), and saw Bernini's staircase, which was the only staircase in the Basilica that connected each floor.

No comments:

Post a Comment