Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Breathtaking Beauty of Vatican City

Leaving St. Peter's Basilica mass on 11 January, this is the view that greeted us...
Many people gasped "La Luna!!" Including us, but not in Italian. A full moon hovering over the Vatican Christmas tree, covered like a blanket with gold and silver ornaments and my favorite color combination, blue and green lights. The star on top of the tree literally pulsed. Below the tree was an elaborate life size nativity scene. We had no idea, going to Italy in the second week of January, that Christmas season would still be in full swing. Every city we visited was festooned with simple twinkling lights, nativity scenes and everywhere, the image of Mary cradling Jesus.

Inside St. Peter's Basilica, below, was another elaborate nativity scene, too big to encompass one Nikon lens, even moved far back as possible. The centerpiece was this lovely baby Jesus.

Vatican City with St. Peter's Basilica dome in background at night 11 January.

A small portion of the nativity scene (the left side, not pictured, had a mill with running water..) inside St. Peter's Basilica 11 January

At Vatican Museum, we saw many wondrous sites. Naturally the Sistine Chapel was the main attraction and many people blew by these incredible works of art to get there. For those who ran to the Sistine Chapel, they missed rooms right adjacent to it that housed these treasures. Below, a beautiful sculpture by Henri Matisse.

Salvadore Dali's rendition of Christ. I was mesmerized by this painting. It literally glowed.

Papal wallpaper, painted by Raphael.

My husband laid on his back to get this shot of the ceiling in one former papal apartment room. Painted (yes, this is all paint, nothing else!) by Raphael, it depicts the triumph of Christianity over paganism, as seen by the column of pagan statue lain crumbled on the floor and the passion of Christ above. Absolutely amazing. I can't tell you how many times we both looked at something in awe and said, how did they do that, let alone how did they do that five hundred years ago??
Everywhere at Vatican Museum, one walks and looks side to side and above at lovely works of art. However, as we meandered along the four miles of museum , we failed to notice until we saw a specific sign pointing out that all along we had been walking on mosaic tile dating to the first century AD, as seen below. There was no gum on it, or cigarette butts..

Hall of Tapestries. I particularly liked this one, showing Christ emerging from his tomb. The guidebook pointed out quite correctly that the eyes, feet and stone under His feet follows you when walking past this enormous tapestry. Quite haunting.

View from of St. Peter's Basilica from window of Vatican Museum.

Egyptian papyrus.

Mummy of a woman.

Baskets and sandals, grain and bread, four thousand years old...

The Stumpf's at Vatican City Museum 12 January


Swestie said...

Wonderful photos! And thank you for the post card!!

LLYYNN said...

Welcome back, looks like you had a fantastic trip, did your journal fill all up? show us...

Theresa said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful trip!!!! Thanks for sharing the photos with us~