Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quo Vadis: Church and Novel

This past weekend I stopped to see a small church on the Via Appia Antica known as Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis. (In Italian it is named Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Piante, or in Latin Sanctae Maria in Palmis.) It is located on the spot where legend says Saint Peter had a vision of the risen Christ while fleeing persecution in Rome.
According to the tradition, Peter asked Jesus: "Domine, quo vadis? - Lord, where are you going?" And Jesus answered: "Eo Romam iterum crucifigi - I go to Rome to be crucified anew."
This convinced Peter to turn around and face martyrdom in Rome. The church markes the legendary spot where this meeting of St. Peter and Jesus took place.The first church on this site was built in the 9th century. The present building dates from the 17th century. The limited decoration and ornamentation inside is an interesting mix of items and styles. In the center of the floor is a marble slab with two footprints (being a copy of the original that is now preserved in the Basilica of San Sebastiano down the road) that people believe were a miraculous sign left by Jesus when he met Peter.

When your eyes look to the left, there is a modern column with a bust of Henryk Sienkiewicz, the Polish author of the historical fiction novel Quo Vadis: A Narrative of the Time of Nero. It is said that Sienkiewicz was inspired to write his novel while sitting in this church. A painting of St. Peter seems to be looking at the author. (Quo Vadis has been made into a movie several times. The first was in 1951 and the most recent film version was in 2001.)
Above the altar is a sensitive fresco of the Madonna.

To the left of the altar is a painting of Peter's crucifixion.
On the right near the altar is a strange devotional case
set in the wall with a statue collection and plastic flowers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Santo Volto di Gesù

The first modern church I visited in Rome was Chiesa Santo Volto di Gesù. I was there two weeks after the dedication in April, 2006. It remains one of my favorite modern churchs in the Eternal City.From the outside, the building is dominated by a half-dome that rises from a plaza several steps above street level.

The front doors bring the visitor into the side of the main liturgical space or directly into the Chapel of the Eucharist. On the inside the two spaces are connected by a glass wall with glass doors.
A large clear glass window behind the altar gives a shielded view of the surrounding neighborhood through panes that seem to represent the radiating presence of God. The passing of the sun provides an ever changing pattern of shadows on the interior of the church.

The pews are an interesting design.

The Stations of the Cross were designed my Mimmo Palidino.

The Chapel of the Eurcharist has a very intense blue wall with an antique crucifix.

The tabernacle, containing the Eucharistic presence of Christ, is a golden sphere -- maybe referring to the circular part of the altar window.

Spheres and circles are also part of a mural on the back wall of the main assembly space.

Adjacent to the church is a parish house with many interesting design features.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Walk in Rome

A sunny Sunday afternoon is a great time to walk around the city of Rome and observe some of the many fascinating architectural details. Here is a sample of what I saw today.


Pentecost is a feast in the Church that recalls the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. This painting of the Holy Spirit is above the main altar at Caravita, the Oratorio in Rome near the Pantheon where we attend an English language Eucharist on Sundays.

Many years ago in New York City, the Reverend Aldo J. Tos encouraged parishioners to wear red to church on Pentecost.
We were among maybe a dozen people
who wore red this morning at Caravita.

After the service, we enjoyed playing in the light rays that were descending from the cupola of the church.

Dinner in a Castle

This week we went to the Ambrit Rome International School Spring Dinner & Auction at Castello Odescalchi di Bracciano, about an hour north of Rome. (The Odescalchi family has students in the school.) The castle dates from the second half of the 15th century,

I guess I was too busy talking and eating to take pictures of the beatiful interior. I got this photo of the interior courtyard before we left.
PS: The was the castle where Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes had their wedding in 2006.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Race for the Cure

On Sunday, May 16th, we participated in Rome's 11th annual Race for the Cure. The course is a beautiful journey through Rome, passing sites that are ancient, medieval, and modern. (You can see pictures of the course that I posted last year. CLICK HERE.)
This is Vincenzo "checking in"
with the Baths of Caracalla in the background.
The green number indicates a competitive runner.
The white number is for a walker.
This is Vincenzo in the red shirt approaching the finish line. He completed the 5 km course in 20 minutes, 56 seconds.
These are friends we met at the race.

Museum Musicians

I encountered these wonderful ancient musicians on my visit to the Vatican Museums this month.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

ROSETO - Rome Rose Garden

On Sunday we enjoyed a walk through Rome's Municipal Rose Garden (Roseto Comunale di Roma) on the eastern slope of the Aventine Hill, overlooking the Circus Maximus. It was built on the site of an old Jewish Cemetery after the graves were moved to Rome’s main cemetery near the Basilica of San Lorenzo.
The rose garden is split into two sections: the upper one shows the permanent collection of the many varieties of roses, arranged in a chronological plan. The lower part of the garden displays the different roses taking part in PREMIO ROMA, the annual competition among international rose growers.
The garden preserves the memory of the old cemetery with pathways in the upper section in the shape of a menorah, and a pillar with a plaque depicting the Ten Commandments by each of the two entrances.Rome’s first Rose Garden was started by Mary Gayley Senni from Pennsylvania. With her own plants, and the support of the city’s fascist government, she opened a rose garden in 1932 next to the Colosseum. A year later, the first PREMIO ROMA was held.
The garden is a wonderful place for young and old to take pictures.

This mosaic in the walkway is a reminder
that the original rose garden was near the Colosseum.
The garden is also an environment
that can encourage romantic activity.

You can enjoy more than 1,000 different roses from over 20 countries.