I travelled to Rome 3 years ago and I’ve never forgotten it. From the moment I arrived, I immersed myself totally in the Italian culture (my own heritage!). The capital city of Italy is definitely all it’s cracked up to be – it’s got romance, history, delicious food and interesting people. On one of my beautiful summer days there, I took myself to the Vatican city and walked through St Peter’s Square to visit the world famous St. Peter’s Basilica. Did you know that the difference between a cathedral and a Basilica is that a Basilica has the body of the saint housed within it?
To prove that this is the “world’s biggest church,” the nave is laid with gilded bronze markers to indicate the lengths of other cathedrals. The interior extends 615 feet, with 11 chapels and 45 altars.
After hours of exploring, I went to Saint Peter’s tomb. It lies under the Basilica and includes several graves and a structure said by Vatican authorities to have been built to memorialize the location of St. Peter’s grave. Seeing his tomb was incredible. I wished I was there in November last year when the actual remains of Peter (who was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus Christ) were put on display for the public. Discovered in the 1940s and never officially declared authentic, the bones were exhibited in his tomb. Peter, recognized as the first Pope in the Catholic faith, is traditionally believed to have been crucified upside down for his faith on that spot in 64 or 67 C.E., Religion News Service reports. The basilica lies in an enormous piazza (St Peter’s Square) framed by two long, curving colonnades — a design that symbolizes the arms of the Roman Catholic Church reaching out to embrace the faithful. How beautiful is that. The piazza can hold about 300,000 people, with room to spare! I had an amazing time touring around and taking as many photos as possible. During my time in Rome I also visited the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel. The Coloseeum was the largest amphitheatre of the Roman Empire, and is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering. It’s still the largest amphitheatre in the world. The Sistine Chapel is part of the Apostolic Palace – the official residence of the Pope in the Vatican City. Since 1480 when it was restored by Pope Sixtus IV, the chapel has served as a place of both religious and functionary papal activity. Today it’s the site of the Papal conclave, the process by which a new Pope is selected. I was breathless with the frescos that decorate the interior, and most particularly its ceiling and “The Last Judgment” by Michelangelo. Between 1508 and 1512, under the patronage of Pope Julius II, Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling. It’s a masterpiece without precedent that changed the course of Western art.