During my free time here in Rome, I've spent a good part of the day visiting churches, rapt in works of art that museums in the US would long to have (see my earlier post today on St. Matthew).
A surprising number of the churches are pretty laid back about photography, as long as you don't use a flash. I was disappointed to find a "no photos" sign by the Caravaggios in Santa Maria del Popolo, but having to restrain my trigger finger kept my eyes trained on the art itself.
This visit, I was especially taken by the Crucifixion of St Peter. It was so vivid, I expected to hear grunts of exertion from the executioners who were struggling to raise the laden crucifix to an upright position.
|St Catherine of Siena (but not her |
head) lies in state in a marble
sarcophagus under the high altar.
Across the piazza from the Church of San Silvestro (John the Baptist's resting place), the Church of San Claudio was closed, so I missed out on the head of St. Peter Julian Eymard. But it was there last time I was in Rome.
I also visited a saint whose head was not in Rome, but in her native Siena. Despite the testimony of the marble sarcophagus which depicts an intact Catherine, the "sacra testa" of this Doctor of the Church was long ago claimed for the Siena Cathedral, where it awaits reunion with the rest of her body in the universal resurrection.
|Another (creepy) head; from|
Santa Maria sopra Minerva.
I continued on my random, self-guided pilgrimage and finally made it to the Gesu, the mother-church of the Jesuits and burial place of St. Ignatius. This Church has a famous relic of the arm of St. Francis Xavier, who had once written about how his arm had become almost paralyzed from weariness after thousands and thousands of baptisms. But in a side altar there was another relic in a golden box. In case one was to wonder what might be in it, there was a bas-relief of a muscular arm and hand. It contains the arm of St. Andrew. So I prayed there for our Sister Andrew.
I have one more free day (or at least morning) in Rome. What else will I find?