une fois encore
Incredible sights, from art to archaeology to early church history
Rome, then, embraced my initial pathways wandering on Italian soil in 2022. So much history is fixed here—events we all learned about (or should have) since grammar school. Romulus and Remus, Catullus, Cicero, Julius Caesar and adopted heir Augustus, first-bishop Peter, pre-Stradivarius Nero, a whole catalog of Popes, both famous and infamous.
Much of the history leaves its own mementos in the artifacts that are carefully tended and explained, often with a fun mixture of scholar's acuity and imaginative humor. For myself, there is always a conflict between sites with whole hordes of visitors, standing shoulder to shoulder with smartphones held aloft toward, say, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel ... between that scenario, as I say, and less-traveled paths through ruins with their own stories clutched between bricks held with Roman-invented mortar.
Very likely this will be brief, a couple of overnights to accommodate a tour of the museums in the Palatine/Forum area, and a Rome-at-night excursion.
And this ... I wanted to spend reflective time in the presence of some shadows of my centuries-ago spiritual siblings. Not to get a shiver or buzz walking past a stash of old monks' bones piled high, as in some Cappuchin-guarded ossuary, either. No, it's more just being
in the little rooms down there in the catacombs where those faithful to Jesus assembled, where they buried their dead and declared their certainty that even mighty (pre-Constantine) Rome did not have the final authority. Not on earth, certainly never in Heaven.
Here is a brief glimpse of long, winding tunnels carved many layers deep into the volcanic rock, far beneath the rolling and sunlit meadows above. It is estimated that half a million Christian believers were interred here, over the years since the mid-second century.
Even more moving than I'd imagined, I would do it again—probably San Sebastio this time. Maybe go on another eBike tour along the Appian Way. And this time not fall off even once.