After walking (and sweating) up more than three hundred steps up the stairs to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica and exploring the four-mile long Vatican Museum, the three girls took a well-earned afternoon siesta. During their nap, I ventured out on my own to explore a few of the one-thousand churches that Rome has to offer. My first stop was Santa Pudenziana, which is recognized as the oldest place of Christian worship in Rome. The small church, tucked away in a forgotten street in Rome features beautiful mosaic work that dates back to the end of the 4th Century.
The next church I stumbled upon was a gargantuan-sized church in the shape of a cross. As I walked closer and closer to the center of the church, sounds of an organ grew louder and louder. My initial assumption was that it was merely an organ music playing over an impressive speaker system, until I looked over and saw a wall filled with enormous organ pipes and a tiny man stroking the keys that were filling the church with sound.
The third and final church that I visited was the one that I had been looking forward to seeing most, and those who have read Angels and Demons (or who have seen the movie) will know why. It features one of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s most exquisite sculptures: The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. Bernini’s work depicts the moment in Saint Teresa’s autobiography where she describes a vivid vision of an angel piercing her heart with a golden shaft, which caused her both immense joy and pain. While the pictures I took of the statue hardly give it justice (a Google Image search of the statue give you a better sense of the work), after seeing the statue in person, I could without-a-doubt understand why this is regarded as one of the top masterpieces of the Renaissance. Not to mention, the church that housed this statue was pretty spectacular by itself.