Wednesday, July 2, 2014

San Giovanni and the Sistine Chapel

Final Picture of me and Kippen.  San Giovanni Church
Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano - San Giovanni Church
San Giovanni Church
Before Kippen headed on down to Sicily, we visited San Giovanni Church.  It's a pretty important place here.  One might think that Rome's main cathedral would be St. Peter's, but guess what - it isn't.  The official church of Rome is none other than San Giovanni.  Yep.  Although the pope resides at the Vatican, they consider this place numero uno.

It was originally built in the 4th century by Constantine and rebuilt many times through the centuries.  In fact, the church's beautiful Baroque facade was completed by Alessandro Galilei in 1735.

But the things I loved most about it were the amazing statues of the Twelve Apostles inside.  Take a look at just some of them.
James the Less gripping a club
James holding a spear
Bartholomew holding his flayed skin
The apostles each hold items of what they are known for, and symbols of ways they were martyred.
Matthew, foot on tax money, holding his book
Peter and his keys

All statues were sculpted by different artists.

There is a great feeling of reverence around these figures.

Icing on the Cake
Our 5 Loaves and 2 Fish
Elder's cake: Gummy bear Moses parting the Sea
What is a party without cake?  And, since there's cake, why not make it scripture themed.  That's what we did for a Rome 6 ward get together.  My comp and I made 5 loaves and 2 fish (left).

Everyone's cake was great, but honorable mention goes to the Elder's cake of gummy bear Moses parting the Red Sea (right).

The cake party
was hilarious because the missionaries just wanted it to be comfortable fun, but the Relief Society was bent on competition and taking home a prize, so they went all-out with their amazing Temple cake.

When they won first place, it was icing on the cake for them (pun intended).  It was delicious too - cherry.

Since my camera had been giving me issues in sending photos, I am updating you on stuff that happened a couple weeks back.  Here was our visit to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum.

Vatican Museums
Outside Hall with Statues
Inside Hall with Statues
To see the Sistine Chapel one must stand in an hours-long line that takes you first through halls of artifacts and 3 stories of museums. Amazing stuff.

Vatican Museum is one of the world's largest museum complexes containing some 2,000 rooms that stretch for nearly 9 miles inside Vatican City.

In the little time Kippen and I had, it was impossible to see everything, so we took our time with a handful of rooms, and ran through the rest.  Behold the visual treasures.

Hall of Maps
Hall of Maps.  Amazing.
Map of Sardegna

Map of Sicily
Among the many old world maps were ones of Sardegna and Sicily.  My islands!

These maps are upside down because, according to ancient thinking, Rome was the center of the world.

Pinacoteca - Gallery
Ah, the art!  There was a gallery holding famous (and not so famous) paintings including ones by Raphael, DaVinci, Caravaggio etc.
The Entombment of Christ by Caravaggio 1603
Michael and the Angel by Guido Reni 1640

Caravaggio (left) would always paint farmers and people off the street as his models.

Transfiguration by Raphael 1520

One of my favorites by Raphael is his Transfiguration.  It is big and the colors are GORGEOUS (right).  This piece, interestingly enough, was unfinished at Raphael's death.

He died quite young, at the age of 37, but the body of work he left is enormous.

In fact, most of his paintings are here in the Vatican.  He was like the Pope's pet, and for 12 years and two popes he worked tirelessly.

So, the Vatican has entire frescoed rooms devoted to Raphael's work, one of the most famous being The School of Athens.

The School of Athens
Ecco mi qua!  I am at the School of Athens!
The School of Athens by Raphael 1511

The School of Athens is 1 of 4 huge frescoes by Raphael in the Vatican's Stanza della Signatura.  This piece represents the academic gathering of history's most brilliant mathematicians, philosophers, and scientists from classical antiquity.

Raphael was a contemporary of Bramante, Michelangelo, and DaVinci and added their faces (as well as his own) into the painting.  Michelangelo is the sad one in the middle on the floor.

Musings at the Museum
Apollo of Belvedere
7' marble Archer, minus his bow
Belvedere Torso
Fragment of marble statue found in Rome in 1400s

Fun Fact:  Michelangelo used the Belvedere Torso (upper right) as inspiration in painting some of the figures in the Sistine Chapel.

Laocoon (right) is one of the most famous statues in the world.  I remember it from my first year at BYU.

Laocoon was the Trojan priest who warned Troy of the wooden horse gifted to the city by the Greeks when he said, "Beware of Greeks bearing gifts!"  And, depending on whose version of the story you read, either Athena, Poseidon, or Apollo sent poisonous serpents to kill Laocoon and his two sons as punishment.

This particular statue is a copy of a famous Greek statue that no longer exists.

Fun Fact:  Most Greek statues did not survive through the centuries, so a lot of what we know about Greek sculpture is thanks to Romans and the copies they made.

The cup (left) is in the Paleo-Christian room.  It made me think of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade - the Holy Grail.

It looks like the cup of a Carpenter.  You must choose wisely!


Adam's hand (left)
The right hand of Zeus in the statue below inspired Michelangelo in painting Adam's hand in the Creation of Man in the Sistine Chapel.

After seeing amazing things from a span of 4500 years history, from ancient Egypt to Greece to Rome to Medieval and Renaissance and modern works of art, you finally reach the point of the journey - the Sistine Chapel.

Sistine Chapel
photo: wikimedia
First off, I was struck by how big the Sistine Chapel is.  Ya, I know, we've all been told how small it is, and because of that I was expecting really puny, but compared to what I was envisioning, it is big.

Once pilgrims are cattled inside, no one is allowed to take pictures nor talk aloud.  In fact, they have guards prowling the place and a dude on the loud speaker yelling, SILENCE!  NO PICTURES!  NO VIDEO! SILENZIO!  NIENTE PHOTO!  NIENTE VIDEO!  Pretty funny, but other than that, they keep the place quiet.

5 Sistine Chapel Fun Facts:  
Sistine Chapel Ceiling
1.  Size of the Sistine Chapel: 134ft long x 44ft wide mimics the dimensions of Solomon's Temple in the Old Testament.

2.  Sistine Chapel - Cappella Sistina in Italian - is named from the pope who restored it in 1477; Sixtus IV.  Sixtus in Italian is "Sisto".

3.  The pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the chapel in 1508 was Julius II, nephew of Sixtus IV.  The English word nepotism comes from the Italian "nipote" meaning "nephew" from the papal practice of favoring relations.  Most often popes' "nephews" were actually their sons.

4.  Michelangelo did not want this assignment.  He argued that he was a sculptor, not a painter.

5.  The original idea for the chapel was to paint 12 apostles, but Michelangelo demanded carte blanche in the artistic scheme.  He got it.  And the result was over 5,000 square feet of frescoes, taking 4 years to paint (1508-1512), depicting a vast assortment of stories from Old Testament history.

And, here I was seeing it for myself.  I couldn't believe I was standing in the very spot Michelangelo stood 500 years ago as he changed history with this incomparable masterpiece.  Speechless.
Vatican Museum exit staircase

Exiting the Vatican Museum, you encounter the famous spiral staircase. Very pretty.  The stairs start fairly shallow and become more normal toward the bottom.

Arrivederci Kippen
In getting Sorella Kippen off, we were almost late for her train.  Sticky traffic had us literally praying our way to the station.  After a screeching arrival, all missionaries bolted through, got baggage loaded, tickets in hand, and jumped on board.  30 seconds before the train left, I realized I hadn't given Kippen a hug goodbye, so I ran onto the train with a couple of members, grabbed her for a hug, turned and ran off.  Not 2 minutes after we got everyone on - the train left.  Wew, that was close.  That's when I realized that Kippen and I didn't get a departing picture together :( .

Sorella Udall
Ciao Sorella Udall
Then I welcomed Sorella Udall.  Let me introduce you.  She is super awesome - probably the best missionary I have met in terms of diligence, organization, finding, and sheer dedication to the work.  She is also very kind and warm with everyone.

Such an inspiration to work with, she sets expectations high and stays geared to achieving them.  And, guess what?  We are actually starting to see the beginnings of the fruit from this - even after 4 days.  We already have a new investigator and several others who show great potential.

Udall has such faith in people that anyone can and will accept the gospel that she talks to everyone.  I wish I could be more like that.
I didn't realize how low my expectations had fallen until her energy rejuvenated my work.

Expectations Raised
The Rome Temple is coming along slowly - a lot more slowly than anyone here would like.  It was announced in 2008, and some people thought it would be only a couple of years.  Instead it has been 6.
I think we all need to raise our expectations and work hard to see some miracles come to pass - not just here in Rome, but in all of Italy.

So I am working on trying to improve my personal study and prayer, and then I want to be better on talking with people too.

Our new investigator is Miriam, a referral by Sorella Sutton who met her at a bus stop.  But before we had the chance to call her, we ran into her.  It was on our way to visit a less active that we saw her at the elevator, and she instantly invited us to her house.  When the less active wasn't available, we went on over (just a couple floors down).  The first lesson on the Restoration interested her right off the bat.

Miriam is a great gal, has a shaved head on the sides with a mullet in the back, couple of piercings, a tattoo or two.  Sadly, her husband recently suffered a really bad heart attack, so she is occupied with helping him recover.  I really like her.  Very kind woman.  She says she lost her faith in God because of hard times, like her parents divorcing when she was young, but now she is open to reigniting her faith.

Marco Mercuri
The same day we met Miriam was the baptism of 18 year-old Marco Mercuri, the friend of Luca.  Luca baptized him.  His family, who are not members, attended the baptism and are curious to know more. They will be working with the anziani.  Yes!

Ministering Angels
Moulding in the Vatican Museum
The Work of the Lord IS Miracles
Sunday we had the most inspiring Sacrament meeting in Rome 6 ward.  It was WONDERFUL.  There was the confirmation of Marco and the homecoming talk of Elder Gillespie (bishop's son) who returned from his mission in Japan.  He doesn't speak Italian so his dad translated the whole talk ahead of time.

He talked about miracles and how the work of the Lord IS miracles, and how those miracles are accomplished by His servants - us.  Therefore, we should expect to be tools to bring this to pass.

I needed the reminder.

I was sitting next to the friend of a member, Violetta.  She is older, Romanian, and feels alone, but she was so touched by Sunday's meetings that when she was not moved to tears - she was beaming.  We are beginning to teach her this week.

The End is Near
I got my death papers (detailing the end of my mission).  DUN DUN DUN.  That means the end is near!  Which makes me want to work all the harder since my time is limited.  2 1/2 months.  That's crazy!

So, Sorella Udall and I plan to resuscitate new life into Rome, picking up the pace, and looking for miracles.

Speriamo Bene,
Sorella Ashley Nef

PS:  Happy Independence Day America

No comments:

Post a Comment