The multiple churches in Rome means there is a lot of them to see, I think only churches will keep you busy for more than 2 weeks. We have so far only gone into three, San Giovanni which is quite close to us, Scala Santa in the opposite street, and we came across the church of St Helena accidentally today.
San Giovanni we walk past almost every day on our way out and/or on our way in. The magnificence of the church inside is most definitely not reflected on the outside. St Helena is very much the same, except this church used to hold a lot of items from Christ’s crucifixion, like some of the thorns that was in his “crown”, one of the nails that went through his hands etc. Both these churches are magnificent, pillars that seem to go on forever, paintings in the walls that depict various different scenes. The roof is either painted or has lots of carvings in them. In St Helena, one section of the church had the whole roof covered in a scene that was “painted” all by tiny blocks of tiles, similar to the ones we saw at the Baths that was used on the floor. These tiles are not even 1cm x 1cm, and the whole roof was approximately 55m2 big. Amazing!
Something that has caught both our eyes, in both churches and some of the carvings outside buildings, is that there are symbols and images that aren’t always in place. In St Helena we saw two “angels”, except their faces were sculls. In San Giovanni we saw an image of a half woman, half eagle, but she looked more like something from the devil than from heaven. On some of the statues outside are Egyptian symbols.
Scala Santa was another amazing experience – read Leon’s piece on “Faith like potatoes”. The only words that could come out of my mouth when I read that you can only reach the top of the stairs if you climb on your knees, was “no way!”. I mean, the one lady was probably my gran’s age, which by the way cannot walk without her walking frame. She was climbing these stairs one by one on her knees, praying on each step before progressing to the next one. You must really believe in something very strongly to put yourself through this type of punishment.
I don’t believe in religion as such. I do believe that there is a type of “universe” that connects us all and if we know how to ask of it we will receive. I don’t know if I truly believe in a God, or a hell, but one thing I can say for sure. Each time I enter one of these churches, I get the incredible urge in me to pray. I think it is just so magnificent and overpowering, that I can’t help but feeling different. I have an incredible respect for these churches, for the people who commit their lives to these churches, and for the people who have faith as strong as these people do. Then again, if I went to church every day since I can remember in a building this magnificent, maybe it would be easier to believe in what my parents and forefathers believed in.