10 April 2010

Rome, Italy - Day 2 Part 1

* Circus Maximus photo by Kristen Hoetzel
This would be our first official day in Rome and we would start our day out with a breakfast buffet at the hotel. I was really looking forward to the siteseeing for today. As we started our our drive we drove past the Circus Maximus where chariot once raced. 
* St. Peter's Basilica photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Mass service photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Pope photo by Kristen Hoetzel
We started out visiting St. Peter's Basilica located at the Vatican. Wow! It was amazing inside. Now I have to say that I'm impressed by European churches. I've been to several now and am never disappointed when comparing them to what we have in America. Mass was going on so we couldn't access the entire church. Some of the Popes have been preserved and are on display in the church. I did manage to get a picture of the confessionals before being told no. I hadn't realized that they actually had priests inside and that they weren't empty. Oops! I did manage to pick up a rosary from the Basilica, it seemed like a must-do thing. Being raised Catholic, how can you visit the Vatican and not get a rosary?

*Outside of Colosseum photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Inside of Colosseum photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Lower level of Colosseum photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Underground Colosseum photo by Kristen Hoetzel
From there we headed to the Colosseum. It is absolutely amazing to see what the Romans could and did build. It truly is astonishing how they could build such structures in a time when in America the Indians only had teepees. If you've seen the movie "Gladiator" you know all about what the Colosseum was used for. I found it to be interesting that the woman couldn't be inside the Colosseum. They were only to be able to view the event from the top of the building. Actually everyone had a specific seat they were assigned. You could only access certain areas depending on your pass. There is a platform to show you what used to be the floor and you can see all of the tunnels that were underneath where the machinery, performers and animals were kept. The performers being the prisoners sent to fight the Gladiators. Now the Colosseum used to have granite covering it but was removed and used for other building in Rome.
*St. Paul's photo by Kristen Hoetzel

*St. Paul's ceiling photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Inside St. Paul's photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Malachite alter photo by Kristen Hoetzel
After the morning excursion we took the afternoon optional that first paid visit to Basilica of St. Pauls. Everything you see that is gold, is and there is even an alter made of Malachite. Now this church has the Apostle buried there.
*Outside of the Catacombs photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Outside of the Catacombs photo by Kristen Hoetzel
*Outside of the Catacombs photo by Kristen Hoetzel
From there we traveled to the Catacombs where the early Christians (Catholics) would assemble to escape persecution. This is before Catholithism was widely accepted and had just been brought to the Romans. The ones we visited are one of the only ones that can be visited in Italy and other religions had them too. There are six Jewish ones that no one is allowed to enter. This has got to be one of the fascinating things you could see. It truly blows your mind away how these could be built underground the way they were at that period in time. You can't take pictures inside so I have no photos that I personally took. Only part of the Catacombs have been excavated due to safety and you can only visit parts of them. Due to people stealing the corpus that were buried down below they had to be removed. You can see in the walls were they used to be and by the size of the grave whether it was an adult, child or infant. 

One thing about Italy and much of Europe both Eastern and Western, when you refer to someone as Christian they think Catholic, nothing else. When they talk they will often say Christian instead of saying Catholic because in the early times there was no other Christian religion but Catholithism. At least this is something that I've experienced from traveling through several of the European countries and often non-Catholics ask questions, being confused by the term Christian instead of Catholic.

That's all for the day. I'll post about our evening excursions later.

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