The Vatican: Buonarrotti & Bernini

Standing outside of it makes me think of that Tom Hanks movie (what’s it called??). It’s easy to marvel at the 284 Bernini columns and the 140 sculptures of his favorite saints that don the top.
Standing inside of it makes me think 1) Wow! 2) this was all pieced together by theft! How can they not acknowledge the irony! I can’t decide whether to appreciate the Vatican City for the simple sake that at least here people still acknowledge brokenness (sin) or just shake my head in disbelief at how crooked this arrow flew to miss the mark. Probably a bit of both.

Onto the art! Oh, my Buonarroti! Here his first commissioned piece stands protected behind bullet-proof glass because of some nut who went hacking at it in the 70s. His only signed piece (done to spite the one who teased him) was completed when he was 23. Sheesh. 23? Wow. La Pieta (pity) is worth staring at for many reasons I’ll spare you of here. Nick says I’m too artsy-fartsy.

Beside Buonarroti’s work, Bernini’s continues inside, particularly around the altar, as seen in the bronze twisted pillars, which are supposed to be replicas of the original St. Peter’s. I most like his personal touches that often go unnoticed, such as the face of the pregnant women at the base of the pillars. Bernini was told by the Pope to document the events happening during his work. So, since someone in the Barberini family (who funded the work and called for scavenging the Pantheon for raw material) was pregnant at the time, Bernini included the mother’s face on 3 and the born child on the fourth, along with the three bees, the symbol of the Barberini.

So…despite the fact that this church exists only because it robbed precious gold, marble and pieces of ancient temples and lands, and because of the hefty price it charged for penance and sacraments, at least it’s beautiful and remains today, if for nothing but the art. So grazie to fascist Mussolini for opening up the square to the public and grazie mille to the Popes of the centuries for procuring such a collection.


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