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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

The Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Italian: Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore, Latin: Basilica Sanctae Mariae Maioris), known also by other names, is the largest Roman Catholic Marian church in Rome, Italy. There are other churches in Rome dedicated to Mary, such as Santa Maria in Trastevere, Santa Maria in Aracoeli, Santa Maria sopra Minerva, but the greater size of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major justifies the adjective by which it is distinguished from the other 25.

Piazza dell'Esquilino with the apse area of Santa Maria Maggiore

According to the 1929 Lateran Treaty, the basilica, located in Italian territory, is owned by the Holy See and enjoys extraterritorial status similar to that of foreign embassies. The building is patrolled internally by police agents of Vatican City State, not by Italian police.

Interior of the basilica

Borghese Chapel and Salus Populi Romani
The column in the Piazza Santa Maria Maggiore celebrates the famous icon of the Virgin Mary now enshrined in the Borghese Chapel of the Basilica. It is known as Salus Populi Romani, or Health of the Roman People or Salvation of the Roman People, due to a miracle in which the icon helped keep plague from the city. The icon is at least a thousand years old, and according to a tradition was painted from life by St Luke the Evangelist using the wooden table of the Holy Family in Nazareth.


Reliquary of the Holy Crib

The Salus Populi Romani has been a favourite of several popes and acted as a key Mariological symbol. Roman-born Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) celebrated his first Holy Mass there on 1 April 1899. In 1953, the icon was carried through Rome to initiate the first Marian year in Church history. In 1954, the icon was crowned by Pope Pius XII as he introduced a new Marian feast Queenship of Mary. Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI all honoured the Salus Populi Romani with personal visits and liturgical celebrations.

Altar of Sistine Chapel and Oratory of the Nativity

Papal basilica
As a papal basilica, Santa Maria Maggiore is often used by the pope. Most notably, the pope presides over the annual Feast of the Assumption of Mary, celebrated on 15 August each year at the basilica. The canopied high altar is used by the pope alone — except for a few priests including the archpriest.

The Borghese Chapel

The pope gives charge of the basilica to an archpriest, usually an archbishop, who has been made cardinal. Formerly, the archpriest was the titular Latin Patriarch of Antioch, a title abolished in 1964. Since 21 November 2014, the current archpriest is Santos Abril y Castelló.

In addition to the archpriest and his assistant priests, a chapter of canons is resident. Redemptorist and Dominican priests serve the church, hearing confessions, celebrating the Eucharist and other sacraments such as baptism and matrimony.

The King of Spain, currently Juan Carlos I, is ex officio the "first honorary canon" of the basilica.









AN Italy

Colosseum

The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre (Latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium, Italian Anfiteatro Flavio or Colosseo), is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.

Interior of the Colosseum

Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started in 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign (81–96). The name "Amphitheatrum Flavium" derives from both Vespasian's and Titus's family name (Flavius, from the gens Flavia).

Today, the Colosseum is a background to the busy metropolis that is modern Rome

Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.

The exterior of the Colosseum, showing the partially intact outer wall (left) and the mostly intact inner wall (right)

Although in the 21st century it stays partially ruined because of damage caused by devastating earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome. It is one of Rome's most popular tourist attractions and still has close connections with the Roman Catholic Church, as each Good Friday the Pope leads a torchlit "Way of the Cross" procession that starts in the area around the Colosseum.

Original façade of the Colosseum
Name
The Colosseum's original Latin name was Amphitheatrum Flavium, often anglicized as Flavian Amphitheater. The building was constructed by emperors of the Flavian dynasty, hence its original name, after the reign of Emperor Nero. This name is still used in modern English, but generally the structure is better known as the Colosseum. In antiquity, Romans may have referred to the Colosseum by the unofficial name Amphitheatrum Caesareum; this name could have been strictly poetic as it was not exclusive to the Colosseum; Vespasian and Titus, builders of the Colosseum, also constructed an amphitheater of the same name in Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli).

Entrance LII of the Colosseum, with Roman numerals still visible

The name Colosseum has long been believed to be derived from a colossal statue of Nero nearby (the statue of Nero was named after the Colossus of Rhodes). This statue was later remodeled by Nero's successors into the likeness of Helios (Sol) or Apollo, the sun god, by adding the appropriate solar crown. Nero's head was also replaced several times with the heads of succeeding emperors. Despite its pagan links, the statue remained standing well into the medieval era and was credited with magical powers. It came to be seen as an iconic symbol of the permanence of Rome.

The Colosseum arena, showing the hypogeum

In the 8th century, a famous epigram attributed to the Venerable Bede celebrated the symbolic significance of the statue in a prophecy that is variously quoted: Quamdiu stat Colisæus, stat et Roma; quando cadet colisæus, cadet et Roma; quando cadet Roma, cadet et mundus ("as long as the Colossus stands, so shall Rome; when the Colossus falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, so falls the world").This is often mistranslated to refer to the Colosseum rather than the Colossus (as in, for instance, Byron's poem Childe Harold's Pilgrimage). However, at the time that the Pseudo-Bede wrote, the masculine noun coliseus was applied to the statue rather than to what was still known as the Flavian amphitheatre.

Detail of the hypogeum

The Colossus did eventually fall, possibly being pulled down to reuse its bronze. By the year 1000 the name "Colosseum" had been coined to refer to the amphitheatre. The statue itself was largely forgotten and only its base survives, situated between the Colosseum and the nearby Temple of Venus and Roma.

The Colosseum – a view from the Oppian Hill

The name further evolved to Coliseum during the Middle Ages. In Italy, the amphitheatre is still known as il Colosseo, and other Romance languages have come to use similar forms such as le Colisée (French), el Coliseo (Spanish) and o Coliseu (Portuguese).


 A panorama of the interior of the Colosseum in 2014.
 Plants on the inner walls of the Colosseum







AN Italy

Capitoline Hill

The Capitoline Hill ( /ˈkæpɨtəlaɪn/ or /kəˈpɪtɵlaɪn/; Latin: Collis Capitōlīnus), between the Forum and the Campus Martius, is one of the seven hills of Rome. It was the citadel (equivalent of the ancient Greek acropolis) of the earliest Romans. By the 16th century, Capitolinus had become Capitolino in Italian, with the alternative Campidoglio stemming from Capitolium. The English word capitol derives from Capitoline. The Capitoline contains few ancient ground-level ruins, as they are almost entirely covered up by Medieval and Renaissance palaces (now housing the Capitoline Museums) that surround a piazza, a significant urban plan designed by Michelangelo.

 The Capitoline Hill cordonata (centre of picture) leading from Via del Teatro di Marcello to Piazza del Campidoglio.
 View from the Piazza del Campidoglio
 Replica of the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.
 Piazza del Campidoglio, on the top of Capitoline Hill, with the façade of Palazzo Senatorio
A close up of the cordonata on the Capitoline Hill. The steps on the left lead to the church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli






AN Italy

Castel Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo from the bridge. The top statue depicts the angel from whom the building derives its name.

The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. The building was later used by the popes as a fortress and castle, and is now a museum.

The view from Castel Sant'Angelo towards Vatican City
Hadrian's tomb
The tomb of the Roman emperor Hadrian, also called Hadrian's mole, was erected on the right bank of the Tiber, between 135 AD and 139 AD. Originally the mausoleum was a decorated cylinder, with a garden top and golden quadriga. Hadrian's ashes were placed here a year after his death in Baiae in 138 AD, together with those of his wife Sabina, and his first adopted son, Lucius Aelius, who also died in 138 AD. Following this, the remains of succeeding emperors were also placed here, the last recorded deposition being Caracalla in 217 AD. The urns containing these ashes were probably placed in what is now known as the Treasury room deep within the building. Hadrian also built the Pons Aelius facing straight onto the mausoleum – it still provides a scenic approach from the center of Rome and the right bank of the Tiber, and is renowned for the Baroque additions of statues of angels holding aloft elements of the Passion of Christ.

The original angel by Raffaello da Montelupo.
Destruction
Much of the tomb contents and decorations have been lost since the building's conversion to a military fortress in 401 and its subsequent inclusion in the Aurelian Walls by Flavius Augustus Honorius. The urns and ashes were scattered by Visigoth looters during Alaric's sacking of Rome in 410, and the original decorative bronze and stone statuary were thrown down upon the attacking Goths when they besieged Rome in 537, as recounted by Procopius. An unusual survivor, however, is the capstone of a funerary urn (probably that of Hadrian), which made its way to Saint Peter's Basilica and was incorporated into a massive Renaissance baptistery. The use of spolia from the tomb in the post-Roman period was noted in the 16th century - Giorgio Vasari writes:

...in order to build churches for the use of the Christians, not only were the most honoured temples of the idols [pagan Roman gods] destroyed, but in order to ennoble and decorate Saint Peter's with more ornaments than it then possessed, they took away the stone columns from the tomb of Hadrian, now the castle of Sant'Angelo, as well as many other things which we now see in ruins.
Legend holds that the Archangel Michael appeared atop the mausoleum, sheathing his sword as a sign of the end of the plague of 590, thus lending the castle its present name.


Museum
Decommissioned in 1901, the castle is now a museum, the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant'Angelo.

Ponte Sant'Angelo which leads to the Castel Sant'Angelo.
Popular culture
The Castel Sant'Angelo appeared in Dan Brown's 2000 novel Angels & Demons. The location was the secret lair for the Hassassin and was seen as the last existing church of the Illuminati. The book also emphasized the Passetto di Borgo as a secret way of getting from the Vatican to the castle. It also appears in the 2009 motion picture, Angels & Demons, as one of the locations where a clue that leads to the papal assassin.

The castle appeared in the film Roman Holiday in a scene taking place on barges on the river below.

Verschaffelt's replacement.

In Puccini's opera, Tosca, the Castel is where Cavaradossi is held prisoner. After murdering Scarpia in his private room at the Palazzo Farnese, Floria Tosca goes to the Castel Sant'Angelo, safe conducts in hand, where her lover, Mario Cavaradossi is to be executed. She has been led to believe it will be a mock execution and is horrified to find her lover dead. Rather than be arrested by Scarpia's henchmen, she throws herself from the rooftop.

The castle is one of the settings of Endymion and The Rise of Endymion, books in the Hyperion Cantos by author Dan Simmons. In the novels it has been relocated, along with large parts of the Vatican to the fictional planet Pacem. It serves as a prison and site of the torture of several protagonists in the novels, which include a resurgent version of the Catholic Church being the major power in human society.

In 1980, the American punk rock band The Ramones played a concert outside the castle and also the hard rock band Kiss played an outside show at the Castel.

In the Trinity Blood novels, a castle called San Angelo is the seat of power for the Catholic Church, though it is not known whether this is the same castle as the one in real life.

The Castel appears in the 2009 video game Assassin's Creed II and also more prominently in the game's 2010 sequel, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. In both games it is used as the official residence of Pope Alexander VI and his children, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia. The Castel is protected by the Papal Guard as well as many Roman guard. During Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, the Castel is infiltrated by the main character, Ezio Auditore, in an attempt to rescue Caterina Sforza and again later when trying to recover one of the "Pieces of Eden". It appears again in the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood downloadable content, The Da Vinci Disappearance, when Ezio must infiltrate the Castel to steal two paintings by Leonardo da Vinci. Also in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood you can gain a trophy for jumping from the top of the Castel Sant'Angelo with a parachute.

The design of the McKinley National Memorial in Canton, Ohio, which is the final resting place of US President William McKinley and his family, was based upon the Tomb of Hadrian according to its architect, Harold Van Buren Magonigle.


AN Italy