so, this is Rome. whatever i thought i knew about this city prior, i was still unprepared for what awaited me.
when i think of the city of Rome, i think of power. wealth, political strength, religious strife, and incredible potential. anything feels possible when considering the ancient Romans.
we talked a lot about the correlation between politics and religion in ancient Rome, specifically surrounding the Constantine era. after all, it used to be criminal to profess Christianity in Rome. he was kind of a big deal because he made policies allowing for religious freedom.
in the churches (basilicas) that i visited, there was an undeniable sense of this.
political buildings such as the one below were also closely linked with religious symbolism and characters.
this is the Altare della Patria, a shockingly impressive monument also sometimes nicknamed “the wedding cake” or “the typewriter.” i will readily admit to being a bit obsessed with it.
this building was jaw-dropping. the first time i saw it, it was nighttime, and while illuminated by strategically placed lights, it appeared a million feet tall.
in the daytime, it was no less impressive. i found myself longing for a wider angle lens to capture it’s grandeur.
taken from within the forum. every impressive arch, monument, and basilica appears to layer themselves from within.
i never considered myself a sculpture fan until visiting Italy. while looking through my photos, i discovered that my eye instinctually focused on the intricate detail of these marble and stone sculptures littered throughout the city.
they really got under my skin.
the problem is that i don’t have the words i’d like to have in order to properly describe the experience of walking amongst all this.
and then theres’ the Colosseum. everybody loves the Colosseum.
it’s so statuesque and strong.
i couldn’t help feeling burdened, however, while walking through.
recognizing that it was a great structural feat, for that era as much as now, did not diminish for me the extreme cultural events that occurred within. most who know me know that i am somewhat turned off by overt displays of violence. it saddens me greatly.
and this structure, as great and powerful as it was, indicates much suffering of individuals at the hands of the majority.
i am a Christian. it’s who i am, it’s what i do. my life is based on this.
and within these fantastically structured and well-preserved walls, men and women who shared my convictions were killed, often by lions, and always for entertainment purposes. my eyes grew hot with tears as i stood on the edge of the upper level, peering down below and feeling a warring juxtaposition of emotions.
[the base of the Colosseum, where the animals and the people would be held prior to the games]
as an adolescent, i read a book trilogy entitled The Mark of the Lion, by an author named Francine Rivers. it chronicled a fascinating journey of a Roman family who employed Hadassah, a Jewish slave girl who also happened to be a Christian.
before i left on this trip, i was explaining to a friend that i was traveling Europe with the intention of following in the footsteps of historical Christian figures. she tilted her head and nodded slightly.
“you really believe in all that stuff, don’t you?”
and i do. with all my heart.
more so now than ever before. continue on to Rome part II and i will tell you why.