Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Vatican

The Vatican State, one of the smallest in the world, is unique in that it is the spiritual center of the Roman Catholic religion. It emerged as an autonomous State independent of Italy on Feb. 11, 1929. Its history, however, goes back to the Emperor Constantine, who wished the first great early Christian Basilica to be built on the spot where St. Peter met his death.

We toured the Sistine Chapel with the magnificent paintings of Michelangelo, Giotto, Bernini and Raphael. Michelangelo's La Pieta is at the right as you enter St. Peter's doors. His imprint is all over the Vatican State. He kept telling the Pope that he was a sculptor not a painter. But the Pope asked him to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel while Raphael and other great artists were working in adjourning rooms on their projects. The Chapel, which is celebrated for Michaelangelo's frescoes, includes panels with pictures by equally famous painters, including Botticelli, Rosselli and Pinturicchio. On the great wall of the altar is depicted the Last Judgment, painted between 1536 and 1545, after he had already painted the entire vault of the Chapel. Simply, magnificent!

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