Christianism ("Christianity"), Etc.


6

Venice - Florence - Rome

Recently (12/16-25/95) I made a brief historical visit to Murano glass, etc. (Venice); the Renaissance, etc. (Florence); the Newer [stolen, superimposed, etc.] Paganism [Christianism], etc. (Rome).
A guided tour (38 persons). "275" photographs (snapshots). Our tour group traveled superbly by bus: Venice - Padova - Bologna - Florence - Rome - Pompeii -Sorrento - back to Rome.

Following are a few excerpts from tourist guide books, which indicate "historical" characteristics of the Newer Paganism [Christianism ("Christianity")]:

References:

B

=

Berlitz Rome, c1994.

G

=

God and Money Florence and the Medici in the Renaissance, Richard Fremantle, Olschki, 1992 [ purchased in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence].

K

=

Rome, Knopf Guides, Knopf, 1994.

M

=

Tourist Guide Michelin Rome, Michelin Tyre, 1995.

S

=

Rick Steves' Best of Italy, John Muir, 1995. [I thank my old friend (ocean snorkeling partner) D.A., San Diego, CA, for this reference.].

V

=

Venice, Insight Compact Guides, Apa, 1995.

 


Venice:

"___ St Mark's Basilica (San Marco)....History In the year 828, Venice successfully stole the relics of St Mark from Alexandria; Venetian legend has it that Mark the Evangelist regained consciousness on an island in the lagoon after a shipwreck, after having been addressed in a dream by an angel with the words Pax tibi, Marce evangelista meus. Hic requiescet corpus tuum (Peace be with you, Mark, my Evangelist. This will be your final resting place)--thus conveniently justifying the young state's claim to the relics. " [V-16].

"San Marco basilica has undergone very few significant alterations over the past 500 years or so. The merchant republic of Venice had done its patron saint--whose dominions far and near were symbolised by the winged lion of St Mark--fitting honour at the height of its power, and the basilica became the Chiesa d'Oro, the Golden Church. " [V-17].

" St. Mark's Basilica--For well over a thousand years, it has housed the saint's bones. The mosaic above the door at the far left of the church shows two guys carrying Mark's coffin into the church. Mark looks pretty grumpy after the long voyage from Egypt [Alexandria]. " [S-62].

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"Upstairs [St. Mark's Basilica] you can see...the newly restored original bronze horses.... These horses, made during the days of Alexander the Great (4th century B.C.), were taken to Rome by Nero, to Constantinople by Constantine, to Venice by crusaders, to Paris by Napoleon, back "home" to Venice when Napoleon fell, and finally indoors out of the acidic air.

The treasures of the church (requiring two more L3,000 admissions) give you the best chance outside of Istanbul or Ravenna to see the glories of Byzantium. Venetian crusaders looted the Christian city of Constantinople and brought home piles of lavish loot (until the advent of TV evangelism, perhaps the lowest point [see: The Dark Side of Christian History, Helen Ellerbe, 1995] in Christian history). " [S-63].

Comment: We stopped in Padova to visit the famous Basilica of Saint Anthony of Padova (1195 - 1231); known as a skilled speaker, and for his knowledge of the Bible. Miracles are attributed to him.

In the Chapel of Relics, his tongue, lower jaw (with teeth), and vocal apparatus, are separately displayed.

Commercialism (extensive) includes services of priests, religious "s & m" nicknacks, etc.

Florence:

"The great tragedy in Michelangelo's life is that he lived and worked in such a pseudo-religious age. His patrons wished him to express truth in its visual form, beauty, when they themselves were so untruthful. They wanted Michelangelo to express a static, falsely hierarchical world when reality all about them was in movement and developing naturally.

Artists--including Michelangelo--turn more and more to themes from the Old Testament and from Greek mythology, where the figures are pre-Christian, in order to avoid this difficult reality in their attempt to be both good Christians and good artists. " [G-48].

[as we were viewing the Sistine Chapel (Rome), members of our tour group, were questioning our guide about "pagan" figures overhead].

"The Renaissance could hardly go forward without giving up the ancient pan-European concept that Christianity should be directed and controlled through a powerful centralized bureaucracy. This concept of a single, all-powerful, temporal Church--a Christian Empire--had lasted over a thousand years, from the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine [Emperor 306 (312) - 337] in the 4th century A.D., [the following phrase is a common error (propaganda!)] when he made Christianity the State religion of the Roman Empire. " [G-49].

["In 381 C.E. Theodosius established it [Christianity] as the religion of the Roman empire. " (Penguin Dict. of Religions, 1984, 89). This quotation is oversimplification (not correct) (more propaganda!). Complex subject.].

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Rome:

"Rome

Down the centuries the city on the seven hills has been a symbol of
political power and artistic patronage, paganism and Christianity, a
combination of myth and history.
According to legend, Rome was founded by twin brothers, cast adrift
on the Tiber and raised by a she-wolf.
From its humble beginnings on the Palatine in 753 BC the city grew
to be the capital of an immense empire and then evolved into the
sumptuous city of the Popes which arose round the tomb of St Peter
. "
[M-back cover].

"Cherished legend claims that Rome was founded by Romulus, sired with twin brother Remus by Mars of a vestal virgin and abandoned on the Palatine Hill to be suckled by a she-wolf. Historians agree that the site and traditional founding date of 753 BC are just about right. " [B-10].

"Religion--Rome drew on all mythological sources for her deities; the twelve main gods and goddesses were the same in number, if not always in name, as their Greek counterparts on Mount Olympus. " [M-22].

"Eight tall columns standing on a podium at the foot of the Capitol belong to the Tempio di Saturno (Temple of Saturn), one of the earliest temples in Rome. It doubled as both state treasury and centre of the December debauchery [etc.] know[n] as the Saturnalia, the pagan precursor of Christmas. " [B-145].

[Temple of Vesta] "the sacred flame perpetuating the Roman state was tended by six Vestal Virgins who, from childhood, observed a 30-year vow of chastity under threat of being buried alive if they broke it. They were under the supervision of the high priest, the Pontifex Maximus (the popes have since appropriated this title)". [B-46].

"The First Capitol Hill To the Romans, the Capitol was both citadel and sanctuary, the symbolic centre of government, where the consuls took their oath and the Republic's coinage was minted. Its name, now applied to many legislatures across the world (notably Congress in Washington), originated in a legend that the skull of a mythical hero [compare: traditions of St. Peter and St. Paul] was unearthed here during excavations for the Temple of Juno. Augurs interpreted this as a sign that Rome would one day be head (caput) of the world. " [B-25].

"Augustus The Emperor [27 B.C.E. - 14 C.E.] is shown here as a pontiff (his head covered with a fold of his toga, in accordance with the custom of priests in the act of sacrificing). He assumed the title of pontifex maximus--a title inherited by the popes--which made him head of the Roman religion for life and gave his power a legitimate and sacred basis. " [K-164].

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"All Roman Emperors from Julius Caesar to Gratian had been pontifex maximus, high priest of the Roman gods. When Theodosius refused the title as incompatible with his status as a Christian, the Christian bishop of Rome picked it up. Magi, priests of Zarathustra, wore robes that featured the sword of Mithra. Identical robes are worn by Christian priests to this day. " [Mythology's Last Gods (see 170, 173), 357].

[Roman Forum] "In the 3C building came to a halt: not only for lack of space but also because of the spread of a new religion which entailed the worship of one god. At first it was preached by a handful of nobodies and then from AD 60 by a certain Paul of Tarsus [Ecclesiastical Corporation! (see #4, 105-151)]. The emperors resisted but in AD 391 Theodosius finally closed the pagan temples.

The Forum's downfall began in 410 when Alaric the Goth swept in from the Danube with his savage hordes and set fire to the Curia and the Basilica Aemilia. There followed an earthquake in 442, the depredations of Genseric's Vandals in 455, the armies of Theodoric in 500 and of Belisarius in 537, after which the Forum was dead. Rome's prestige no longer lay in grandiose monuments but, as the resting-place of St Peter the Apostle, the city was celebrated throughout the Christian world. " [M-107].

[Mamertine Prison] "In the Middle Ages a legend arose that St Peter had been imprisoned here; hence the name San Pietro in Carcere (St Peter in prison). On the left of the entrance is a list of Christian martyrs who died in the prison. At the head of the staircase linking the two rooms is a hollowed-out-stone said to bear the imprint of the Apostle's head as he was jostled by his gaolers.

The lower chamber (tullianum) was built at the end of the 4C BC out of huge blocks of tufa arranged in a vault and was used as a cistern or a tomb. Legend tells how Peter and Paul made water miraculously spring from the earth so that they could baptize their gaolers. The spring and the pillar to which the prisoners were chained can still be seen. " [M-101].

[Old Appian Way] 'The "Domine, quo vadis?" Church recalls a famous legend. While fleeing from persecution in Rome, Peter is supposed to have met Christ on the road and asked him "Domine quo vadis? (Lord, whither goest thou?)". "To Rome, to be crucified a second time", replied Christ and disappeared leaving his footprints in the road. Ashamed of his weakness Peter returned to Rome and met his death.' [M-46].

"An Apostle for an Emperor The bronze statue of St Peter was placed [replaced the statue of Trajan] on top of Trajan's Column [erected 114 (Webster's Bio. Dict., 1980, 1483)] on December 4, 1587 [by: Sixtus V]. Half a cannon from Castel Sant' Angelo, three doors (from Sant' Agnese, the Scala Santa and St Peter's) and part of a pilaster from the Pantheon were melted down to make the statue. " [K-167].

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[Trajan's Column] "A bronze statue of Trajan [Emperor 98 - 117] was placed on top of the column probably after his death [erected 114. Trajan died 117]. In 1587 Pope Sixtus V had it replaced with the statue of St Peter that one sees today. Although a pagan monument Trajan's Column was never maltreated by the Christians who believed that Trajan's soul had been saved by the prayers of St Gregory. " [Reminiscent of recent posthumous baptisms of non-Mormon celebrities, by Mormons.] [M-104].

"The Column of Marcus Aurelius [Emperor 161 - 180] Inside the column a spiral staircase with 190 steps leads to the top, where the Emperor's statue originally stood. In 1589, at Sixtus V's request, Domenico Fontana replaced it with a statue of St Paul. " [K-267].

[Piazza Colona] "The column_ at the centre of the square was probably erected between 176 and 193 in honour of Marcus Aurelius (161-80), who preferred philosophy to war but was forced to campaign on the banks of the Danube. He died at the front of the plague....In 1589 Pope Sixtus V had the statue of the Emperor on the top of the column replaced with a statue of St Paul. He also restored the base and added an inscription wrongly [negation of Marcus Aurelius + "back-dating" + etc.] attributing the column to Antoninus Pius [Emperor 138-161], Marcus Aurelius' predecessor. " [M-131-132].

[Coliseum] "Although it is not certain that Christians were martyred there, in the 19th century a Way of the Cross was set up around the arena in their honor, where the Pope still prays every year at Easter. The Coliseum's consecration to the Christian martyrs put an end to the pillaging of its marble and travertine [by the Christians, et al.], which had been going on since the Middle Ages. " [K-170].

Comment: Within the Colosseum (12/23/95, occasional light rain. mild.), I listened to an impressive ("55", male) tour guide, explaining to his tour group. Summary:

A. Nero had been responsible for deaths of Christians [see: Mythology's Last Gods: Yaweh and Jesus, 1992, 297, 306-307 (see 359 regarding martyrdom ["Perhaps as many as two-thirds of the roughly 2500 Christians executed by Roman Emperors were virtual suicides. "])]. Nero died in 68.

B. The Colosseum was inaugurated in 80.

C. Christians were not killed in the Colosseum.

D. The story of Christian deaths in the Colosseum, was, and has been promoted, to preserve the [skeletal] remains of the Colosseum.

[(street) Clivus Scauri] "The house of St John and St Paul. This can be reached by a small staircase to the right of the choir. It is a moving testimonial to how Christianity took root in heathen [Jewish-Christian dehumanizing epithet] soil: mythological scenes appear alongside symbols [which symbols? origins?] of the new religion. "

[K-188].

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"The Via Sacra culminates in the Arch of Titus, built to commemorate the capture of Jerusalem in AD 70. Restored by Giuseppe Valadier in 1821, it shows in magnificent carved relief the triumphal procession of Titus bearing the spoils of the city, among them the Temple of Jerusalem's seven-branched golden candlestick and silver trumpets which later vanished, possibly in the sack of Rome by the Vandals. Even today, many Jews will avoid walking through the arch that glorifies their tragedy. " [B-46-47].

'"The Roaring Lion" This relief on the house of Caius Manilius, in the Via del Portico d'Ottavia, shows a lion (the symbol of Rome) seizing a deer.' [K-252].

[Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio] "was rumoured to have used a prostitute as the model for the Virgin Mary in his painting of the Madonna of Loreto, which hangs in the nearby church of Sant' Agostino. We know from the court records of the day that the prostitute, who plied her trade in Piazza Navona, was the cause of a quarrel in which Caravaggio wounded a notary in the summer of 1605. " [B-36].
 

 

"Constantine

(306-337)

Chlorus's son, Constantine [280? - 337], defeated Maximian's son, Maxentius,

 

312

and became emperor in the west.

 

313

Edict of Milan [dubious, and disputed] granting freedom of worship to all and official recognition to Christianity.

 

324

Re-unification of the Empire.

 

330

Transfer of the capital to Byzantium, which was renamed Constantinople. Following Constantine's death, re-division [of] the empire among his three sons.

 

325

First Council of the church held in Nicea. " [M-18].


[Milvian Bridge (approximate: 2 miles north of the now Vatican, on the Tiber)] "It was near here that the famous battle took place on 28 October 312 between Constantine and Maxentius, rival pretenders to the imperial throne. On the eve of the battle Constantine had a vision which resulted in his victory. Christ appeared to him and told him to mark his soldiers' shields with a Christian symbol. The alternative tradition that a cross appeared in the sky with the legend "You will conquer in this sign" ["In hoc signo vinces"] is less reliable. Certain historians consider this to be the date of Constantine's conversion to Christianity. " [M-134].

[Note: the following (171-173, 174) excursuses lack notations of specific sources. Research to corroborate, dissent, expand, etc., is recommended.].

Excursus: "The role of Constantine in the history and development of Christianity has been falsified, misrepresented, and misunderstood. "

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'In the first place Constantine's "conversion"--if that is the appropriate word--does not seem to have been Christian at all but unabashedly pagan. He appears to have had some sort of vision, or numinous experience, in the precincts of a pagan temple to the Gallic Apollo, either in the Vosges or near Autun. According to a witness accompanying Constantine's army at the time, the vision was of the sun god--the deity worshiped by certain cults under the name of "Sol Invictus," "the Invincible Sun. "'

'Contrary to tradition, Constantine did not make Christianity the official state religion of Rome. The state religion of Rome under Constantine was, in fact, pagan sun worship; and Constantine, all his life, acted as its chief priest. Indeed, his reign was called a "sun emperorship [compare: Hirohito (Japan)]," and Sol Invictus figured everywhere--including on the imperial banners and the coinage of the realm. The image of Constantine as a fervent convert to Christianity is clearly wrong. He himself was not even baptized until 337--when he lay on his deathbed and was apparently too weakened or too apathetic to protest. Nor can he be credited with the Chi Rho monogram [see #2, 20, 112.]. An inscription bearing this monogram was found on a tomb at Pompeii dating from two and a half centuries before.3'

"The cult of Sol Invictus was Syrian in origin and imposed by Roman emperors on their subjects a century before Constantine. Although it contained elements of Baal and Astarte worship, it was essentially monotheistic. In effect, it posited the sun god as the sum of all attributes of all other gods and thus peacefully subsumed its potential rivals. Moreover, it conveniently harmonized with the cult of Mithras--which was also prevalent in Rome and the empire at the time and which also involved solar worship. "

[See: The Cult of Sol Invictus, Gaston H. Halsberghe, Brill, 1972].

"For Constantine the cult of Sol Invictus was, quite simply, expedient. His primary, indeed obsessive, objective was unity--unity in politics, in religion, and in territory. A cult or state religion that included all other cults within it obviously helped to achieve this objective. And it was under the auspices of the Sol Invictus cult that Christianity consolidated its position. "

"The cult of Sol Invictus meshed happily with that of Mithras--so much so, indeed, that the two are often confused [see following (173) excursus].4 Both emphasized the status of the sun. Both held Sunday as sacred. Both celebrated a major birth festival on December 25. As a result Christianity could also find points of convergence with Mithraism--the more so as Mithraism stressed the immortality of the soul, a future judgment, and the resurrection of the dead.

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"the Council of Nicea [325 C.E.] decided, by vote,5 [Note 5, 473: "218 for, 2 against. The Son was then pronounced identical with the Father. "] that Jesus was a god, not a mortal prophet. Again, however, it must be emphasized that Constantine's paramount consideration was not piety but unity and expediency. As a god Jesus could be associated conveniently with Sol Invictus. As a mortal prophet he would have been more difficult to accommodate. In short, Christian orthodoxy lent itself to a politically desirable fusion with the official state religion; and insofar as it did so Constantine conferred his support upon Christian orthodoxy. "

'Thus, a year after the Council of Nicea [325 C.E.] he [Constantine] sanctioned the confiscation and destruction of all works that challenged orthodox teachings--works by pagan authors that referred to Jesus, as well as works by "heretical" Christians. He also arranged for a fixed income to be allocated to the Church and installed the bishop of Rome in the Lateran Palace.6 Then, in A.D. 331, he commissioned and financed new copies of the Bible. This constituted one of the single most decisive factors in the entire history of Christianity and provided Christian orthodoxy--the "adherents of the message"--with an unparalleled opportunity.'

[from: Holy Blood, Holy Grail [first seen 1/5/96], Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, Henry Lincoln, Dell, 1983 (c1982), 365 to 368].

Excursus: "Galerius [Roman Emperor (tetrarchy) 293 - 311] was followed by Constantine (Constantinius), another Mithraist, who nonetheless ended the proscription and declared Christianity legal [Edict of Milan 313 (existence debated. "not an edict and was not issued at Milan" [Oxford Dict. C.C., 1974, 915])]. Some years later Constantine himself became a Christian, for reasons explained by his nephew Julian [Emperor 360 - 363]: Constantine at various times murdered his son, his second wife, and several other close relatives. Refused purification by the Mithraic Holy Father, who informed him that such crimes were unforgivable, Constantine turned to the Christians. He was told that all sins could be washed away by the Christian immersion initiation and, since Jesus differed from Mithra only in name, he promptly converted.

He did not, however, accept immediate immersion. Since the rite could be performed once only, and no alternative method of sin-removal yet existed, Constantine kept a priest at his side for the remainder of his life with instructions to immerse him the moment it became evident that he was about to die. He was thus enabled to sin with impunity for many more years, knowing that he could still obtain a no-questions-asked ticket to the pie in the sky when he died. Much later, when the Christian hierarchy recognised that the one-forgiveness-only rule was keeping people from being immersed until they were near death, the alternative ritual of forgiveness-through-confession was added to their mythology's mythology. " [?].

[from: Mythology's Last Gods: Yahweh and Jesus, William Harwood, Prometheus, 1992, 361].

["It is not hard to see why Eusebius [c. 260 - c. 340] regarded Constantine's reign [306 (312) - 337] as the fulfillment of divine providence--nor to concede the force of Constantine's assessment of his own role as that of the 13th Apostle. "

(from: Britannica, 1994, V. 16, 689) (End of article)].

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"In the 8th century, citing a document, the Donation of Constantine (later found to be a forgery), the popes began to claim political authority over all of Italy. " [B-16].

[Hall of Constantine (Vatican)] 'Constantine's Donation [famous forgery (since "1440", Lorenzo Valla)] (16)--Guilio Romano [painted c. 1499 - c. 1524 (see M-38)] and Francesco Penni collaborated on this scene which is set inside the old St Peter's and shows the Emperor Constantine (306-37) giving Rome to the Pope and thus founding the temporal power of the Papacy. In his Divine Comedy Dante [1265 -1321] spoke out vehemently against the gift: "Ah, Constantine, what evil was spawned not by your conversion but by that gift which the first rich pope accepted from you. "' [M-214].

[St Peter's Square] "At the north end of the porch in the vestibule of the Scala Regia (closed to the public) stands a statue of Constantine (5), the first Christian Emperor, by Bernini (1670). " [M-201].

Excursus: 'In A.D. 303, a quarter of a century earlier, the pagan emperor Diocletian [284 - 305 (tetrarchy)] had undertaken to destroy all Christian writings that could be found. As a result Christian documents--especially in Rome--all but vanished. When Constantine [306 (312) - 337] commissioned new versions of these documents, it enabled the custodians of orthodoxy to revise, edit, and rewrite their material as they saw fit, in accordance with their tenets. It was at this point that most of the crucial alterations in the New Testament were probably made and Jesus [see #3, 41-104] assumed the unique status he has enjoyed ever since. The importance of Constantine's commission must not be underestimated. Of the five thousand extant early manuscript versions of the New Testament, not one predates the fourth century.7 The New Testament as it exists today is essentially a product of fourth-century editors and writers--custodians of orthodoxy, "adherents of the message," with vested interests to protect.'

[from: Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Dell, 1983, 368-369].

Rome (Vatican):

"Christianity had its roots in Judaism and at first Jews and Christians were confused with one another....During the last years of the 1C and the early years of the 2C the Christian church became organised....As the organisation of the Church evolved, there was soon one bishop at the head of several communities and the idea arose that the first bishop of each community had been appointed by an apostle [compare: St. Peter, et al.]. The bishop of Rome (qv) claimed primacy. For nineteen centuries the popes at the head of the Roman church have influenced the history of Christianity. " [M-25].

["It was not until 384 that the bishop of Rome called himself Pope for the first time. " (from: Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Dell, 1983, 473)].

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[Christian Art] "Architecture--The chief Christian building was the basilica (not to be confused with the pagan basilicas (qv) [from: M-32: "The first basilica in Rome was built in 185 BC in the Forum. Originally these buildings were used as law courts, throne rooms or covered markets; their conversion to a religious function was a later development in the Christian era. "] which had nothing to do with religion). The first buildings of this type were erected by Constantine over the tombs of Peter and Paul the Apostles (St Peter's in the Vatican; St Paul Without the Walls)". [M-33].

" St. Peter's Basilica--There is no doubt: this is the richest and most impressive church on earth....Directly under the dome, stairs will lead you down to the level of the earlier church and the tombs of many of the popes, including the very first one...Peter. " [S-42-43].

[St Peter's Basilica] "The building of St Peter's Basilica is linked to the martyrdom of Peter, which took place cAD 64. After a huge fire which destroyed the greater part of Rome and for which the Emperor Nero [Emperor 54 - 68] held the Christians responsible, he ordered many of them to be executed. Simon, called Peter by Jesus, was probably [note shift here, from "probably", to "history"] among the condemned. According to the law, he was simply a Jewish fisherman, a native of Capernaum in Galilee, who therefore suffered the appalling punishment of crucifixion in Nero's Circus at the foot of the Vatican Hill. In order to distinguish his own death from Jesus', Peter humbly begged to be crucified upside down. " [M-198].

[Vatican Necropolis] 'The excavations, carried out between 1939 and 1950 on the orders of Pope Pius XII, revealed a pagan necropolis completely filled--in with earth by Constantine to form a foundation for the original ancient basilica in which was found the tomb of St Peter. After crossing one of the foundation walls in Constantine's basilica, the necropolis is reached. Two rows of tombs (dating from the 1C to early 4C) separated by a path are arranged on a slope parallel with the axis of the main nave and run from east to west. The entrance to one of the tombs bears an inscription recording the occupant's wish to be buried "in Vaticano ad circum". In another tomb, that of the Julian family, are the oldest known Christian mosaics. These show "Christ as the Sun" on a horse-drawn chariot and the two stories of Jonah and the fisherman.' [M-205].

"The position of St Peter's tomb has aroused lively controversy among historians, archeologists and theologians. Until the Vatican excavations were made, his tomb was thought to be in St Sebastian's Catacombs (qv). According to M Carcopino ["Spin Doctor"!], the Saint's relics have had a hazardous existence. Fearing desecration during the Valerian persecution, the Christians may have moved them in 258 to St Sebastian's Catacombs which did not then belong to the Church and were therefore unlikely to attract attention from the authorities. Not until 336, when Christians were again entitled to practice their religion, would the relics have been returned to their original resting place in the Vatican. " [The "Spin"!] [M-205-206].

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[Sistine Chapel] "On the chapel's altar wall is Michelangelo's tempestuous Last Judgement, painted 23 years after the ceiling, when the artist was in his sixties, and imbued with profound religious soul-searching. An almost naked Jesus dispenses justice more like a stern, even fierce classical god-hero than the conventionally gentle biblical figure. The artist's agonizing self-portrait can be seen in the flayed skin of St Bartholomew, below Jesus. " [B-62].

"The great age of building reached its climax with Bernini's magnificent colonnades, which made the Piazza San Pietro the most theatrical square in the world. "

[K-foldout at 200].

Excursus: "Greeks and Romans were accustomed to the benevolence of hundreds of gods, each of whom had jurisdiction over perhaps a single river or household fitting. Christianity left the minor gods their prerogatives but gave them a new designation: saints; and converted their festivals into saints' days. In Ireland, for example, the Celtic goddess Brigid became Saint Briget, whose worship continues to this day. "

[Mythology's Last Gods (see 173), 357].

Rome (Churches):

"it [altar of the Lateran Basilica] contains fragments of the altar on which the first popes of Rome, from St Peter to St Sylvester, officiated. " [K-198].

"The steeper flight of steps up the Campidoglio climbs to the austere church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, on the site of the great temple of Juno Moneta, where the Tiburtine Sibyl announced the coming of Christ to Augustus [Emperor 27 B.C.E. - 14 C.E.]. The 13th-century church harbours the curious and much-revered Bambino, kept in a separate little chapel. Some Romans like to attribute miraculous healing powers to this statue of the infant Jesus, and stacks of unopened letters from all over the world addressed to Il Bambino surround the stumpy jewel-bedecked figure. " [B-27].

"The church of Santa Maria in Trastevere is reputedly the oldest in the city. Its foundation (on the spot where oil is said to have gushed to presage the birth of Christ) can be traced back to the 3rd century". [B-41].

[Santa Maria Maggiore] "Note the opulence of the coffered Renaissance ceiling, gilded with the first shipment of gold from the Americas. A casket of gold, silver and crystal contains fragments reputed to have come from the holy crib, brought back from the Holy Land by St Helena, Constantine's mother. " [B-64].

'San Silvestro in Capite This church was constructed on the ruins of the Temple of the Sun built by Aurelian [270 - 275]. The name "in Capite" refers to the head of St John the Baptist, which has been preserved here as a relic for centuries.' [K-302].

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[St. Peter In Chains (Church)] "St Peter's Chains--The chains are displayed in the confessio beneath the chancel. Originally there were two chains: one which had bound the Apostle in Jerusalem, the other in Rome. The legend of the miraculous joining of the two chains arose in the 13C. " [M-86].

[Lateran Palace (long, important history)] "Sixtus V (1585-90) demolished what remained of the medieval palace with two exceptions: the stairs, which according to tradition came from Pontius Pilate's palace and had been used by Christ, and the private chapel of the popes". [M-173].

[Lateran Palace ("now the headquarters of the Diocese of Rome (Vicariate), with the Pope at its head". M-172)] "At the top is the popes' chapel, known as the Holy of Holies __ (Sancta Sanctorum), by analogy with the Temple in Jerusalem, because of the precious relics it contained. It is always closed and can be seen only through heavy grills decorated with fine Cosmati work. Above the altar is the famous icon of Christ called the Acheiropoeton, which means it was not made by human hand: St Luke began it and it was completed by an angel: it arrived in Rome miraculously from Constantinople in the 8C. " [M-173].

'The Chapel of the Relics. Of all the churches in Rome, Santa Croce has one of the richest collections of relics. A special chapel was therefore built for them in 1930. A staircase to the left of the choir leads to this chapel, where one can see three pieces of the True Cross, one of its nails, a fragment of the INRI ("Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews") inscription, two thorns from Christ's crown of thorns, a piece of the sponge that was held up to him, one of the silver pieces paid to Judas, St Thomas's finger which touched the wounds of Christ, and the crossbar from the Good Thief's cross. The paving stones are said to have been laid on a substantial amount of earth from Golgotha.' [K-200].

['Astonishingly prolific were "relics" associated with Jesus, whose foreskin was preserved in no fewer than six churches.' (from: Looking for a Miracle, Joe Nickell, Prometheus, 1993, 75)].

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[_Santa Croce in Gerusalemme] "In this church, originally known simply as Jerusalem, the legend of the Holy Cross is closely linked with history. Here stood the Sessorium where Constantine's mother, Helen [St. Helena c. 255 - c. 330], lived; it was built in the 3C and remained an imperial palace until the 6C. In the 4C Helen went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem as was the custom at that time. She returned in 329 bearing a fragment of the True Cross which she kept in the palace. The same year she died. A legend then developed according to which it was she herself who had found the True Cross. The cult of the Holy Cross was not introduced to Rome until the 7C.

History of the church--In memory of his mother, the Emperor Constantine (or perhaps his sons) converted part of the Sessorian Palace into a church to house the precious relic. It consisted of one large chamber with an apse where the services were held and of a smaller room (the present St Helen's Chapel) where the relic was kept....according to tradition the floor of the chapel was composed of soil brought back from Calvary....

Cappelle della Croce e delle Reliquie (Chapel of the Holy Cross and Relics Chapel) .... The relics of the Passion kept in the Chapel of the Holy Cross attract large numbers of pilgrims. In the first chapel they venerate the arm of the cross of the good robber crucified next to Christ....In the Relics Chapel a glass case behind the altar displays fragments of the True Cross; the "heading" on the Cross, ie the inscription it bore; two thorns from the Crown; St. Thomas' finger; some fragments from the Flagellation stake, from the grotto in Bethlehem and the Holy Sepulchre; a nail from the Cross. " [M-174].

[Basilica of St Paul Without the Walls] "Together with St Peter's in the Vatican, St John Lateran and St Mary Major, St Paul Without the Walls is one of the major basilicas in Rome. Its historical significance attracts visitors from all over the world. Pilgrims to the tomb of the Apostle to the Gentiles are united by a common spirit of veneration.

St Paul's body was buried beside the Via Ostiensis which was lined with tombs as were all the major roads leading out of Rome. A small shrine (memoria) was erected over his grave. In the 4C the Emperor Constantine undertook to build a basilica over the tomb, as he had done for St Peter's tomb. " [M-178].

[Santi Nereo e Achilleo] 'There was a little church here in the 4C called Titulus Fasciolae. Its presence on this site is explained by the legend of the bandage (fasciola) which had been bound round St Peter's leg to cover the sores caused by the chains which had held him in the Mamertine prison (qv); when Peter fled from Rome in fear of the fate which awaited him there, the bandage fell from his leg on this spot which was venerated as a place of worship. A little further on along the Appian Way came St Peter's meeting with Christ and his question "Domine, quo vadis?"'.

[M-188].

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Comments:

Venice: St. Mark is the patron saint; his emblem, the winged lion (in general, the symbol for Mark is a lion [a lion is also the symbol for Rome]).

Obviously, part of the capacity of St. Mark has been associated with War.

Florence: The title of the book by Richard Fremantle (166): God and Money, is an excellent summary (book contents are less dramatic).

Rome: Interesting, considering the age of this planet, the thousands of years of Homo sapiens, the thousands of geographic locations, etc., that the "Son of God" appeared in the first century C.E., and in the Roman Empire.

Roman Imperialism had succeeded, and was approaching its greatest extensions (era of the height of Roman powers).

This setting, for the coming of "Jesus", was very "lucky" (calculate the statistical probabilities [applicable to divine happenings?]). Obviously this event was related to the concept, credited to Voltaire many centuries later [see map, M-22-23, to appreciate Christianity (4th century) as a military camp-follower]: God favors big battalions!

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