Day 12 – Thursday, September 21: Rome, Vatican & Sistine Chapel, Appian Way, St. Paul’s Church Outside the Walls

 

Today was our first full day in Rome (the first of two). We got to sleep in a bit because of our later reservation at the Vatican. The weather was overcast again, with one light five-minute shower to begin the day, but partly sunny the rest of the day. Temps were around 80. As we left the hotel, we read from Romans 11:33-36.

 

Rome

Rome is a very large, with 6 million residents (3 million living inside the city limits, with 3 million living around the city). This means a LOT of traffic, everywhere! There are a total of 453 churches in Rome. The ancient Roman walls that we saw from time to time throughout each day (dating from 269-275 AD) are 19 kilometers (13-14 miles) long. 380 towers were incorporated into the wall as well as 14 gates.

 

Vatican City – Museum & Sistine Chapel

We left the hotel at 9:20 today. We drove directly to the area of the Vatican where we visited the museum and Sistine Chapel. About 850 people live in the “Vatican” today, the world’s smallest official “state.” Getting into the Vatican with special “VIP” status helped us avoid the hours-long lines.  

Walking through the museum was packed with people. It was filled with ancient artifacts (i.e. Helena’s sarcophagus), tapestries, and maps that were all breath-taking. Even the ceilings of the hallways were amazing! Finally we arrived at the Sistine Chapel. The uncle of Pope Julius II built it in 1483 when Michelangelo was only five years old. So many of his teachers began painting the images in the chapel. The ceiling was left blue, with golden stars until Michelangelo began his masterwork in 1508. He was 37-38 years old at this time. It took him four years of painting the ceiling. Much later, we also spent another five years to complete the Last Judgment scene on the front wall of the chapel. The chapel is simply stunning! Michelangelo was 89 when he died in 1564. About 35,000 enter the Sistine Chapel every day (note: the photo of the Sistine Chapel is not mine).

 

St. Peter’s Basilica

Leaving the chapel we entered St. Peter’s Basilica. It is the largest in the world. The original church was built in 319-326 AD, but the present church was built in 1504. It took 120 years to complete! When Michelangelo was 73, he started designing the dome of the church, the largest in the world. As we walked through the church, we saw the famous Pieta sculpture of Mary holding the crucified Jesus. This was the only sculpture completed by Michelangelo. We also saw the remains of a few Popes who earned “sainthood” after their deaths. Leaving the church we entered Vatican Square. It is a large gathering place in front of the church itself. We enjoyed about an hour of free time here for lunch.

 

Appian Way

After getting back on our bus (at the cool underground bus depot), we drove outside the walls of Rome to the actual Appian Way. Paul would have used this ancient road that dates back to as early as 312 BC. Paul walked 170 miles of this road into Rome, beginning at Puteoli (where his ship landed after the shipwreck at Malta). We read from Acts 28 and consider the journey of Paul to Rome and the new and trying experiences that awaited him. Yet he was “not ashamed of the Gospel” (Romans 1:16) as we continued to serve out the last years of his life for Christ! From this ancient road, we walked back to the bus.

 
“Our first full day here in Rome was wonderful! We started with the Vatican City and Sistine Chapel, followed by walking on the Appian Way (like Paul did). It was incredible to realize Paul used this same stretch of Roman road. He was bold to share his faith in this city and not ashamed in doing so (Romans 1:16).”
St. Peter's Rome Italy Tour 2023 John DeLancey

St. Paul’s Church Outside the Walls

Out last stop of the day was to the St. Paul’s Church Outside the Walls. The church originally goes back to 330 AD. It was rebuilt many times. A fire in 1823 destroyed it, but it was rebuilt shortly later in 1827. By tradition, Paul was buried here. The traditional hand cuffs that bound Paul are also displayed here. 267 Popes are also displayed here all around the sanctuary. The church is owned and maintained by Vatican City.

On our way back to the hotel we past by St. John’s Lateran Church (formerly called Church of our Savior). This was the very first official church, built in 313 AD (St. Peter’s Cathedral was built in 319-326 AD). Up through the 14th century AD, all the Popes lived in the adjacent building next to the church. The church was later redone in the 1500s. The new Pope always comes here and is appointed the Bishop of Rome here.  Because of the church being the bishop center, it is viewed as the most sacred of all Catholic Churches around the world. Twenty two Popes are buried here.

We also past by the Sacred Steps. As a monk, Martin Luther climbed these steps on his knees, trying to merit forgiveness. It is believed that Helena brought the 28 steps from Jerusalem. The steps are to believed to be used by Jesus went brought before Pontius Pilate.

We returned back to our hotel at about 6:15 p.m. Following another more fancy served dinner, many in the group walked to the see the Colosseum at night. It was a great first day here in Rome!

 

Day 13 – Friday, September 22: Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia, Mamertine Prison, Forum, Colosseum, Catacombs

Vatican Rome Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey</p>
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Pieta St. Peter's Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Peter's Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Paul's Outside the Walls Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Peter's Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Peter's Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
Appian Way Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey
St. Paul's Outside the Walls Italy tour 2023 John DeLancey

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