Not too long ago I was for fortunate enough to visit Rome. It was unexpected, fairly short notice for an near OCD planner like me, and exciting enough that I really haven’t made a big deal out of it fearing my friends and colleagues might poison my coffee when I wasn’t looking.
Once in a life time opportunity.
Let’s talk about the door. This door. The Holy Door.
Ignore the little red flag, it was what our tour guide used to keep us from losing each other at the Vatican in the midst of a squillion other people. This particular tour was my last of four tours over three days during my visit. My brain was full, I was tired, a little hungry, dreaming of another cappuccino, and maybe a bit homesick. As awesome as my trip was, it would have been that much more wonderful to have shared it with my family.
This door is at the front entrance to St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Because when you get the chance to go to Rome of course you are going to check out the Vatican. Sistine chapel-saw it! Swiss guards-saw them too. The doors they lock behind the cardinals during the conclave-off the bucket list. And this:
The Pope lives here. Right down those stairs.
Naturally, I’m certain that had he been home I would have been able to visit with Papa Francesco and as someone who is not Catholic, talk about how I think he’s doing a great job trying to be a positive catalyst for healthy change in the Catholic church. Serious kudos to him in my book. I’m not going to wade any further into religion and politics than that except to say, he was not home. But cool picture of his “front door”.
Back to the Holy Door. I remember the tour guide talking about it, but didn’t really appreciate the history and significance of the big ornate panels. These doors are normally sealed shut on the inside by mortar and cement and can only be opened during Jubilee years by the Pope. A jubilee year (or Holy Year), according to the Catholic tradition is celebrated every 25 years or so, going back as far as 1300. At this point I want to apologize to all of my friends who understand the Levitical concept of Jubilee occurring every 50th year with slaves freed, financial debts forgiven, and sins pardoned. And also to those adhering to the Catholic faith where Jubilee involves pilgrimages as well. I’m almost 100% certain that I said something wrong in each of the past two sentences, so please just hear my heart for unity and good will, and offer of respect, and lets move on shall we?
Papa Francesco as he is called in Rome, Pope Francis in our part of the world has declared 8 December 2015 to 20 November 2016 to be a special year of Jubilee focused on the theme of mercy, only 15 years after the last Jubilee, the “Great Jubilee” called by Pope John Paul II. This photo of that door was taken in the weeks leading up to the Dec 8 opening. How cool is that? A few weeks later and I likely would not have gotten close to the Vatican for the huge crowds, but I was just in time to see the preparations.
Above the door are some marble plates, which I really can’t read except to decipher Pope John Paul II’s name because I never studied Latin. I took tons of pictures of Latin inscriptions, mainly because my very intelligent daughter got a A in her university Latin class. I figure one of these days I can see if we can read anything from any of them.
So that’s my story about this photo and about this door. I loved visiting the Vatican, I had no idea about all of the fine art that resides there. It was more to me than I had imagined: beauty, culture, faith, history, hope, and inspiration. Visiting the inside of St Peter’s I was profoundly moved by the voices lifted in song during the service that was going on. We were permitted to visit but to do so in respectful silence while others worshiped. What a privilege.
That’s a story for another day.