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A message from the Manse

Dear Friends,

When I found out that I was headed to Rome, I had few expectations! Wow, the place is somewhere to put on your list if you have not ‘done’ Rome already.

Darren and I arrived at the hotel and popped up to the roof terrace with views over the rooftops of Rome on our first day. That evening we walked into the Basilica of Santa Maria Magiorre, then wound our way to the famous Piazza del Popolo and back to the hotel via the beautiful Spanish Steps below the church of the Trinita Dei Monti. . . where we strangely arrived at the top to walk down the steps to the floodlit water fountain in the Piazza de Spagna below. The next day we saw the Michelanglo’s statue of Moses and then the architectural phenomenon of the Colosseum, and the ancient Palatino hill with all the very real ruins of ancient Roman temples!

It was so lovely to walk in this beautiful city and in the footsteps of history. Our tour guides helped us to imagine the times of before Christ when Roman Emperors considered themselves to be gods. We were able to sense how Emperors like Caligula and Nero lived and also looked down upon the Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus) where they persecuted the early Christians who did not worship their egos in the first and second centuries.

We saw the Arch of the Emperor Constantine. Unlike the brutal emperors before him, Constantine thought that Christians were decent. Christians were often good public servants who were loyal and faithful. (They did not steal or cheat, were kind to slaves and not after their own gain.) Emperor Constantine legalised Christianity in 312 AD and the Christians were no longer fodder for the lions, nor the victims of more crucifixions!

I could fill a year’s worth of Kirk News with our three-day trip. Rome has so much extravagant art and beauty. Every building, church, statue, piazza, tells a story of its time or period. Dotted around the city are many obelisks from ancient Egypt too. So as well as having a sense of life (long long before) Jesus came into the world, there is also so much to learn from the buildings and art from the times after he had come to be part of our life in the world.

The greatest surprise was the Vatican. The Pope at some point seemed to assume the power of an Emperor, deeming him someone who was to be worshipped as divine. There was often conflict between Emperor and Pope. If you go into the Vatican, you will not only see the gorgeous art from the Christian Catholic faith. Many ancient treasures, priceless artefacts from all over the ancient Roman Empire now belong to the ‘nation state’ called the Vatican. You will see statues of the gods Apollo, Zeus, Bacchus, Diana, etc. You see busts of Caesar and Hadrian as well as tapestries and maps of the Empire as it was known then. My favourite of the treasures was Emperor Nero’s giant bath made out of very expensive marble from Egypt. In those days that marble was worth more than gold!

Whilst I do not understand how all these riches ended up in the Vatican, I am glad they are being kept, curated and cared for. And of course, we threw our coins into the Trevi Fountain one evening. (Picture top right) So I hope to go back one day and see a little more.

God bless, meantime,


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