Tuesday, May 27, 2008

San Giovanni In Laterano

Today we went to San Giovanni In Laterano, located southeast of the Colosseum. Walking up to the church, it is shaped almost like an L, and has a large obelisk outside and two twin crosses above one of the entrances. When you walk in, the first thing you notice is the ceiling of the church. It has an unbelievably detailed amount of designs in mostly gold, with some other red and blue coloring. One of the first things I saw in the church surprised me, because I haven’t seen it in any other church yet, was the Eye of Providence. This symbol is the eye on the pyramid on the back of our dollar bill, and represents the eye God. The main alter in the church is only allowed to be used in mass by the pope once a year. The sculptures in this church were incredible, especially by Borromini who did all of the angels throughout all the archways of both sides of the church. Berninni also did a few works in this church, but both artists were restricted with money and time.

This surprisingly was not one of my favorite churches at all. I am a big fan of the massive amounts of marble, and detail throughout the whole church. And although the ceiling in particular and the chapels off to the side and some sculptures were very impressive and specific, the walkways along the sides of the church were very bland. They had no marble pillars, no painted ceilings, nothing extravagant or different. I understand why it is like this; the church was rebuilt in a much later time than the other churches we have come across. I didn’t mind these attributes, because it was an interesting change of pace, it just wasn’t one of my favorite places. One thing inside the church I did love was the statues of the twelve apostles. In particular, the statue of Bartholomew; I did a paper on him in high school and knew that he was filleted and murdered, and the sculpting of him portrays this well. Also, the sculptures atop the outside of the church were very impressive.

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