10/29 – yesterday we walked to sights that were near our B and B (near the Roma Termini train station). Today our goals are farther away, so we had to navigate the bus system. We prefer to travel by Metro if we can, as the routes are fixed, and the maps and signs make it easy to identify where to get off. Buses are another matter. We can’t tell where we’re going, and are never sure if we are at a stop or just a traffic light. Our smartphone has been a godsend on this trip – we just program the GPS, and it tells us when to jump off!
Our first destination is Tiber, a tiny little island right in the middle of the city.
On the island is the church of San Bartolomeo all’Isolla, which houses the remains of St. Bartholomew (also referred to as Nathaniel in the book of John). Here is the church, and the statue of Bartholomew outside:
The body of St. Bartholomew (or parts of it) lies in a Roman bathtub that serves as the base of the central altar:
The eastern iconography at the altar reminds us that he is the patron saint of Armenia.
Bartholomew is said to have been flayed, so is often shown in art holding a tanner’s knife.
We hopped on another bus to get to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the oldest basilica in Rome, dating back to the year 193. This place will knock your socks off, and my pix won’t begin to do it justice. Here is the main door – even from across the street, the building was too huge to capture.
We are here to see the skulls of St. Peter and St. Paul, which found their way here around the year 900. They are the focal point of the main sanctuary. The golden reliquary for Paul, holding a sword, is on the left, and Peter, holding the keys to heaven, is on the right:
This sanctuary also displays life size marble statues of the 12 Apostles, leaving out Matthias (everyone leaves out poor Judas), and showing Paul as the twelfth apostle. Paul wasn’t on our initial list, but we added him on. The statues show each Apostle with his emblem. Here are Peter and Paul:
Here is Bartholomew, holding his skin:
And for the folks back home, here is Thomas, with his carpenter’s square:
This church also boasts the marble steps that Jesus walked up when he came before Pilate. These have been covered over in wood to preserve the blood stains on them. We didn’t get the steps, but here are a few more images of a beautiful place: