Tag Archives: reliquary

Wednesday in Rome – More Apostles

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.

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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:

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The body of St. Bartholomew (or parts of it) lies in a Roman bathtub that serves as the base of the central altar:

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The eastern iconography at the altar reminds us that he is the patron saint of Armenia.

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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.

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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:

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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:

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Here is Bartholomew, holding his skin:

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And for the folks back home, here is Thomas, with his carpenter’s square:

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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:

Goodbye Lisbon, Hello Sintra

8/24 – we are in Lisbon for one more day. What should we see? Not too far away is the Igreja Sao Roque, or the Church of Saint Rocco. This is the oldest Jesuit church in Portugal, and perhaps the most ornate. At the time it was being built (1700s), the Portuguese explorers were bringing more gold and jewels home from Brazil and the new world than anyone knew what to do with. Many of the riches ended up here. Here is one of the large gold candlesticks, over six feet tall:

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Here is a bone of Sao Roque himself, in a gold reliquary:

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This church has so many saint parts, that there are two reliquary chapels on either side of the main altar, one for male bones, and one for female bones:

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If you are not familiar with Saint Rocco, he is always depicted as having sores on his leg, and is accompanied by a dog offering him a loaf of bread:image

We are staying at the Lisbon Amazing Hostel, so every morning we meet different people at breakfast. Today we met a Chinese couple who are going to grad school in Milan, and have come to Portugal for a summer holiday. They are getting Masters degrees in business. It turns out that David (his chosen Anglican name) already owns several factories, and the degree will help them to run the companies better. As we ate toast and jam, he asked us what type of vegetable oil was the healthiest – he was thinking of starting another company to import healthy oil to China! We marveled at his ingenuity.

As an antidote to the noise and crowds of Lisbon, we are taking the train 30 minutes west to the delightful town of Sintra, where we will spend several days walking through gardens and castles before resuming our Caminho. The New York Times featured a travel section on Sintra just last week, so we fear it is no longer an undiscovered idyll, but we shall see!