“My job is to awaken the soul into the soul realm, so you can have heaven while you’re on earth.” John-Roger, DSS.
Rome, Italy | Day 15 | September 29
We say our goodbyes to Milan, Italy as we board one of the fastest trains in Italy. We travel on the Frecciarossa high-speed train which can reach speeds of 250 miles per hour, as we make our way to Rome, Italy.
Rome was not built in one day. I have heard this phrase over and over, and upon arriving in Rome, the reality of this phrase is true. The grandeur and size of the buildings are like nothing I have ever seen below. It is a wonder how all this was built.
As we arrive in Rome, we take a quick stop at our hotel, The St. Regis. As we walk through the doors of this hotel, we are greeted with the most glorious high ceiling lobby that is so astounding, with every feature of artwork displayed correctly, a stunning chandelier and marble floors everywhere.
We take a few moments to check if our rooms are ready before we head out on our first day of touring Rome. Today is our journey through the Vatican. The Vatican City is a city-state surrounded by Rome, Italy, and is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s home to the Pope and treasure upon treasure of iconic art and architecture. It is the largest, richest and most splendid museum in the world.
The Vatican has many tours available which include the Chapel, Vatican Museum, and St. Peter’s. The Vatican and St. Peters is indeed a wonder to see. It is so grand and spectacular that it leaves you speechless. St. Peter’s is an amazing structure. One can walk to the top of the basilica which gives you an amazing view of the city.
The Museums display works from the immense collection built up by the Popes throughout the centuries including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. The Museums contain roughly 70,000 works of which 20,000 are on display. The museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century. There are 45 galleries to walk through, before arriving at the Sistine Chapel. The chapel is found in the Apostolic Palace, which is the official residence of the Pope and is where the Papal conclave elects the new Popes. The chapel is famous for its frescoed ceiling with Michelangelo’s Last Judgement. The tour ends with the extraordinary St. Peter’s Basilica, which was designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini. St Peter’s is one of the most renowned works of Renaissance architecture and remains one of the largest churches in the world. Inside you can admire Michelangelo’s extraordinary statue Pietà, Bernini’s bronze Baldacchino (canopy), and the Throne of Saint Peter.
After our stunning visit to the Vatican, we head to the St. Regis to gather together for a group dinner. It has been a long day of travel and touring. Some head to their rooms to retire and a small group of us get a second wind and head out to do some evening touring. We visit the Trevi Fountain, one of the largest Baroque fountains in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world. Many of us throw a coin in the water, a famous tradition shared by those who live here. The Fountain is one of the most spectacular fountains I have ever seen.
Our next stop is the Spanish Steps. The steps are a set of steps that climb a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. The monumental stairway of 135 steps was built with French diplomat Étienne Gueffier’s bequeathed funds of 20,000 scudi. The stairway was designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi.
It is very late, but the nightlife in Rome is in full bloom at 11 pm. The streets are full of couples, families, kids and all folks enjoying the evening Rome life. Time to get some rest for tomorrow’s activities.
In Loving Service
Love and Light Julie Lurie
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Touring Photos by David Sand
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Join Us in Planting Light Columns wherever you are and Light up the World together.
A bus takes us out of the Alps and into Milan, and then a couple of days later a train takes us to Rome. The train ride is more of a shared experience than the bus. People move around and connect more. A bus pushes through space; a train is pulled. It’s no wonder that J-R uses the term “the midnight train” to describe the Traveler’s pulling of souls through the inner realms while the body sleeps. (It’s not called the midnight bus.)
I like to get shots of people sleeping on trains. In addition to our physical trajectory through the Italian countryside, we’re traveling spiritually within a Traveler that’s also pulling us along in its greater orbit. It’s orbits within orbits, wheels within wheels, with the sleeping body as the only still point, eyes closed and inner gaze directed to its own impalpable spiral. Our small number of train rides are lines of demarcation on the trip, big jumps of levels on our inner/outer journey. We’re out of the Alps now and moving into a world that orbits around a different point, a lowland world of cities and activity. Now I have to find peace inside, and maybe in art and architecture, instead of having it served to me so readily from every direction in the mountains.
Milan is a modern industrial city, center of the fashion world, but its real center for me is Leonardo’s Last Supper. It’s fitting that our bus can’t take us all the way to the spot where the Last Supper sleeps on our metaphorical Traveler train—a nondescript little church—and that we walk there in the darkness. It’s a few blocks’ walk in the cool night, and there’s a hush in the group as though we’re pilgrims on the way a holy relic—which we are. We step into the world of the Last Supper through a climate-controlled double-door system where a door opens in front of us only when a door closes behind us, so the delicate artwork is uncontaminated by modern air and variations of humidity. It feels like entering a time machine. We walk into an older, rarefied world– a large, dark empty room with only the painting illuminated, high up on the wall so we have to tilt our heads up like we’re looking up at a sun that’s been lassoed closer to our world for a short visit.
We have the blessing of being the only group on this night tour. It feels like everyone is trying to drink it in, an all-too-short shotgunning of otherworldly beauty and harmony that they may see only a once, or a few times, during their lifetime. For me it’s pilgrimage #2, and even better than the first time. It’s as though every cell of my body relaxes and opens up like a field of flowers feeling the sun. I can even see the painting in my imagination later on and get that same feeling of celestial light entering the world.
Then it’s on to a train to Rome the next day, still carrying the sun in our heads from the Last Supper into the very stylish St. Regis hotel. Then a bus takes us to a Vatican tour, on and on through hallways of packed tourists from every part of the world, and so many rows of sculptures, paintings, maps, mosaics, artifacts and images from floor to ceiling that I start considering joining an iconoclastic religion like Islam to flush the thousands of images of God and gods out of my mind. But at St. Peter’s I want to become a Roman Catholic as I glide through the golden grandeur. At the Sistine ceiling we have an even more extreme neck-craning experience than we had at the Last Supper, as we wind through the mob like a herd of crazed sheep, bumping blindly into our neighbors while looking straight up at the fantastic world overhead. It seems fitting that the setting for Michelangelo’s dizzying explosion of divine power and earthy transcendence resembles an abattoir-gone-mad–so different from our quiet nighttime pilgrimage to the Last Supper.
Then we return to the sanctuary of our hotel for an evening dinner. In a blessing by John after dinner he talks about the Light work that we were doing on the Vatican tour, and how some of what was cleared still lingers. A lot gets cleared in his blessing, and then in a sweetly poetic blessing by Leigh. Tomorrow we see the pope.