Archive for the ‘The Vatican’ Category

” sigh “

Hello !  RenxKyoko Iglesias here !

I’ve been staring at a white, blank screen for hours now. I am still deciding  whether I will post something  about my job – hunting,  or go ahead and write about  my 2014  vacation in the Philippines.  I have tons of pictures  all ready to be posted here,  but  I don’t feel like writing about  a country,(  it does not  matter that this is where I was born, and came from) that tolerates, approves of ,  and seemingly delights  in   extra-judicial  killings of ” ALLEGED” drug pushers.  I’m sure my Filipino blogger friends would tell me I have no right to criticize  the country because 1. I am not a Filipino  2.  I  have no idea what they are going through  living in  a country with acute drug problem.

 

I do understand that. I know  the country has become the dumping ground of  all sorts of drugs  ( they call  one drug shabu  )……. Why is the Philippines the dumping ground , you ask ?  Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and other South East Asian countries have extremely strict laws against possession. It’s death penalty  . The Philippines, on the other hand,  is less strict, not to mention law enforcers are extremely corrupt.  I’m sure the authorities know exactly who the drug lords are .  They are untouchable, and, obviously  we know why.

I always write about the Philippines and its people in glowing terms. They are naturally gentle, generous,  happy, smiling people, and this is true.  But not at this time,  and unfortunately,  not for 6 years.  They just elected a rogue president who disrespects  just about anybody… President Obama,  the Pope, and Jesus Christ  Himself. And  I am  not making this up.

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Random photo. (  just because I mentioned The Pope ,and there has to be a picture, right ?)

Above is just a random pic of myself at the Vatican Museum. I think its one of  the best  pic ever taken during our  tour. I am exactly in the middle of the museum hallway,  and equidistant from the 2 walls. It’s true. I checked it.  Maybe there was divine intervention when my Mom took the pic.

To continue……

Oh, we are not entirely disconnected  from  the country. My family still own more properties in the Philippines  than the average Filipino, and we pay  taxes , without fail.  We therefore  have a reason  to pay close attention to  what’s going on there.

To my Filipino blogger friends  who have declared  their  heartfelt approval of this president’s  behavior…. I am sorry  to have a different opinion. I just hope and pray  this does not become the standard by which the country elects its officials.

I am sad and a bit demoralized.

This is all for now. Thank you for reading.

Please check out my manga/anime blogsite HERE    http://2megaworthitwordpresscomblog.wordpress.com/

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My Euro Travel Pt. 19, Burgos/Bilbao, Spain

Hola ! Renxkyoko Iglesias  aqui.

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This is my 19th  travel post, and maybe the 3rd to the last.  I really  need to get this done quick  because I’m starting to lose the memories. All I have left now are impressions.

By way of introduction, let me write down my random thoughts… as  usual..

* sips coffee*

The abdication of the Pope…….  I’m a Roman Catholic,  so it’s a given I should be  interested in what’s going on at the Vatican. To be honest , I’m not  interested  at all. What I’m really, really concerned about    is  the abysmally  low number of  young men  who  have  the calling for  priesthood.  The average age of priests  now is 65,  and when they retire , there’s no  guarantee there’s a priest who will take-over  the position.  There are even Catholic parishes here in the US where Episcopal priests have been tasked to ” say ” the Mass in the absence of a parish priest. Why Episcopal , you ask.  Well, the Episcopalian Church is  Protestant, yet Catholic.  It was actually once called The American Catholic Church, and it’s Preamble states  “ it’s a constituent member of the Anglican Communion,  a Fellowship within the One, Holy, Catholic Church….”

It’s a no brainer to  know the one reason why men don’t enter the priesthood….. the vow of celibacy.  It’s almost unnatural to  suppress the primal animal instict to mate, most especially with men. So, as a member of the Church, do I approve of  married priests ?  I’m a tree hugging, bleeding heart social  liberal, but I’m not a solid , hard core one.  Some of my views are, in fact,  pretty conservative,  and that includes my view on celibacy.  I don’t know.  Don’t hate me, but I think I would  cringe at the thought of  a married  priest saying  Mass in front  of me just had a blow job or kinky sex  a few hours  before . * Ren, you pervert, perish the thought! *  So, what’s the solution?  Ordain women into priesthood. I think women can withstand life without sex .

By the way, the ” bad” priests are pedophiles , not gay or straight priests,  except that Cardinal from England who had to resign … he had made numerous compromising overtures to  adult seminarians….  * shakes head *   The Catholic hierarchy should not cover up the crimes of these pedophiles.  Sick bastards…. the pedophiles, I mean.  This is just my opinion, at the moment.

Oh, wait…… I’d like to tell you something. My mother has a relative who is  an ex-priest.  It was the Pope who ordained him when the Pope went to the Philippines  years and years ago.  He became a parish priest, but then, the parish had a beautiful secretary.  They fell in love.  He left the priesthood and married the girl…. and  now have 4  children .  Lucky girl. I wish I could find an ex – monk. * sigh *

Now on to Burgos and Bilbao, Spain.

Burgos and Bilbao were our last stops in Spain. Both are located  in the northern parrt of Spain. Bilbao is the capital of the province of Bilbao , and the autonomous region of the Basque country.

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.Above 2 photos were taken from the hotel. In case you haven’t noticed it, all the buildings  are colored orange. The only one with a different color, red, is McDonald’s. This is the newer part of Bilbao. Bilbao is a nice place but it’s not a popular tourist destination. Funny thing though, Bilbao is  popular in our household.  Mom always adds Chorizo de Bilbao to her Philippine dishes., such as Cocido, Pochero, spaghetti  and  all sorts of soups and stews.

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.I wonder what they call this in Bilbao….. just Chorizo?  They don’t make this in Bilbao, though. It ‘s a Philippine  sausage  concocted by some guy from Bilbao. He he … well, that’s true.

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.Above photo is the Guggenheim Museum. The building was designed by American Frank Gehry and is made of glass, stone and titanium. We didn’t get to see what was  in there. We had lunch and just walked around  the vicinity .

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.There’s one  important thing about Bilbao and the Basque region.. It is an autonomous region of Spain… kind of separate but equal  thing ……. giving an autonomous status to a place is actually the next step to independence, but of course, the Spanish government won’t allow that.  Majority of the   Basque people though vehemently  want  independence……. that leads  some to engage in ” terroristic” “activities. Calling it terrorism  depends on whose side you’re on, of course.  And people there don’t want to be called Spaniards and  to refer to the Basque region as Spain.  (  like Barcelona ). In fact, we saw a loooong line of cars waiting to be inspected at the border between Spain and France.

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.Dinner at the hotel

On to Burgos…..

Burgos is in the n0rthern part of Spain, and is the capital of Castille.  Burgos has  a lot of medieval structures  that are well preserved.  Burgos though is noted for it’s number one  inhabitant …. EL CID, the National  Hero of Spain.  His war exploits , and his victories were legendary.  Please  google him.  Oh, and there was an old movie about El Cid, starring Charlton Heston and Sophia Loren.

Below is the statue of El Cid. Actually , it was the Moors  who called him  that name, from Arabic wotd Seid, meaning  ” lord”.

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Oh, that’s Ruben, our tour manager.

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.The Burgos Cathedral , built in 1221, and is a Unesco World Heritage site.  Gothic style architecture.

Picture below is from Wikipedia.

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This  castle  was built in 840 AD.

That’s it for Bilbao and Burgos. To be honest, I felt   more history vibes  in Burgos  than in Bilbao.  Oh, and I got to eat Spain’s famous blood sausage,  Burgos Morcilla.  I liked it better than the one I had in London. Also, I did write before that one of my favorite Philippine dishes was  a blood dish too.  It’s an acquired taste, folks.

I think I missed one place in Spain. The problem is, I have no idea  where that is…. there’s a bunch of photos  in the folder, and I’m sure they’re from  another place in Spain.  I’m so lame. I really need to hurry up and get this done.  I’m even forgetting the names of places I’ve been to. Yikes !

I guess I’ll just post the photos  on my next post, which is France.

This is all for now. Good day, and stay cool. PEACE !

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European Trip Part 8, The Vatican

Hi ! ! ! Renxkyoko Iglesias here !

.I posted that picture above because that’s what I feel right now. I just  watched the presidential debate on foreign policy  between Pres. Obama and Mitt Romney and I believe Pres. Obama did a great job of presenting his policies.

You know, I went with my sister to Reno, Nevada as members of Obama’s volunteer workers . Though  I’m from California, ground  game  is not needed here anymore as  California is in his pocket already, so we have to go to places where assistance is needed.  At least Nevada is nearby… some volunteers went as far as Colorado , Wisconsin and Iowa.  And by the way, we are volunteers… we spent our own money,wages we lost were not something to sneeze at, and  we   were not paid a single cent. Not to mention that we   had to grin and bear it when yelled at.  I used to be a wimp and easily get teary-eyed, but I learned fast. Politics is so cruel. I couldn’t afford to be onion-skinned.  Not now, when so much are at stake.  There are already so many  whackos and nutheads  in Congress, and Senate, as it is. Who would have thought that someone running for a Senate seat  would have  the gall and temerity  to  say that rape is God’s will, or another guy saying that there’s a legitimate rape and non- legitimate, that if a woman got pregnant, that is not legitimate, because, a woman who is legitimately being raped would have her system automatically shut down and  have  her eggs fight off the rapist’s sperm, implying that if she did get pregnant, she  relaxed during the act, and maybe had actually liked it? WTH ! Not to mention, Romney’s VP candidate actually  tried to legislate the definition of what rape is…. if no force is applied, then it’s not rape, even if there’s a gun pointed at the woman’s head.   Yeah, they’re who Mitt Romney is endorsing for the Senate seat. I cringe at the thought of this kind of  people wearing  clown hats walking the august halls of Congress.  Oh, while I’m at it, no contraception pills, if these guys would have their way.    Sex is not for pleasure, only for procreation.  So , ladies, just put aspirin between your knees, as suggested, even if he’s your husband.  Rant over.

How ironic. This post is about The Vatican, the center of  my religion.  But I believe Catholicism is not about  how loud a person proclaims his love for God…. it’s how he treats a fellow human being who has less in life, the poor, and the meek. I cannot vote for people who would give more and more tax cuts to the already rich, and take away funds from Medicaid, practically all social nets of the poor, to make up for the difference.  Then they are the loudest in invoking the name of God. The hypocrisy is stunning.  PS I don’t like to associate either with a political party that is embraced by groups whose emblem is the SWASTIKA and KKK. That’s the bottomline for me.

Enough of  politics. Back to The Vatican and Rome. This is my third post on The Vatican and I promise, the last, so, please indulge me on this. Uhm, I say The Vatican, not Rome. Sorry.  And please forgive my rant.  T.T

Above is just one of the numerous statues lining the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica.

And below is a pinkish obelisk, right in the middle of St. Peter’s Square. It was built by an Egyptian Pharao around 2000 BC ( 4000 years ago), and was hauled out of Egypt in about 40 BC by Roman Emperor Caligula, and erected in his circus (  the circus was most probably some kind of amusement park  near the area of St. Peter’s Square , where early Christians’ tortures were done as entertainment for Emperor Nero… yes, that Nero…..   it was also the place where St. Peter was crucified ). It was moved to the center of St. Peter’s Square in 1600.

Main entrance flanked by 2 massive columns. Quite overwhelming…

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.The photo above is like the anteroom , outside the main church’s  interior. Above that photo is the main door to the church. I don’t know why it’s closed. We must have entered through another door.

.Below is  the main altar.

Someone has to correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the tomb of St. Peter , the Apostle is underneath that altar.

The one above is courtesy of Wikipedia. …. just to give you an idea how amazing the place is. Upon entering the basiliuca, the first thing people see is the Papal Altar with the canopy designed by Bernini. There is a wide aisle from the entrance , to the middle ending at the altar,  and off the aisle  are numerous  smaller altars.

Eh. I look so stiff here.  I wonder why. He he he.

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.I don’t need to describe each photo . Every inch of the interior of the basilica is  so richly decorated  I’ve run out of words to describe each intricate  detail.

.To be honest, I find that photo above a bit creepy, that’s the bronze statue of St. Peter,  and together with the photo below, the embalmed body of Pope John Paul if I’m not mistaken,I’d be frightened to death  if I’d suddenly  find myself alone in the church,  company of holy men, notwithstanding. The name engraved in the coffin is that of Pope Innocent, but it was replaced by the remains of Pope John Paul in 2005.

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Below is Michaelangelo’s Pieta.  There’s a glass wall that protects the sculpture from the crowd.  It’s located near the main entrance, on the left.  It’s truly breathtaking.  The first photo is from Wikepedia. The second one is mine. I want to show you the photo without that tiny bit of reflection.

.Do you see the balconies in the picture? The one in the middle is where the Pope stands on to bless the flock.

.The Swiss Guards.

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Oh, the sky is so blue ! !

A panoramic view of St. Peter’s Square, courtesy of Wikipedia.

So, that’s it. . What an amazing experience !  I hope you enjoyed looking at the photos.  If you can, just once in your lifetime, I urge you to go and see  The Vatican.

For some reason, I feel sad to post the last of my Vatican tour.

Well, good day to all , Valete, and  Pax.   Rome is next.

European Trip Part 7, part b, The Vatican and Rome

Hello, there !  Renxkyoko Iglesias here !

How many times have I started a post  with these words? According to WP, more than 274 times.  With just 1 or 2 posts a month, I don;t know where WP got that figure. Okay, I think  I know…. it’s from where I first started blogging here, in October , 2010.  And  I did post almost everyday back then…… mindless, stupid posts, like so…. ” Hi, Renxkyoko Iglesias here ! It’s 2 AM right now and guess what I’m doing ? Doing the laundry , that’s what. So, how’s your day ?  Tut, tut, goodbye ! ”   And the one below is the worst…. by the way, it’s dated June 2010…. that was written on another blogsite that was transferred , lock, stock and barrel to WP.

Posted June 28, 2010 by renxkyoko in Uncategorized. 2 Comments | Edit

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by pHiO_cHaN on June 28, 2010 at 5:12 am  edit

    and this too! what entry is this? @___@

    Reply

  2. Posted by renxkyoko on June 28, 2010 at 5:54 am  edit

    (^__^)”;;  Don’t know.

No wonder  that for a loooong time, I only had  2 or 3 loyal and captured readers, lol. Who would read such crap ? The first time I saw another commenter  on my blog, aside from my loyalists, of course,  I was like, ” Waaaaa ! They can read my blog ? ” All the while, I thought that was my private space .  I was such a dumb-belle…. still one, though, he he he.

Well, then, consider the above   my anniversary post.

Moving on……

This is the second part of my Part 7 tour of Rome and The Vatican.  There’s just no way I can convey the richness of  Rome’s and  The Vatican’s history  with just one post.  Rome ruled for 3,500 years after all. Also, The Vatican Museum contains the biggest collection of  the antiquities.   Don’t worry though, I won’t overload you with images, which  some of you might even  find boring.

.As I wrote before, the Vatican Museum has numerous  rooms, about 55 ,  one of which is the photo above, The Chariot Room.

.That’s Isis , Goddess of Fertility, and those protuberances  are not fruits hanging on her chest… those are breasts.  Ah, gravity has taken its toll.

.I hope this is the last nude statue that I’m going to post here, but I assure you there’s no shortage of nude statues in my cache……..Above  photo is a sweet sculpture of father and son, isn’t it? Actually, no. The title of the sculpture is Temptation of the Grapes, and somehow, temptation connotes something  ominous.

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.There’s only one word that can describe the photos above. …. MAJESTIC.

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Above is the Gallery of Maps . Check out the frescoes on the ceiling. They are flat paintings but look 3 D. This is also the hallway that leads to the Sistine Channel.

A bit blurry, but I’m in the photo, he he he. Gotta be  in the photo, y’ know.

Old topography of Italy showing  the Vatican’s territories.  Nothing in the maps are accurate for obvious reasons, but Pope Gregory Xlll did introduce the Gregorian Calendar, the calendar that we use today. That’s pretty accurate.

Can we just look and admire ? I’ve run out of words to describe the magnificence of this Museum.  The place is simply overwhelming.

.That;s the Gallery of Tapestries. Check out the 3 D frescoes on the ceiling. They are actually flat paintings. Do you notice the room is dark?  Sunlight will damage the delicate tapestries, so we were requested to minimize the use of flash in our cameras.

.I secretly took this photo.  In fact, we were requested not to use our cameras, at all. Anyway, about the photo….. This is obviously a tapestry of The Last Supper. Do you notice the food on the table? There’s fish, and bread, but what do you see in front of  Jesus? Doesn’t it look like a pig?  Jews don’t eat pork, and Jesus was a Jew. So, what message  was the tapestry  maker trying to convey here?  Was he trying to deny the Jewishness of Jesus ? Is there a subliminal messaging that went  on here ?  Years after His death, there was a split among His followers and disciples on whether to retain the Jewish laws and traditions, or to separate from them and form a new religion that centers on the teachings of Christ. This is ironic because Jesus Himself never left his Jewish Religion.  Well, I’m not going into this. Suffice it to say that, St. Peter ( to whom Jesus has entrusted the building of the Church….. ” Simon, you are Peter, and on this rock, you will build my Church…..”) is considered the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, declared  just 30 years after the death of  Jesus. His successor was Pope Linus, ensuring that succession of Popes should be constant, and should always reconize  St. Peter, one of the 12 Apostles, as the first.

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.I’m not sure but I think above photo is the official emblem of  The Vatican.

The photo above is the exit , out of the Vatican Museum . Next is St. Peter’s Basilica. Okay, here’s the truth. The Vatican Museum  has 55 rooms. The truth is, I don’t really know how many rooms I’ve visited.  One thing I’m sure of, we didn’t get  to see the famous Raphael Rooms, also called Stanze di Raphael, which are actually papal rooms, the private living quarters of the Popes. . There are 4 smaller rooms in the Stanze.  Raphael painted the walls of these 4 rooms. What is amazing is that , Pope Julius ll commissioned Raphael to paint the walls the same time he ” commanded” Michaelangelo to paint  the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. It’s mindboggling to imagine 2 of the greatest artists , Michaelangelo and Raphael working  almost side by side.. Also, I say ” commanded ” because Michaelangelo resisted  and had to remind the Pope again and again that   he was not a painter, but  a sculptor, and   thus, wouldn’t do a good job of it. He was also worried that the dome of the Sistine Chapel (  that he himself designed ) which was then simultaneously being constructed, would  fall on him.  These 2 artists’  works mark the peak of the Rennaisance art in Europe. By the way, the difference between the two as far as their work at the Vatican was concerned was that, Raphael relied heavily on his assistants ( in fact Raphael died prematurely and it was his assistants who finished the job ) whereas M did it all by himself, alone. Not to mention the fact that M painted lying flat  on his back, while Raphael painted normally, standing on his feet.

I don’t have photos of  Raphael wall frescoes, so apologies to Wikipedia for copying some of theirs and posting them here.

.The title of this fresco  is The School of Athens. Heraclitus ( which is actually a portrait of Michaelangelo) is the one seated on the stairs, in front, and leaning  on a block of marble. The two men standing prominently in the middle of the painting are  Plato and Aristotle. Pythagoras is on the left  writing on something , Euclid is the man on the right teaching a few students, Ptolemy is holding some kind of a sphere, the one lying in the middle of the stairs is Diogenes.

The Optional tour of The Vatican Museums which cost $ 65 per person included entry to the Sistine Chapel.  We were resquested again not to take any photos, and this time, there were quite a number of guards who saw to it the rule was being followed. I even saw a Japanese tourist who was secretly shooting a video being reprimanded by a rude guard . According to our tour guide, taking photos and videos are banned because Nippon  Television Network of Japan has sole copyright or exclusive  TV, video and photo rights to the Sistine Chapel. NTV financed the restoration of the chapel in 1990. The restoration took 20 years to finish.

I don’t want  to be melodramatic, but I was totally in awe. The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling  was one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, made by one of the greatest artist on the planet.  To be there and absorbing everything that I saw was quite a unique experience for me.  Just imagine,   surrounding  me were paintings by some of the greatest painters  in the world… Michaelangelo, Boticelli,  Roselli, among others.  The feeling was simply indescribable. Well, I guess it  was just me.  You know, I saw this Asian tourist ( pardon me, I’m Asian too ) having her photo taken in front of  Michaelangelo’s Pieta. She had a wide smile on her face, standing at an angle that was typical, and making a V – sign. O_O  I thought that V-sign was  an  inappropriate and  disrespectful gesture to make in a church, and in front of one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.  Darn, lady, this is not an amusement park.

About The Sistine Chapel……………..

The Chapel was originally built as a private chapel of  Pope Sixtus lV. He was also the one that commissioned Botticelli, Perugeni, et al, to do the wall frescoes that depicted the lives of Moses and Jesus. He died, and was succeeded by Pope Julius lV who urged Michaelangelo to do the ceiling. It was said that another painter recommended Michaengelo to Pope Juluis. The truth was, this painter was a relative of Raphael, who at that time was M’s arch rival and enemy. He knew that M was not a painter, and if, by chance, he accepted Pope Juluis’ job offer, he   wished M would fail, and he and his cousin Raphael could then  happily gloat over M’s failure. As expected, Michaelangelo resisted at first, but the Pope insisted and in fact dangled several  future  sculpturing  commissions as a kind of bribe.  Thanks to that painter’s malicious suggestion, the world got one of the greatest materpiece art of all time.  Michaelangelo was of course worried his work wouldn’t be that good. So what he did was to start painting on the ceiling closest to the main entrance. His rationale was , that area would be amateurish,  because  he knew his foray into  painting wouldn’t be that good at first, so to cover that up, he first  started painting on the  ceiling above the main entrance.  He figured that people entering the chapel would look first at the paintings in front, and  not above their heads where they would  have to crane their necks or tilt their heads  uncomfortably.  The last painting he did was on the wall behind the altar, The Last Judgement, which he thought was the best, and the first that people would see as they entered the chapel.

.Jesus is in the middle of the painting, and check out the man seated on a rock that is directly underneath Jesus’ image, the one on the right, and holding a soul that he’s about to drop into hell.  On my previous post, I wrote that Michaelangelo admired the Belevedere torso . That man’s image above is almost an imitation of the Belvedere torso.

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.Michaelangelo painted almost all of  the images nude.  Some Cardinals complained to the Pope… said it was immoral and   appropriate to be placed only in taverns and bath houses , and not in  such a sacred place. The Pope ignored their complaints. But later, when   Michaelangelo died, the private parts of the nude figures were painted over with some cloth. Check out  the photo above, and the main painting.  During the restoration process though, the restorers were charged to remove the paint -overs without damaging the original painting. So, what people see now are  nude human figures as originally painted.  The covers have been washed away. Too bad I couldn’t find any of the restored image.

* I suddenly have a vision of myself holding a pointer and  giving a lecture to a nearly empty hall *

* taps table with  pointer ” The picture below shows The Creation of Adam, one of the two most famous paintings in the world, rivaled only by Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

.It depicts God giving life to Adam, the life force of which emanates from his fingers. It contradicts the Biblical narrative of God breathing life into Adam. Michaengelo of course got away with so many things. In fact, he was commissioned to paint only 12 figures, those of the 12 apostles. M was appaled there would be such a lot of empty space on the ceiling, so the Pope gave him carte blanche on what he wanted to do. M decided to paint Biblical scenes since most of Jesus ‘ life had already been painted on the walls. He ended up painting 300 human figures.

Actually, the chapel is really small. It’s the Pope’s private chapel, where he meditates and prays in private, I guess. But nowadays, it’s the place where Cardinals gather to elect a new Pope., and where tourists can gawk and marvel at the paintings.

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.It’;s kind of dark in there, to be honest. But they’re just trying to protect the paintings from harsh light.

Well, I guess this is it . I’d like to inform you that I need a part C of  The Vatican and Rome. There are just so many things I  want to show and tell you.  Please pardon me . I need to show you St, Peter’s Basilica, and  Rome, so bear with me, okay. If you’re bored, it’;s okay, but I have to post my stuff here.

Good day to all, and PAX !

My European Trip 7 Rome, Italy & The Vatican

Heus  ! Here I am again, Renxkyoko Iglesias !

I’m  on the 7th post of my European trip.  I’m now in the great city of Rome and The Vatican.  But first, an introduction to The Vatican.  Very few of us know that The Vatican is a country that issues its own passports, is also  a city-state  ( like Singapore) and is considered the smallest country in the world, with a population of 1,000 ( about 100 of whom are Swiss   Guards ) that are mostly members of the Catholic clergy and a few non-clergy staff.  It is a walled city within the city of Rome, with a zero birthrate ( not surprising,  what with majority of the population practicing celibacy ), and area just 80 hectares. ( 198 acres)

My  photos of Rome and The Vatican   consist mostly of  art objects and religious statues.  The Vatican Museum is a treasure trove of ancient art, what we call the Antiquities. ( statues and paintings ). They are simply amazing . You know, when I saw Michaelangelo’s PIETA, my heart stopped for a second, literally. I mean, it  just…….. ” took my breath away. ”    Pardon me for  being melodramatic but  I really felt that way..

.There we are queieng to enter the Vatican Museum.

.There’s our Italian tour guide, the one who said I had a Roman nose.  Ha ha ha ! Look, she’s speaking to a recorder. Everyone was given this thing  that we hook ed around our ear so we could hear her even from  a distance and most importantly, if we got lost. That came in handy because I actually got lost at Versailles in France.

.That’s the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. That dome was designed by Michaelangelo.   I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants.  Anyone wearing a sleeveless shirt or a dress that shows the knees is banned from entering a Catholic Church in Italy …. oh,  and in Spain too. No shorts. They have a very strict dress code.

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.That golden globe looks so out of place. I have no idea why it’s there and what’s it for. I was so  busy taking photos of the area, I didn’t listen to the guide’s lecture.

. It looks like something that has been left behind by  aliens. Actually, the globe is called Sfera con Sfera. ( A Sphere within a sphere )

The Pope is the head of  The Vatican and of more than 1 billion Catholics,  myself included.  Furthermore,  he is considered the Vicar of Christ,  the human messenger of God here on earth, and therefore , whatever comes out of his mouth cannot be disputed. In other words,  he is infallible…….  So, as a Catholic, do I believe in the Pope’s infallibility ?  I’m not sure. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m a practicing Catholic.  I go to Mass every Sunday, without fail,  listen to the priest’s sermon attentively, even go to church on holidays of obligation,  but I think believing in the Pope’s infallibility is kind of a stretch. Okay, I digress.

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.Mom should have let the lady behind pass before she took the picture.  That’s  a beautiful photo, don’t you think so ?

Do you know how it feels walking down this great hallway ?  And that is just the hallway leading to the Museum proper.  * speechless*  * jaw drop *  * totally overwhelmed *

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I’m not an expert on male bodies but I think these Roman men really look buffed and fit. Well, a bit on the effeminate side, but   spectacular, nonetheless.    Oh, and the men must have spent a lot of time curling their hair.

.Do you notice the guys always have some cloth  draped on  their shoulder, but they’re naked down there ?   * sweat*  What’s up with that ?  I’m not being perverted here , I just find  fashion in their time awkward.  O_Oa  I mean, did they walk around town dressed like that ?  ” Good morning, Octavius. * looks down * Oooops, you’re quite perky today, I see “  Oh, well, I guess it didn’t matter if everyone was dressed  that way. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.   To this day, there are, in fact,  places where women are topless and men wear a loincloth that’s  just enough to cover their privates.

From the hallway , then upstairs to the museum proper.  Hey, that’s my Mom, the one wearing a hat. .

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.Jaw- dropping  art.  For such a small country, The Vatican packs a punch.  If you can visit just one country, go to The Vatican ( and of course Italy. The Roman ruins are just in the neighborhood. ) To us Roman Catholics, this is a religious pilgrimage.

Everything in the country is spectacularly rich. ( But I highly doubt Jesus would  approve.  Well, we all know what Jesus thought of the rich and powerful……… and the Romans, . Are you listening, Mitt Romney ?  )  Anyways, the photo above is the courtyard inside the Vatican Museum.

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.Perfect  human specimen !

I guess the statues we see  lining the hallway  are the minions, and the guy above is a VIP, a member of the elite,  with his own niche.  As far as quality of the sculptures is concerned, I don’t see any difference. So, how come those guys at the hallway don’t have their own niches?  Elitism rearing it’s ugly head again. …………..

Oh, wait! The guy above is Apollo . Okay, he is the sun god, god of beauty,  also the god of music , intellectual pursuits, etc.  and archery.  That sculpture is supposed to show him shooting an arrow, but bow and arrow are gone.  Oh, well, I guess it can’t be helped. He’s a god, after all and the son of Zeus, to boot.  He deserves a niche.

The photo above is that of Venus Felix, and her son Cupid.  What can I say ?  Every female wants to be a   Venus, the  goddess of beauty, and Cupid,  he;s my man of the moment …… shoot that arrow straight into my heart, Cupid !

.That one is that of Laocoon and His Sons. Laocoon is the Trojan who uttered the famous words, ” Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, ” referring to the wooden horse given as gift to the Trojans. I assume you know the story  ILIAD ?  Because of that, Poseidon took revenge and sent sea serpents to kill him and his 2 sons.  The discovery of this sculpture is significant because for the first time , the faces of the sculpture show emotions. ( in this sculpture, it’s emotion of great pain ) Take note that most of the faces of the sculptures before this was discovered  do not show any emotions. The Pope back then sent Michaelangelo himself to examine the sculpture, after which, it influenced his later works. Also, check out the other sculptures. You can see that the body parts ( limbs, etc ) are smooth . Laocoon’s shows rippling muscles that depict his struggles againts the serpents. There are lots of movements in this  sculpture that are absent in others.

Another significant thing about Laocoon is that its discovery  and acquisition by the Vatican started the creation of  The Vatican Museum.  From then on,  The Vatican had acquired almost all of the art objects that could be found in Italy and from all over the world, more specifically from Greece.  Most of the Greek objects were found in Italy though.  Well,  the Romans conquered most of Europe , and the Middle east. To the victors belong the spoils.  ( although I didn’t see anything from Asia, but who knows? Maybe they have a Room of Requirement, a place where they stash all the stuff they have deemed  not important enough to be displayed at the museum. Sorry, I made this up., he he he )

.That is Meleager, a figure in Greek mythology. He is  a boar hunter.  I don’t know his importance in Greek mytholgy , but he must be, because he has a niche in the Museum.

By the way, do you notice the  leaf that covers the private part of some of the sculptures in the Museum ?……… A Pope back then thought it inappropriate to have nude sculptures at the Vatican so he had some of the private parts covered with a  leaf.  That’s unfortunate. That pesky leaf distracts me from fully appreciating the human body.

,Above is Apoxyomenos. He’s some guy  that represents a Greek athlete. His stance is always as if he’s dusting dirt off his arms.

.A bas relief

.The Vatican Museum is not one big space that  houses all these antiquities. It  actually  consists of numerous rooms , and each room has a theme, like the room House of Pompey that houses sculptures of Greek mythological gods. The one above contains mostly  sculptures of animals.

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.Can you imagine how it feels to be underneath that  magnificent dome , and looking up to see those breathtakingly beautiful frescoes?  To be honest, I’ve run out of adjectives to describe them.

.Check out the frescoes on the dome.  Believe  it or not, they are one dimensional paintings, totally flat, but they look 3 dimensional, don’t they? This kind of painting is repeated all throughout.  And I’m not sure, but this room is the Room of Pompey or The Round Room,  or Sala Rotonda ( sala means living room ) that houses sculptures of Greek gods.   There’s a huge  basin in the middle of the room and an ancient mosaic on the floor.  It felt weird when I was there, because , I swear, this room looks exactly like the ones   on one of my most favorite video games… God of War, 1,2,3 ! Standing there, I felt I was Kratos, and had a sudden urge to  smash the sculptures to get a life force, or move the sculptures around to solve a puzzle. It’s not surprising  though because this is the replica of  the Greek Pantheon.

Guess who !      HERCULES ! I’m glad that he’s not depicted as one with huge muscles, which, to be honest, I find gross.  His body is perfect. And that one is not made of marble. It’s bronze.

.That’s Queen Helena’s sarcophagus ( stone coffin ). St. Helena was the mother of  Constantine. The one below is the sarcophagus of Constantina, the daughter of  Constantine. Both are housed in the Greek-east Room, and in the middle is a 3rd century mosaic floor.

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So far, I’ve only shown photos of The Vatican and none of Rome.  Actually, what I’ve posted here  are  only  1/10 of all the photos I’ve taken of The Vatican.  The Vatican has an immense collection of the Antiquities, one of the world’s greatest museums in the world.  The building where this massive collections are housed can even stand alone as one huge art object, every square inch of it.  I wish I could share all the photos  I had managed to take despite the limited time we were allowed to  see this magnificent place,  although  I’m aware not all share my enthusiasm and passion for the antiquities.   I only hope you won;t be bored to tears, because I’m going to show more  from hereon.  Oh, I wanna use ” Doubling down “, famous 2 words in US politics nowadays.  So, yeah, I’m doubling down.

.That is the Belvedere Torso, the only sculpture that had been signed by the sculptor himself.  ” Appolonius, son of  Nestor “.  He was a Greek sculptor from Athens.

.As you can see, this fragment of a nude male is displayed prominently in the middle of the Room of the Muses.  The Pope  back then wanted Michaelangelo to add limbs to the torso, but M declined several times, and said the torso was perfect. M, in fact, loved it so much that it became his inspiration for his male figures when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You know, when I saw those etched Greek letters, I was like, ” Oh, my , is that a signature? ” and took a picture of it . I was right. That was important.

.I imagine Kratos walking those stairs  and smashing the urn. And about the stairs below…. We climbed up and down these stairs but I didn’t realize it was  this beautiful seen from the top.

.By the way, before I forget, the tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel  was an Optional Tour and cost $ 65 each per person.

And I think  I have to stop here. At this point, this post ‘s word count is now 2014 words, and  contains 60 photos.  I have to admit that;s too much for anyone to digest.  So, I say,  Valete, Pax,  and see you soon !

I wish my brother was at home. He can write an essay in Latin.