or is it? also: in which i realize how rich the catholic church is
On our last full day in Rome, we wanted to check out the Galleria Borghese for all of my favorite Berninis. Gianlorenzo Bernini is one of the greatest sculptors, ever. The thing is, you apparently had to make reservations to get in because they only let in 200 people or something every so often. We decided to explore St. Peter’s Basilica, which is perhaps the nearest great landmark to our hotel. As it turns out, Bernini was one of the principal architects of the basilica.
St. Peter’s tomb (which is immensely hard to photograph). Catholics believe that the basilica was built on top of the site where St. Peter, whom they believed to be the first Pope, was laid to rest. Before there was a basilica, his grave was marked by a red stone.
Though it was such a sight to see, I couldn’t help but think of how needlessly lavish the basilica was, and in turn, how rich the Catholic church is (was?). St. Peter’s Basilica was constructed to honor its namesake, and it was partly funded by indulgences, a practice which has had a tricky and sketchy reputation. I marveled at all the beautiful churches we visited in different cities. Rome, especially, had such grand ones, but I can’t help but think about where all that money could have gone, though, or ask from where it all came from.
I know they must have thought that building something so awe-inspiring would glorify God or would prove evidence of his greatness, but I think that compassion and kindness towards the poor and the sick would be a much better testimony of that. I don’t think God would care where you prayed or talked to him, if what is in your heart is pure and true. But, I don’t know, that’s just me. It was just astounding how rich everything was. It was like going to your rich classmate’s house and you couldn’t touch anything because everything was worth much more than your life.
ANYWAY. I think this was the last church or place of worship we went to for the rest of our stay in Europe. I think it represents the enormity of the lavishness of the Catholic church quite well. I think it’s very, very beautiful, but my mind can’t seem to throw itself fully into celebrating that beauty, because it keeps going back to things in this world that are not beautiful (i.e. poverty, hunger, human rights abuse, among other things) and how the Church could have helped them instead.