05 March, 2014


Absolutely nothing to do with Edward II, I'm afraid, but I've just spent a wonderful four days in Rome, and thought you might be interested in seeing some pics. :-) In Edward's reign, the popes lived in Avignon, not Rome, so he really had no connection to the city at all that I know of, and there were only two popes during his reign: Clement V (born Bertrand de Got, formerly archbishop of Bordeaux), 1305-1314, and John XXII (born Jacques Duèse, formerly cardinal-bishop of Porto), 1316-1334. There was an interregnum of over two years between these popes, which obviously perturbed Edward II greatly: he sent numerous letters to the cardinals pleading with them to elect a new pope as soon as possible, which they finally did when Edward's brother-in-law Philip of Poitiers, soon to be Philip V of France, had them locked in a room until they decided.

Here are some of my many - 1500 or so, haha - photos of the amazing Eternal City. Click on them to enlarge.

Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore) on the Esquiline hill, originally built between 432 and 440. It's one of the four ancient papal basilicas of Rome, the others being St Peter's, St John Lateran and St Paul outside the Walls (pics of all of them here).

St Peter's Basilica and Square. It's free to get in (as are all the churches in Rome that I know of), but you have to pass through a security check. If you intend to visit, I recommend that you arrive as early as possible (it opens at 7am) to beat the crowds. Even in low season at the end of February, when I was there, there were hundreds of people waiting to go in when I came out at about 11am.

Facade of St Peter's Basilica. The present building was constructed between 1506 and 1626.

Michelangelo's Pietà (1499), just on the right of the door as you enter St Peter's.

Inside St Peter's Basilica, the largest church in the world, built on the burial site of St Peter the Apostle, executed by Nero in Rome in about 64/67 AD. Peter asked to be crucified upside down as he didn't think he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord Jesus Christ.

View of the Eternal City from the dome of St Peter's. The dome was designed by none other than Michelangelo.

The Spanish Steps in the rain, with the church of Trinità dei Monti at the top.
Inside the basilica of St John Lateran (San Giovanni in Laterano), founded by Constantine the Great, the first Christian Roman emperor, in about 314, consecrated in 324. Seat of the Pope as Bishop of Rome.
On the right, the great painting The Conversion of St Paul by Caravaggio (1571/73-1610), in the basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo. I adore it. You're not supposed to take photos of it, so I did it sneakily (shhh!) and therefore it's not a very good pic. You can see the painting properly here. Saul of Tarsus, persecutor of Christians, hears the voice of Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus, tumbles from his horse, and lies on the ground in rapture. (See Acts of the Apostles, verse 9, as well as some of Paul's own epistles.) 
The Trevi Fountain.
Trajan's Markets, basically a shopping mall built at the beginning of the second century AD.
The Scala Sancta, Holy Stairs (or Steps), supposedly from the palace of Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, upon which Jesus Christ stood before His crucifixion. They're marble, covered with wood to protect them, and housed in a building opposite St John Lateran. You're only allowed to ascend them on your knees.

Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls (San Paolo fuori le Mura), according to legend the burial site of St Paul, thought to have been executed in Rome by Nero in the 60s AD. Founded in the early 4th century by Constantine the Great.

The cloister of St Paul outside the Walls. You can see some people in the bottom right of the pic; gives you an idea of just how massive the four papal basilicas actually are.
The Arch of Titus on the Via Sacra near the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Son of Vespasian and elder brother of Domitian, Titus was emperor from 79 to 81 AD.  He is best known for his brutal suppression of the Jewish Revolt in Jerusalem in 70, and for building the Colosseum (with his father). He was emperor during the massive eruption of Vesuvius in 79.

The Circus Maximus, for 1000 years the main venue for chariot races in Rome, between the Aventine and Palatine hills (you can see some of the ancient buildings on the Palatine in the pic). First built in the 6th century BC, races were held here until 549 AD. Although now only a muddy field, the shape of the stadium can still be clearly be seen, and it's an astonishing 2500 years old.
The arch of Constantine (the Great), dedicated in 315 AD, with the Colosseum to the right.

View of Rome and the River Tiber from the Savello park on the Aventine. Lovely little park full of orange trees, with ancient walls, practically a lake when I was there after a lot of rain!
The Pantheon, a temple dedicated to all the gods worshipped in ancient Rome (the name Pantheon means 'all gods' in Greek), rebuilt by the Emperor Hadrian around 125 AD, at about the same time that he was building Hadrian's Wall. Reconsecrated as a Christian church in 609.
Inside the Vatican Museums. You have to go into the Museums to see the Sistine Chapel, and entrance is 16 euros. Again, get there as early as you can. They open at 9am; I arrived at 8.15 and there were only a few dozen people ahead of me, but a good few hundred behind me by 9am, with thousands more pouring in in the four or so hours I was there.
In the basilica of St Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) on the Esquiline, which was rebuilt on earlier foundations in the 430s, are the chains used to shackle St Peter the Apostle in Herod's prison. See Acts of the Apostles, verse 12, which describes how Peter's chains fell off when he was liberated by an angel.

The basilica of Santa Sabina, on the Aventine, founded by Peter of Illyria in about 422 AD. It's next to the Savello park, above.
Holy relics, including a nail with which Christ was crucified, two thorns from the Crown of Thorns, and three small pieces of the True Cross, inside the church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem (Santa Croce in Gerusalemme), founded by St Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, around 320. See here.
Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs (Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri), which only dates to the 16th century, but incorporates the remains of the Baths of Diocletian, Roman Emperor from 284 to 305 AD.  Somewhat ironically, Diocletian was a great persecutor of Christians. He was succeeded by Constantine, who converted to Christianity.
My favourite church in Rome, the small basilica of Santa Prassede, built in the 8th century on top of much earlier remains.
Santa Prassede.
Some of the wonderful mosaics in Santa Prassede, which date to 817-824.
Inside the Vatican Museums.
The Colosseum, also known as the Flavian Ampitheatre, built by the emperor Vespasian and his son Titus between 72 and 80 AD.
A 13th-century fresco of Christ on the Cross, from the basilica of Santa Prassede.
It's forbidden to take photos inside the Sistine Chapel, so here's a postcard I bought, showing Michelangelo's astonishing ceiling (1506-1512) and his massive fresco (1536-1541) of The Last Judgement on one wall. It's worth visiting Rome just to see the Sistine Chapel, in my opinion. It's so miraculously wonderful I have no words to describe it, and I just sat there for an hour, admiring it. The figures are so vivid and three-dimensional they come right of the ceiling. Here's a virtual tour.

Exterior of the papal basilica of St John Lateran, seat of the Pope as Bishop of Rome (see also above for an interior pic).


Kasia Ogrodnik said...

Welcome back, Kathryn! I'm so happy you had a wonderful time. The photos are lovely.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Kasia! It was so amazing. Can't wait to go back sometime. :-)

Daphne said...

Great pictures - looks like you had a wonderful time. Rome is on my list of places to visit. Maybe someday...

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Daphne! Hope you make it there someday!

Marsha Lambert said...

Stunning photos. I really enjoyed the information posted with the pictures. I hope one day to visit there. What an amazing experience.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thank you, Marsha! Hope you can visit sometime!

Anerje said...

Welcome back Kathryn! Brings back happy memories from last year. Unfortunately I went when the Vatican was closed! Going back next year. Lovely pix!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Anerje! Hope you had a great time, though shame about the Vatican. Although the weather was pretty dismal when I was there, going off season did mean that the crowds weren't too bad, at least!

Carla said...

Looks like you had a wonderful time! Welcome back.

Re the gap between Popes in 1314-16, by coincidence it's just been mentioned in the run-up to Bannockburn in a novel I'm reading about the Wars of Independence. Is it possible that one reason that Edward II wanted the cardinals to elect a new Pope ASAP was because he was hoping for papal support against Scotland?

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Carla! Yes, I think that's pretty likely, and at least part of his reasoning. Edward was quite clever at using his influence with Clement V especially against Robert Bruce.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting the photos; I also hope to go some day. Maybe, you could lead a tour that would focus on the parts of Italy where Edward II may have lived after his deposition.


Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Esther! That's a great idea!

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Esther! That's a great idea!

Kathryn Warner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anerje said...

Apparently, my short break in Rome coincided with the 3 days a year the Vatican is shut! LOL!

Solved my blog problem - changed browsers!

Gabriele C. said...

Lovely pics, thank you for sharing. Yeah, the weather looks rather British on some of them. :-)