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San Pietro in Vatican

Some in-depth thoughts on my trip to Vatican

I had mixed feelings being right there in the Vatican last year. While I’m in awe of its beauty and grandeur, I had a hard time reconciling the disparity between the teachings from my strict Catholic upbringing – of compassion and social justice, and the overt decadence and immense wealth of this palatial structure. Such is institutional hypocrisy at its grandest scale, in my opinion.

Yet, setting aside religious precepts, Vatican is definitely enjoyable and worth-visiting for its art and cultural heritage. If you happen to be there, you wouldn’t want to miss the cupola.The harrowing climb up the St. Peter’s dome is vertigo- inducing and strenuous even for the fit (all 550 steps of it by foot, 320 by lift) but it was, by all means, all worth the trouble as we were rewarded with a magnificent 360 degree view of the eternal city.

In light of the Pope’s recent visit to the Philippines, I hope the country remembers his heed against corruption, citing it as a legacy of sin on one of his homilies. Seeing that the rock star pope has more star power and reach than the brightest local celebrities and mass media combined, I wish his message reaches the poor uneducated masses, most especially, and awakens everyone to challenge corruption and champion transparency.



The view from the top of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was worth all the huffing and the puffing


The basilica’s facade and a few of the 140 saints on the colonnade


A view of Rome from the top of the dome


Michelangelo himself designed this dome. Breathtaking!


St. Peter’s Our Lady of the Column Dome


St. Peter’s Basilica dome, conquered.


This was on my way to the cupola and here’s a view from the fenced area of the dome’s base. Look how tiny the people are. To give you an idea of how big this structure is, the letters are twice as big as me.


Statue of St. Paul infront of the basilica


The pictures just don’t give justice to the size and beauty of this place. For example, this structure looks small because it’s dwarfed by the ginormous dome but this baldacchino is actually 96-foot-tall. It’s said that the bronze that makes up this stucture were taken from the Pantheon. Hence the epigram Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini : What the barbarians did not do, the Barberinis did


An elaborate air vent on the floor of the basilica that leads to the underground crypts, presumed as St. Peter’s final resting place


A closer look at the dome. the latin inscription is translated as “To the glory of St. Peter, Pope Sixtus V in the year 1590, fifth of his pontificate”


Lights shining through the windows of the basilica, lending a reverent mood to the place


Group picture infront of the basilica


A Swiss guard in its colorful drab


Swiss guard on duty


Michaelangelo’s Pieta

In response to the weekly photo challenge: depth

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