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There are so many beautiful houses of worship in Rome. Churches, Cathedrals, Basilicas — no matter what they are called, they are full of a rich history and artistry that is a wonder to behold.
On our full day of touring Rome, Michael and I found ourselves wandering in many of these beautiful sanctuaries. They stand open, throughout the day, welcoming anyone to enter.
Here is a sampling of the churches we visited. Many had origins back to the 1st Century but all the current structures date back to as early as the 16th century.
All Saints’ Anglican Church – Est. 1887
Chiesa de Gesu E Maria – Est. 1602
Basilica S. Giacomo – Est. 1600
Basilica dei SS Ambrogio E Carlo – Est. 1610
Chiesa di San Marcello al Corso – Est. 309 AD , rebuilt 1597
Oratorio del Santissimo Crocifisso – Est. 1568
Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi – Est. 1650
Basilica dei SS. XII Apostoli – Est. 499, rebuilt 1714
Chiesa San Luigi dei Francesi – Est. 1589
Chiesa di Santi’ Agnese in Agone – Est. 1652
Believe it or not, everyone was not born to hate and everyone was not born a hateable stereotype.
Where does hate come from? Is it jealousy? Partiality? Being disrespected? Envy? Ignorance? Or is hate purely based in fear?
At what point did hate become the acceptable alternative to loving all mankind?
Hate is an extreme, passionate emotion, just like love. Are we strictly taught to hate? In the process, do many people even bother to think about it logically and try to discover the origin of it in their own lives?
All hate doesn’t evolve into violence. All hate does affect behavior and the treatment of others. Sometimes the vehemently caustic words so easily expressed by some, are more damaging than actual physical violence enacted by others.
We often see hate expressed violently in correlation to religion, race, politics and class. At what point did these groups become nothing more than targeted and often, victimized stereotypes? Granted, it’s much easier to hate a group than it is to hate an individual. It certainly saves time. If someone really wants to live in an isolated bubble then hating, by definition is a simple solution. Why waste time getting to know people as individuals?
Hate+ Isolation= An Ignorant, Fear-Filled Life
In social media, you see so many people expressing feelings, judging others and many times probably not even realizing, that what they are doing is hurtful. Everyone is entitled to their opinions. People really need to realize that the way they express their opinions can come across as hateful and hurtful to others; even if it is unintentional. I completely defend everyone’s right to freedom of speech and practice it myself, frequently. But, I believe there is more danger in the words of those– that unknowingly, express hatred towards others than those that side with, and identify with openly defined hate groups.
Politics is one of the most visible arenas for acceptable expressions of hate. Parties disagree. We all understand that. Threats and total disregard for another viewpoint without any credible validation? Unacceptable.
It’s an election year and we have candidates perpetuating hate on both sides. In effect, what I hear from politicians is quite often the exact same accusations and promises, twisted to their benefit, according to what they think the public wants to hear. Or, at least enough people to get them elected.
Politicians are hypocrites and thrive on contradiction. Politics has become a game of hate. Who hates whom more?
In a game, there is a winner and a loser.
In a game of hate, no one wins and everyone loses.
Isn’t it the same with every other aspect of our society? Instead of hating others because of their differences, how about some meaningful discussions about how we can all get along and come to some concrete, acceptable solutions? Does loving one another no longer exist? How about some education and acceptance?
But that would take time and effort. People might be required to step out of the safety of their bubble….
It’s much easier to just hate.
Another big day, we’d scheduled two excursions, “Peter the Great’s Grand Palace- Peterhof” and “Saint Petersburg Cathedrals“. By this point on our trip, we’d realized we were only averaging about four hours sleep a night and were happily exhausted. I have to say, I became quite good at taking cat naps on the buses to and from our destinations.
In the morning, we headed to Peterhof Palace for what was to be one of the highlights of our trip. Peterhof is a not-to-be-missed destination. If you are visiting Saint Petersburg, Russia and are short on time, I’d definitely choose Peterhof over Catherine Palace. Both are beautiful and opulent but in addition to the Grand Palace, Peterhof has the exquisite Grand Cascade and gardens that are a sight to behold.
We arrived early at Peterhof, which was important for two reasons: 1) We were one of the first groups to tour the Grand Palace before it opened to the public, and; 2) We were present when the fountains were turned on, on the Grand Cascade.
Like Catherine Palace, Peterhof was built in the early 1700’s and sustained substantial damage from the German invasion during World War II. It has been fully restored, though renovations are ongoing.
The interiors and gardens were both heavily influenced by French style. There is an overabundance of silk wall coverings, ornamental plaster designs and gold leaf detail in every room. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed inside the Grand Palace.
It took about an hour to walk through the palace and then we had about an hour to explore the gardens before meeting back at the Grand Cascade to see the main fountains activated.
It was a sunny day and about 70 degrees. Perfect for a beautiful, relaxing walk.
Back at the Grand Cascade, we chose to watch the fountains from a lower corner where there were less tourists crowding the area. Aside from the beauty, the big attraction to the fountains is that they are all gravity-fed. No pumps are used to power the many fountains. It’s not only an amazing feat of ingenuity, it’s visually stunning.
As if the sights of Peterhof weren’t enough stimulation for one day, we had enough time to return to the ship for a quick lunch before meeting our group for a tour of some of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals. I’m just going to focus on two: Saint Issac’s Cathedral and Church of the Spilled Blood.
Saint Issac’s Cathedral is the largest Russian Orthodox cathedral in Saint Petersburg. It took 40 years to construct, opening in 1858. I found it interesting to know that the Gold dome was painted over in gray during World War II to deter detection. There are still pock marks from enemy fire, visible on the the large exterior columns.
The interior is amazing. The color and detail are glorious.
Most commonly referred to as Church of the Spilled Blood, the Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ is also known as The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood.
This was one of my two must-have picture spots of Michael and I on our vacation. (The other was the Berlin Wall.) When we visited and toured the interior, it was turning overcast, so I was grateful we had stopped here briefly the day before and I was able to take some exterior pictures.
The Church of the Spilled Blood is visually recognizable by its ornate, colorful onion domes. I can’t say why I find them so appealing, I just find myself drawn to them.
I wasn’t prepared to be so overwhelmed by the interior. The entire wall surfaces are covered in tiny mosaic tiles. It’s so difficult to comprehend the amount of work, time and planning that went in to the magnificent design. I’m at a loss for words to describe its beauty.
What an amazing day! I’m all out of adjectives to describe it all. I just feel so lucky and blessed to be able to have witnessed all this beauty first hand. It certainly brings new meaning to ‘trip of a lifetime’. And, we still had one more day in Saint Petersburg.