Saints and Sinners

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I went to a fair number of churches when I was in Europe. When you are just wandering around and want to see stuff but also want to avoid spending money they are a good place to go because they are usually free to get into and they are also often quiet, offering a nice break from busy city streets and tourist sites (even if some of the churches are sites themselves). The old churches are very interesting architecturally, have amazing artwork, and interesting histories. Being inside them I do feel as though I’m connected to the history you learn about in school textbooks and it seems so much more real. But they always leave me with mixed feelings, these churches are amazing to look at but the reality masked by the glittering gold and dazzling colours is much darker. To pay for these buildings and the organizations they stood for, wars were fought, cities pillaged, and “heathens” out down. People just scraping by tithed so new frescoes could be painted and ceilings be lined with gold. But being in them I feel I could understand why some illiterate peasant, who has heard no dissenting opinion, could believe that because of the grandeur of these buildings, the people who built these places must have some special connection to the divine. What these places stood for is power, oppression, hypocrisy, and a total aversion to the rational or factual. So here is what you are looking at:

– The first seven pictures are from the Santa Maria degli Angeli in Rome. This was actually built upon the ruins of an ancient Roman temple, the walls of which can be seen in two pictures. Groundbreaking was in 1562 and it was  Michelangelo’s last architectural work.

-The next four pictures starting with the picture of the Greco-Roman columns, are of the Pantheon in Rome, another Roman temple (126 A.D.) converted into a Catholic church.

-The next five are the Cologne Cathedral (Kolner Dom in German, officially Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria), Catholic Church, took from 1248 to 1880 (with interruptions) to complete.

-The final five are from another church in Cologne I cannot remember the name of.

“Blessed are the working poor, whose high hopes pay for all these golden crosses.”

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