Gypsy's Travels

Thursday, July 4, 2013

An afternoon Expedition to Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri

 We continued on our afternoon excursion, passing up a piazza crowded with canopied tables filled with wares for the busy Italian shoppers, and headed toward our destination, Piazza della Republica Roma. We were seeking the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (Basillica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs) .
The photo appears calm and quiet but there are usually hordes of vehicles bearing down on you as you attempt to cross.  We learned to always use the crosswalks. Pedestrians do have the right of way in the crosswalks but you should not rely on vehicles to stop. Once you make the move to cross, keep moving - the vehicles do plan to miss you! Since we were still intimidated, we learned to watch the locals and walk with them!

 Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri

 This building was originally part of the massive (some 130,000 square meters) remains of the Baths of Diocletian  until 1541 when a Sicilian priest had a vision of angels in the ruins. The Pope viewed the vision as a message from God and ordered a church built on the site and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the angels, and the Christian slaves who had died building the original baths. Guess that covered everyone.

Door of Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri -
The Risen Christ

In 1563 Michelangelo, commissioned to design the church, began his work but he died the next year. His design was completed by Jacopo Lo Duca and the church was given to the Carthusian monks, who built a monastery next to it.

In 2006, two bronze doors, by sculptor Igor Mitora replaced the old wooden ones

Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri door handle -
the Virgin Mary

 "Light and Time"
Stained glass by Narcissus Quagliata 1999

The dome of the Basilica is the result of many changes over the years. Originally a circular opening in the rotunda of the Baths to allow rain to fall into the water below, it has evolved to the present stained glass masterpiece. "The glass cupola is not attached to the ancient roof fabric, but rests on three gilded steel spheres and thus leaves a narrow gap all round for ventilation."

Main altar
It seems every church in Italy has, at least, a small claim to fame - a relic, a masterpiece, an attributed miracle, etc. This church has a Meridian Line commissioned in the 8th century by Pope Clement XI. It was completed in 1703 and provided the standard for local Roman time until 1846.

The sun enters through this prism "eye"
Sun shines along this Meridian Line

We did not get to see the sun mark its path this time, but it will be on my list for next time.

Apparently, the church has special exhibits that travel through. We found this one: Isochronism in the Oscillation of the Pendulum.
 "Here in the exact words of Galilei: 'The other truly marvellous thing is that the same pendulum oscillates with the same frequency, or just slightly, almost indistinguishably, different.' Galileo Golilei, Opere IV, 475-476" "The regularity of pendular movements opened new horizons on something in which Golilei firmly believed, namely the universality of all movements, whether they be rectilinear, circular, or parabola.
This was no mean feat. Since the dawn of civilization rotating movements had been considered to belong to the heavenly spheres. The consequence of the discovery that all movements are manifestations of the same entity, that of motion, was that stones had the same status as stars."

We gave the pendulum a little swing

Off to one side, there is an unassuming little room with a history and drawn plans of the Baths of Diocletian.  That room opens on to a small enclosure which, I believe, must have been one of the small gardens allocated to the monks just outside their cells. The Carthusian monks took a vow of silence but were allowed some conversation / quiet interaction every Thursday. The area has a few remnants of architectural interest strewn about.

Part of the monks' cells?

"This statue is a gift from China to
the State Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels and Martyrs."

 "This bronze statue of Galileo Galilei Divine Man was designed by Professor Tsung Dao Lee, winner of the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics, Director of CCAST (China Center of Advanced Science and Technology) and WFS (China) President.

Finally, the floor of the church was amazing! I wonder if I could make a quilt with this pattern......

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