Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: TOURIST ATTRACTION(S) (natural or man-made) (08/06/15)
- TITLE: On Holy Ground
By Lisa Hudson
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I had only read about it up until the point we finally arrived, and I was already in awe over the fact that this glorious masterpiece was painted by one man, over five hundred years ago. We walked along the opulent hallways inside the Vatican, taking time to view the majestic works of art hanging on the walls on both sides, before we made our way through a surprisingly common looking doorway that would lead us into the Sistine Chapel.
At first you couldn’t help but notice the great number of people standing all around the room and many more who were lucky enough to find a bench placed along the walls. It was obvious these people were from all different walks of life, adorned in their various types of clothing. If you listened carefully, you could hear the different tongues being spoken amongst their own groups and families, yet they all had one thing in common. All faces were aimed upward at the glorious ceiling above them.
I imagine my initial response at the sight of the ceiling was a common one, but I was absolutely taken back by how strikingly colorful the scenes were that hovered over me. It was a breathtaking image to behold. I was desperate to find a seat alongside the wall, just so I could take my time to truly take in the innumerable scenes all around. As luck would have it, we were able to find a seat. Every now and then, the voices of the crowd would grow louder from the increasing number of people chatting with each other about what they were seeing, only for us to be ‘shushed’ by the guards at the doorways. They were there to remind us that we were indeed inside a church chapel, and that respect for where we were was their main objective. Although their words were spoken in Italian, their message struck me in my heart and served as a reminder that this was a personal and spiritual experience.
The images of the Garden of Eden, and Noah with the Ark were captured so brilliantly and beautifully. Many of the paintings appeared to have a 3D affect as you continued to look back and forth, from one masterpiece to the other. Of course, the ever-so-famous painting depicting God touching the hand of Adam was indescribable, and well worth seeing in person. As with so many things, pictures are wonderful but they can’t do justice to the true works of art such as this. It must be seen in person to be fully appreciated. The very height of the ceilings made it incomprehensible to think of one man taking on such a task, let alone finishing it.
As we took in all that we could before our tour guide was ready to move forward, we also learned many facts about the artist, that weren’t commonly known. Contrary to popular belief, Michelangelo did not paint the ceiling while lying on his back, although who can say for sure that he didn’t find a way to recline on the scaffolding to find some relief for his back and shoulders once in a while? He was also very frustrated by having to do this job, as he considered himself a sculptor, and not a painter. The one that surprised me the most was that Michelangelo was believed to be agnostic, not really a spiritual man at all. How could a man depict the stories from the Bible with such detail and beauty, and create what seemed to be a genuine labor of love, without the love of God within him? To me, this was just more proof that God can use anyone to accomplish what He wants.
I am not of the Catholic faith, but I recommend all Christians visit Rome at some point if they are able. I saw firsthand a prison where Paul and Peter had been held captive. I walked along the Appian Way. I was shown the place where it was believed the resurrected Christ met Peter while he was trying to escape, and Jesus told him he must return to be taken prisoner and eventually martyred for his faith. Just the mere fact that I walked along the Roman roads, the very same roads mentioned in the Holy Scriptures, makes the hair on my arms and neck stand on end. For those few days, the Bible came to life for me, and I will cherish those memories forever.
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