The Scala Santa
referred to on page 189 of this book, are in a church near the Lateran. They were brought to Rome by the Empress Helena and may only be ascended on the knees. They are partly covered with boards, to save the stones from being worn away by the thousands that ascend it. Two adjoining stairways are for the descent.
S. Pietro in Vincoli
was founded about 442, as the receptacle for the chains of St. Peter, which had been presented by Eudoxia, wife of Valentinian III., to Pope Leo I. This church contains the famous statue of Moses with horns, by Michael Angelo. Mediaeval Christian artists generally represented Moses with horns, owing to an erroneous translation of Exodus XXXIV., 35. Michael Angelo represented these horns upon the head of Moses as having been about three inches in length.
S. Maria in Aracoeli
probably occupies the site of the Temple of Jupiter. Its present altar encloses an ancient altar which is said to have been erected by Augustus. “According to a legend of the 12th century, this was the spot where the Sibyl Tibur appeared to the emperor, whom the senate proposed to elevate to the rank of a god, and revealed to him a vision of the Virgin and her Son.”
This church is approached by a very high flight of steps rising from the foot of those leading to the piazza of the modern Capitol, and “the interior is vast, solemn, and highly picturesque. It was here, as Gibbon tells us, that on the 15th of October, 1764, as he sat musing amidst the ruins of the Capitol, while the barefooted friars were singing vespers, the idea of writing the ‘Decline and Fall’ of the city first started to his mind.”
has been the residence of the Popes since their return from Avignon, in France, where they had resided from 1309 to 1377. It is now the most extensive palace in the world, being three stories high and 1,151 feet long by 767 feet wide, covering over 20 acres! The palace comprises 20 courts, eight grand staircases and two hundred smaller ones, and is said to contain 11,000 halls, chapels, saloons and private apartments. Since the Italian occupation, Pope Pius IX. considers himself a prisoner in his own palace, though strange to say, there are no doors locked except those which he locks himself on the inside! King Victor Emanuel, though, excommunicated by the Pope in the most indecent language that ever fell from human lips, has done no violence to the person of the Pope, and now contents himself as an outsider of the church.
The masses can now no longer “go to Rome to see the Pope,” for he neither ventures forth from his palace into the city for exercise and pleasure, as he used to, neither does he hold any public receptions. My French companion who had come to Rome for the purpose of making a present of several hundred dollars to the Pope, insisted on my accompanying him, as he was allowed a private interview, but I could not avail myself of the opportunity.