With exams finished I've rediscovered a city named Rome located just around the corner. Yesterday I visited with a fellow student priest the Capitoline Museum, the world's oldest public museum, housing priceless and ancient treasures the vast majority of which were donated by Pope Pius V in the 1500s and Pope Benedict XIV in the 18th century.
The museum itself is divided into two buildings on the top of the Capitoline hill. The grand steps, the piazza, and the facade of the buildings were all designed by the great architect and artist Michelangelo. A temporary exhibit showcasing the works of Michelangelo were on display which included many of his handwritten letters, drawings with red chalk, and initial sketches. One interesting piece was a wooden model of the dome which was used to prepare for the construction of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica.
The building itself is a work of art, with vast rooms decorated richly form floor to ceiling. The Spinario is a famous bronze piece depicting a boy pulling a splinter from his foot and has been copied often.
The highlight for me was to see two paintings by Caravaggio. It's a small goal of mine to see as many Caravaggio pieces as possible during these overseas years. The Capitoline houses two. The first is The Fortune Teller. One can barely see how the fortune teller (left) is not just reading the young man's palm but is also slipping off his ring!
The other piece, more famous, is John the Baptist. We were surprised to see the painting off the wall and setup behind a wooden enclosure. An artist was touching-up the piece. I had never seen this before. She worked with great confidence and speed. Though the oil painting is 400 years old, the technician touched-up here and there swiftly.
A piece that caught my eye was The Annunciation by Garofalo dating from 1528. The angel is richly clothed while the Virgin wears more simplified garments. The fire and cat to the right depict a home setting while the upper left corner shows God the Father with the instruments of the Passion.
One room was dedicated to ancient coins. I tried to find coins that would have been circulated during the time of Christ's earthly life. I believe these are the ones, though I could be quite wrong. Another interesting coin is that from the time of the Emperor Constantine who in 313 legalized Christianity causing a tremendous change in the daily life of the Church's existence.
The hill provides a nice view of Rome, though the weather was typically wet-January.And lastly, Fr. Tom Petro and I found good ole Bacchus, the Roman god of wine and celebration. In these post-exam days we thought it appropriate to pose with a guy who knows how to celebrate!