Tuesday, 25 April 1978
Holiday in Rome for the ending of the Second World War. Must be a type of Remembrance Day. P.M. to lay a wreath on the tomb of the unknown warrior.
Morning sightseeing to the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums – long gallery of exhibits of maps, paintings, tapestries that are hung in the Sistine Chapel, ceilings all fresco.
Sistine Chapel fully painted by Michelangelo. Ceiling has the story of creation. One fresco near the top tells of the story of Jesus. On the opposite side the story of Moses. Need a pair of field-glasses and a book to get the meaning out of each picture.
The end wall tells of the Creation – done by Michelangelo in his later life. Took 8-12? years. Some later painter covered the nude bodies with a veil like effect.
St Peter’s Basilica is immense, very bright and spacious inside. ‘La Pieta‘ now enclosed by large glass screen.
Thousands in the cathedral as a mass was being celebrated. Rich colours in the High Altar as the priests conducted the service. Beautiful choral singing. Solo girls. One sang ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ in Italian. Deep diapason notes in the concluding accompaniment to each verse. To the top of the dome over 400 feet designed by Michelangelo.
Afternoon tour to EUR – the new section of Rome and the Catacombs.
New apartment blocks, office blocks, artificial lake, churches, stadium and park areas. Clean. Different impression altogether.
Catacombs where Christians buried their dead. Five levels, visited 2nd level. Many tunnels and galleries 10 to 14 feet high. Built in volcanic rock, soft and stable. 140,000 in this one.
Went to a church to see the statue of Moses by Michelangelo.