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Foreign Correspondence

Foreign Correspondence image
Parent Issue
Day
18
Month
July
Year
1873
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

As the time of leaving thig Imperial city draws nigh, it is hecoming very evidedt that these notes have ftillen behind our sight 8eeing and must in part be written under the disadvantaga of having other objects more freshly before the mind. We took a short but very agreeable excursión one day out of Porta Popaio, making a circuit by the Acqua Acetosa and returning by "Porta Salara. The road leads in a uearly straight direotion to Ponte Molle, and until it is eached, is dull enough ; but here the country opening out on either hand and the swolling tufa hills across th Tiber, with the Flaminian way leading up its opposite shore, and the associations of the locality all render the vicinity quite interesting. The bridge now in use is of quite reoent erootion but it oooupies tho site of the ancient Pons Milvius, and it is made memorable as the spot whera the emissaries of Cataline froui the Allobrogi were captured, B. C. 63, and it was from this bridge that Maxentius, after his defeat by Constantino three or four miles up the river, A. D. 312, ws thrown and drowned, a scène immortalized in one of thoso celebrated fresooes of Raphael at the Vatican. Following tho road along the left branch of the river about a milo further we arrived at the mineral spring, which from its peculiar taste is called Acqua Acetosa, being slightly acid and supposed to possess some salubrious properties, of such merit that a very substantial area was excavated and enclosed together with a somewhat ornamental facade at ono end noarly two centuries ago. Whatever taay have been their popularity or efficacy in an early day, it is man i fest that a the present day there is no great rush of visitors, either from curiosity or in search of health. There is only one house (a peasant's) within halfja mile of the springs, and excepting ourselves and threo thirsty peasant men, it is doubtful if there were any others who attemptud to drink from the very low tubes from which the water slowly ran. The water does not appear to form any deposit of a mineral character and of its analysis wa eannot spcak. Loaving the tpring wo followed the river bank for soino diöiance and then ascended the high range of hills or promontory which forms the point of laud between the Anio and the Tiber, at their junction. In the plain of the Anio beyond, we found a large forcé of men engagod in the re-erection of Ponte Salara, blown up by Garabaldi in 1867. The highway iuto the city wan along the Via Salara and we occasionally saw the narrow, excavated passages which penétrate the tufa rock, just large euough for a smal' peraon to pass, and which were usec doubtless for short transita from one larger exoavation to another, - this rogion having beeu much occupied by the ancient catacombs - those of 8t. Prigcilla baiug in this vicinity. Porta Salasa like Porta Pia suffered considerably from the bombardment in 1870 and has but re contly boen restored. The celebrated gardens of Sallust once oocupied this vicinity, where now upon one side the street lies the Villa Ludovisi, and on the other only vin yards. ïhere is great enjoyment in these brief escapes frcin the sight of ruins and galleries, into the luxurious amplitude and free air of the country, and during the entire winter there ae ever to be fouud some variet; of field or road side flowers to brighten the way. Thus far wa have overlooked the im portant claims of St. John Lateran to ou notice, but we have reachod it at las Of courso we oarly visited this celebratec church and its collectious ; but valuable as the latter are they do not posseas that power to gratify mere curiosity which is found in those of the Vatican or toline. In fact, it was not until 1848 that ,he capacity of the latter becoining insufficient to accommodate the newly discovered Bculptures constantly being jrought to light, it becarue necessary to establish a collection at the Lateran, and already there are sixteen room well filled with these ancient soulptures, besides eeTeral upon an upper floor oceupied by the Christian antiquities. After saying bo uiuch of the more interesting Bculpturt el8ewhore it would be of little interest to describe those that are here gathered tojother. Tho portrait statue of Sophocles is the cnly oue of such especial uierit as to foriu an exception, and is said to be one of the best, not inorely of this philosopher but of all the ancient porirait statues. There are many object of greut value as aids to study and in the dapaitment of Christian Antiquities, and many very interesting in their associations and as explanatory uf the early Christian symbolism - art and usagea- but not of a character to justify extended desenption. In tbe latter ave a large nuinber of Saroophagi witli reliëfs of religious or biblical scènes. The inscriptions are arrangod to facilítate examination in the following Boinewliat guneial uianner : lst. Elegies upon Hartyrs of the time of Pope Damasus in the latter part of 4th century. 2d. Inscriptions having defiuitfc datos reaching from A. D. 238 to 557. 3d. Those having some relation to the particular views and doctrinos ot' the age. 4th, Memorials of the Popes, presbyters and deaeons. 5th. Those of other persons of eminence. 6th. Thúse expressive of the affection of relatives and friends 7th. Symbolic representations, and lastlj the simple epitaphs of no iinportance relatively. Thesa curious and valuable data are all from the catacombs, which in this and various other vrays have been quite denuded of their contents, and the explorer iuto thoir darlt and arrow passage3 see Httle to reward hÍ9 curiosity exoapt the empty mclies that lie on either hand as hu' passes along. The churoh of jS. John Lateran in the history of the early church and especially of the Papacy holds a very important rank, having boen the principal church in the city from the time of Constantino. Thrown down by an earthquake as early as 896 it was again erected ; in 1308 burned down and again restored ; and in various túnel has been inodified and altered until in 1734 its present facade was completed by the distinguished Florentine architect Galilei, and with the numerous statues which adorn its balustrade 13 so conspiouous from any prominent eminenco that it is as readily distinguished as St. Peter's. It is also one of the most imposing of the Roman churches in size, being 408 feet in length and about 250 in wicith, the interior being a spacious nave with doublé aisles, supported by massive pillars in which the auciont oolumns are left exposed upon one side Somo of Bernine's Apostles display their. drapery in the niches of these pillarrs without greatly enhancing their beauty. There are numerous objects of interest among which are the Corsini and Torlonia chapéis, so-called from their tion and decoration haring been at the exponse of those families. They are kept closed by high screens, and in each a special custodian exhibits their Tery rare beauties for the giatifioation and centimes of the ourious stranger who is not content with a inore distant inspeotion through the screen. The Corsini chapel is oompletely lined with the rarest and most boautiful marbles, and inlaid with still inore precious stones. Clement XII. was of this family and a fine bronzo statue forins a part ol his monument. The Torlonia chapel is equally rioh, yet from its diferent iaterior construction and finish, they are quite unliku. The altars and ceilings of each are roniarkably fine. A passage of 12 feet or more in width extends around the Tribune, and aruong the curious objects here is the Tabula magna Lateranensis icing a tablot of black niarble, about 6 'eet by 3 in size, which is very closcly inscribed with a list of the precious relies belonging tho the church, among whioh are the heads of the Saints Peter anc Paul and others of similar importance Iu this same passage are statues of Peter and Paul and also of one of the Popes executed in the lOth oentury. A inonu ment in bronze to Pope Martin V. ocou pies the confessio and underneath au elab orately designed canopy of tho 13th een tury, is tho High Altar at whioh only th Pope ever reads mass, and the -vooden table of tbis altar was brought froin th cataeonibs, ifc is said, and is the sam which Bt. Peter used as an altar in hi day ; a clear case of uiiraculous preserva tion. In the octagonal Baptistery it is traditional)}' underitood that Constantine the great was baptized, and iu the pórtico is au ancient statue of the Emperor, found iu the Therma which he constructed aájoiningfthe church, was tho palace or residence of the Popes until they were compelled to make their home teuiporarily at Avignun. The present palace, erected upon the same site, is the building novv occupied by the museum. Across the streot is the colebrated Scala Santa, in a buildinc of no Dretension respondiiig to tho veiy rare treasures it eushrines. The visitor to the principal or central portal looks directly up the celebrated 28 marble steps which were ascended by our Saviour aceording to tho legends, at the time of bis examination Pilate. ïhey were brought, it is said, from bis palace by the Enipress Heleaa, motber of Constantiue the great, A. D. 326, and have ever since been an object of especial veneration at Eoine. There is nothing in their appearance, so far as visible, that indícate any singular peculiarity or virtue, being'of pure white marble, the treads about six feet long, twelve inches wide, and eight inches high. To protect them from the constant wear they are alinost entirely covered with a oorresponding {wooden flight, through wbich frequent openings odmit of the sight of the more venerated marble. At all times, but more on festival days, the faithful believers flock thither and devoutly maka the ascent upon their knees, stoppiug on each step for their varioua petitions, and often bonding forward to kiss the uiarblo througn tne opening m the wooden protection. The progresa is quite slow, and the (sight of so inany feet arranged in all sorts of covering, and the singular devotion of sonie and cure to personal appearance of others, united to the whiinsical solemnity of the priests in attendance make a sceno of most singular interest. We did not in fact, nor quite in imagination, see all that Dickens describes in his Italian notes, but the spectacle was one worth seeing though not remarkably edifying. A posted notice infonns all of the great privileges attendant upon the performance of the ascent the indulgence being of considerable lfinirfh. As tho dovotes are only allowod to atcend, tvvo other flights, ono at each side, pertnit the descont. At the top of the stairs is a chapel in which is a picture of Christ ascribed to Ut. Luke, and adjoiuing is a larger ohapel in which ser vices are held. Frora the open Piazza de Porta S Giovanni, where the city wall is quit low upon the iuside, a splendid view is hac of the entiro cainpagna, stretching off southerly to the Altum Ililla and Fras cata and ensterly to the Sabine mountains and Palestrina, crossed by the railioad and the ineturesque aqueaducts and the Via Appia, with the conspicuous tomb tower of Cecilia Metilla. A pleAsant road, shadcd by mulberry trees, leads to the St. Croco in.Gerusalemine, a church traditionally connected with ht. üelcna, who not oiily brought to Rome the Santa Scala above referred to, but who likawisa by her indeïatigable and zealous intorest after her convrsion, went to Jeruaalom and cauing a templ of Venu to be ïoved and deep excavations to bo made, nd after groat labor was rowarded by lie discovery of three crosses, and to asertain the true one it is said that a peron being carried to bis burial was placed upou it and immediately was restored to ife by its wonderful efficaoy ! This then jeing the tiue cross, was divided and ft jortion taken to tho Emperor Constanine, who again divided it and sent a porion to Rome, when this church of S. jrooe n Gsrusaleinme was erected to reeive and preserve it, about A. D. 320. 'he cburch has of courso under gono nany changes and probably quite lost its original forin but is quite singular and nteresting as it now appcars. The nave s supportod by ancient columns of Tanite and the tribune is adorned with 'refooes by Pinturecchio, representing tho various scènes conneoted with the finding of the Cross. Descending a flight of steps we reaoh the lower churoh and nore ancient. Statues of Peter and Paul of the 12th contury are in the first chapel and the vaulting is adorned with old mosaica. In the chapol opposite is a sta ;U9 of St. Helena upon the altar, which is an exact duplícate of the [so-oalled Barbarini Juno in the Vatican, holding in her right hand a cross instead of a sceptre and in her left a nail from the crosa instead of a vase. The ooincidence soems quite singular but St. Helena no doubt resembled tha goddess who had been represented in the marble Eome centuries earlier. At the door of this latter chapel a marble tablet bears an inscription in Latin to the ffect that " women cannot possibly enter the chapel without incur ring the penalty of excommunication," a very great deprivation, inasmuch as erery portion of it is visible frorn the open screen which forms the entrance. Eeturning to the city and passing the ancient church of St. Clements belonging to an order of Irish monks, we Btopped to inspect the soinewhat noted old Put it in ! church. The structure as it now stands is partly from the beginning of the 12th century, erected upon the site oí a stal more ancient church of the 4th century. In the present or upper church, to whioh thore is a descent of several feet froni the street, [is to be seen thevery well preserved and beautiful though rather massive white niuxble screen together with two ambos forinerly in the earlior church. But the most curious object of interest is the ancient church which has been excavated with great care under the direction of Father Malony, and iu which he takes a peculiar pride. The Irish monks are always glad to show national interest in visitors who spaak tho English tongue, and we were enabled to ruake the tour through the partiality. We descended, as if entering the catacoinbs, each beariug a email twist of wicking saturated in sperm. Along the side walls we passed ancient inscriptions of the 4th century and entered the vestibule of the older êdifices which appears to have consisted of a nave and aisles of somewhat more magnitude than the church above. Mauv of tho old frescoes still remain, much injured of course and gomewhat ude of design but readily traoeablo. 'he anoient columns are still in position long the aisles one row being partially oncealed by the masonry. In this suberranean church a chapel and altar have jeen fitted up, and upon the festival of St. Clement, November 23d, and that of St. gnatius, February lst, the rolios of both of whom aro traditionally preserved in his church, the subterrauean churoh is :ully illuminated and is then seeu to the est advantage. We plaoed too muoh confidenco in our Bctdecker, and so unwittingly went to the latter festival on the 2d of February one "day af ter the fair." Still below the older of these churches have been discovered more ancient chanbers óf tufa stone, which ïave been imputed to the Eepublioan era of the city. Among the discoveries of this very ancient date is on altar supjosed to be to Mittrag. Father M. has published an account of his labors and discoveries during the past few years. In our search íbr odds and ende of curious things that we had not yet geen, we visited the S. Lorenzo in Lucina whicb was quite near us, to see the fine crucifixion in this church by Guido Eeni. The sacristán removed tho curtain with which it was covered, and we had the pleasure of seeing a very beautiful representaron of the great tragedy. It is different from his great picture of the same subject ot bologna in which appears oue of the Marys erubracing the fcot of the cross, but in other respects it is in the main rauch like that and exceedingly effective as a representatiou of this familiar subject of art. In the same church is a monument erected to the mouioiy of N. Poussin, A. D. 1645, by Chateaubriand. It is of plain solid cubes of white marble. The upper containing a deep niches in which is placed a bust of the artist below which ia a bass-relief of four emblematic figures and upon a reheved tablet is the inscription. But the completion of tho Roman sights must be further postponud to another letter. Yery truly yours, J. M. WHEELEE.

Article

Subjects
Old News
Michigan Argus