It's impossible to properly convey how steeped in history this city is. It's in the air, like a heartbeat.
"You're walking where the history of the world once took shape." I hear it with every step.
St. Peter's Basilica, where once stood the church that marked the spot where Peter was martyred...it was breathtakingly beautiful. And I almost, ALMOST, stopped myself from reminding the kids that the Pope is not Jesus...but alas, I caved and whispered the reminder as we passed yet another statue of a pope blessing the people. Sigh...knowing that Peter walked there...and that Peter walked with Jesus...it makes me want to cry a little bit.
The history is palpable. I love it. There are so many things about even our language that can be traced backward to the origins of Rome.
Did you know, for example, that the Latin word for 'sand' is 'arena' ? That's why the Colosseum is called an arena...because sand covered the floor. (to soak up the blood...gross)
I'm driving everyone crazy with all the information I'm trying to absorb and pass on. But also, knowing stuff is making me popular.
We abandoned our tour guide at the Roman Forum. Why?
"We HAVE a tour guide. Charity knows everything," Mackenzie informed the group loudly.
Untrue...but dang if I didn't feel like a superhero.
We walked through the Roman Forum, the religious and political center of Ancient Rome, with the remains of temples on every side. We took note of the Arch of Titus, where it is proudly displayed that Jerusalem was ransacked and destroyed, and that the valuables brought back funded the completion of the Colosseum. We saw the ruins of the palaces of Nero and Caligula and all the other evil emperors of Rome. We glimpsed the remains of the ancient slave market, where all the captured Jews were carted in and sold.
All horrifying feelings aside, I reminded the kids, "If not for the fall of Jerusalem and the disbursement of the people...Christianity wouldn't have spread the way it did." We all attempted to settle our ruffled feathers. There's no "poor God" in any situation, people. Not one.
Which is why, I suppose, I held my tongue during our tour of the Colosseum, when our kind, elderly guide told us that Judaism, and then Catholicism, was that same as Christianity. All that was within me...struggled not to raise my hand. "Point of clarification..." But I didn't. I'm not sure if my parents would be proud or disappointed...but I do know that the crowd I was with appreciated my lip pursing silence. (Except Faith, who made a face at me that said "that's not right." We are the same person.)(Also, Ashely said she could SEE the look on my face, from the back of my head.)
Understanding the depravity of the human culture without a relationship with Christ is not hard to come to grips with if you visit Rome. The ancient culture is FILLED with terrible details I won't shock you with. It would make you sick to your stomach.
Despite it all, I love this city. I love the history. I love the pizza vendors on the street and the gelato shops that are barely able to hold 3 people at a time. I don't even mind the random people hocking their wares at every corner.
I love that, if I look closely enough, I can see the Lord here.
The journey continues tomorrow...with a surprise day trip to...I guess you'll have to wait and see.