In honor of The Young Pope on HBO, I thought I’d share some more journal reflections from 2004 and a poem – what? Poetry? Read to the end for that lyrical treat.
June 4, 2004 – Vatican City
The walls of the Vatican support the hills of Rome. A cathedral built over a dead body of a saint. And in its walls, building up from the earth, it grew into his name, San Pietro, making rotting bone into crumbling wall. An idolatry of architecture. Walking over a grave.
St. Peter, crucified and buried outside the city. A heretic, outcast. 260 years later and his cathedral is revered, so easily reversed. Being outside the city, it was easily defeated and soon enough the walls were wrapped around to protect, to hold up the hills. Its own city, The Vatican. More prized than Rome itself.
Perugino has Christ give Peter the keys to Heaven, a symbol of the Renaissance. St. Bartholomew holds his own skin that was taken from his body in life causing his death. And in this empty skin that he holds, Michelangelo’s face appears. St. Catherine holding her own spiked wheel was covered and her head was turned towards Christ after the artist died. The bodies emerging from the green, yellow ground with gap-toothed ugly faces and skulls draped with linen, a covered hand reaching up to a fleshless chin. The bodies are huge, holding up books and crowded among pillars. God is in a human brain touching Adam’s finger.
I get dizzy, staring up and circling all the bodies moving and twisting, separating the light from the dark, night from day.
Air conditioning, it’s all I smell.
There’s a demon in the orange, red glow of Hell. His head shaded in grey with fur horns or thorns circling his skull. They pull and push and throw the writhing bodies down into the pits. Pleading to be freed one last time. To be redeemed and resurrected like Christ, wearing holes in their hands and feet and praising the light.
Jesus on the cross pieced together like a plastic action figure with bendable arms reaching out on the beams. Blood runs from his ribs down to his thigh and streaks down his arms to his pits.
How horrible is the guards job in the Chapel, silencing people all day long?
And now, a poem (apologies for the spaces between each line, unintentional):
A New Blue
A bird nesting in ash rising with glistening new feathers from its own death, The columns of St. Peter’s rise into a horseshoe of human forms and masonry A grave beneath a city of God on Earth Handed to the red Cardinals, a bird of a different color Rotting bone into crumbling wall Building into a new name San Pietro Holy City A heretic crying dirty words outside the city walls Pentecostal pinnings, a bird voice warbling an ugly song turned on his side and drained of life Blood rushing to the Christ points and draining into a pool that no Pietà would care to show The apostle rotted away outside Rome centuries piling up on his dirty bones Ash upon ash Dirt and dust Clay in shapes and rebuilding A man in breaths A wall is built up A cathedral A holy sight A religion And a man becomes Saint Michelangelo paints us God Creates a new blue
Sistine Chapel images from Commons.Wikipedia – Public Domain