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THE PAPACY BEYOND PETER :  AT-HOME ACTIVITY

 

 

In our February 2013 G.R.A.C.E. (Growing and Responding As Catholics Everyday) monthly session we focused on the Scriptural foundations for, the history of, and the meaning of the office of the pope. This was especially timely in light of Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that he was freely resigning from that office as of February 28, 2013 and a new pope needed to be elected before the end of March. For this home activity we invite you to explore online some links connected to the Pope, the Vatican (the city-state where the pope resides), the four major basilicas in Rome, and some links tied to recent popes and the papal conclave.  

AFTER EXPLORING THE LINKS:

      • CLICK ON ANY OF THE VIRTUAL TOURS AND BEGIN YOUR EXPLORING:
      • TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DISCOVERING WITH SOMEONE ELSE.
      • EMAIL KATHRYN LOCKE, DIRECTOR OF FAITH FORMATION, AND LET HER KNOW SOMETHING YOU LEARNED, FOUND INTERESTING, OR HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT.
      • FOR FAMILIES WHO HAVE CHILDREN IN RELIGIOUS FORMATION GRADES 1-8 WE ASK THAT EACH OF THE CHILDREN CONTRIBUTE TO THAT EMAIL BY MENTIONING SOMETHING THEY LEARNED FROM THEIR EXPLORATION.
      • PRAY FOR POPE BENEDICT AS HE MOVES INTO RETIREMENT. PRAY FOR THE CARDINALS WHO WILL BE ELECTING OUR NEW POPE. PRAY FOR THE NEW POPE !

TOUR #1: ST. PETER'S BASILICA

  • Click on Historical background, if you want to delve more deeply into the history of this largest of Catholic churches.
  • Or jump right into the Virtual Tour:
    • St. Peter's Square at night. Imagine it filled with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists, especially when there is a significant event such as the election of a new pope. Note that you can pan 360 degrees and/or zoom in and out with most of these websites.
    • The Pieta. Michaelangelo's most famous statue, to the far right after you enter through the main doors. Remember: proper dress, no shorts or sleeveless attire!
    • The Nave. The long, long central axis. Note: no pews, just open marble floor. A central walkway marked out so that the pope or whomever is the main presider, along with the opening procession, has an open path. Don't forget to use the zoom, to zoom in!
    • The Altar. Note the columns and baldachino (canopy) designed by Benini. Don't forget to use the 360 degree panning feature to get a sense of what the basilica looks like from the pope's point of view when he is presiding at Mass. Again, imagine the church filled with 20,000 worshippers.
    • The Apse. The view from behind the altar. Rotate your view to get a sense of the altar area.
    • The Necropolis. The Tomb of St. Peter. A different "tour" but one enters it through St.Peter's and goes down below the basilica to the tombs of the Popes. Recent excavations have uncovered some evidence that indeed St. Peter might have been buried in this area, though it is historically still a question. But take this tour and see some more of what lies beneath St. Peter's Basilica.

    TOUR #2: ST. JOHN LATERAN

  • Click on Historical background, if you want to delve more deeply into the history of the cathedral Church of the bishop of Rome.
  • Or jump right into the Virtual Tour:
    • The Apse. Zoom in on the bishop of Rome's Chair. The Latin word for chair is "cathedra". So, a cathedral is a church building which houses the bishop's chair, the symbol of teaching in continuity with the apostles. Whenever the pope is acting officially as the bishop of Rome in his teaching (for example, if he were ever to declare that something is infallibly to be held as a matter of faith, he must do so from his cathedral chair in this Church, not St. Peter's. At such a time he is said to be teaching "ex catehedra", or officialy from "his chair".
    • The Nave 1. The Nave 2. Zoom in and turn 90 degrees on either side to see the statues of the Twelve Apostles, one each in between the pillars which hold the church together. A visual representation that the Church is founded upon the apostles and carries on the mission given to the apostles.
    • The Transept. A view of one side areas. Be sure to pan 180 degrees to see what the altar area looks like from that angle.
    • The Cloister.Typically a group of priests and brothers would live right on the church grounds, responsible for the daily pastoral care of the faithful who come to this church. And like many monastic buildings a prayerful cloister is part of the architecture of the building. Imagine saying your daily prayer, not in a stationary seat or kneeling, but walking around the cloister area again and again as you prayed.
    • The Baptistery Many of the old churches reveal a large baptistery, the place where baptism occurred, often in a separate or adjoining building. Although the current building of St. John Lateran is relatively new, it reflects that ancient tradition with a magnificent baptismal font and baptismal area. Imagine being baptized by the bishop (and in ancient times, the deacon and/or deaconness assisting, depending on whether a man or woman, because they would be fully immersed, no clothes, then clothed in white and brought out to all the people in the church).

    TOUR #3: ST. MARY MAJOR

  • Click on Historical background, if you want to delve more deeply into the history of this huge and ancient Church, including some of the finest examples of 5th century mosaics.
  • Or jump right into the Virtual Tour:
    • The Apse. Be sure to use the zoom and panning functions to tilt and then zoom in on the dome of the apse to see some of the most beautiful of the art. Then pan 180 degrees to look out past the altar into the whole church.
    • The Nave 1. Look to each side of the main archway over and above the altar area for some of the mosaics. Zoom in and tilt the image down below the altar to view the steps into the Crypt of the Nativity. By legend a piece of the crib of the baby Jesus is kept there. Whenever a priest celebrates Mass in that crypt they are allowed to use the prayers and readings from Christmas Day, no matter the day of the year. This is also the crypt area for the the body of St. Jerome, who translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, called the Vulgate.
    • The Nave 2. Click on this to get the full, long view of the main area of the Church. Zoom in and up to see all the mosaics.
    • The Baptistery Another example of a large, separated baptismal area.

    TOUR #4: ST. PAUL OUTSIDE THE WALLS

  • Click on Historical background, if you want to delve more deeply into the history of this 4th important basilica in Rome, by tradition the burial place for the body of St. Paul, after he was martyred, with recent archaelogical research offering some support to this traditional belief. It was nearly totally destroyed in the 19th century and so the church as it stands to day is a reconstruction.
  • Or jump right into the Virtual Tour:
    • The Courtyard with Cloister Walk. Pan the full 360 degrees to get a sense of the peacefulness and prayerfulness of the space.
    • The Nave. Images of all the popes are depicted along the upper walls of the nave. use the zoom and pan functions to take a look at some of them.
    • The Apse. Be sure to pan 180 degrees to get a full view of the church from behind the main altar and to see more of the images of all the popes.
    • The Tomb Below the main altar. Zooming in gives you a sense of how the focus is on that tomb as one prays.

    TOUR #5: THE SISTINE CHAPEL

  • Click on Historical background, if you want to delve more deeply into the history of and artwork in this amazing chapel. Here in the Sistine Chapel the Cardinal-electors will cast ballots for a new pope until one candidate receives at least a two-thirds majority. In eras past, the cardinals had to live within those walls and so over the centuries the chapel became darkened by smoke and grime. Restored to its original colors some years ago the magnificence of Michaelangelo's masterwork shines out.
  • Or jump right into the Virtual Tour of the Sistine Chapel. For the tour do the following:
    • The Last Judgment. Zoom forward to examine the huge scene of the Last Judgment as depicted in the Gospel of Matthew and envisioned by Michaelangelo.
    • The Creation of Man . Then pan straight up to the ceiling, middle. Zoom in to examine the famous creation of man image, where God's "finger" touches/creates Adam. Zoom in on other parts of the ceiling to see if you can identify other biblical scenes depicted by Michaelangelo
    • The stories of Moses. Look along the one wall for a series of depictions of Moses, completed prior to Michaelangelo's work. Zoom in to see if you can name the biblical scene being depicted.
    • The stories of Jesus. Look along the other wall for a series of stories from Jesus' life, again completed prior to Michaelangelo. Zoom in to see if you can name the story being portrayed.
    • The Keys of the Kingdom Delivered to Peter. In particular, see if you can find the famous fresco of Jesus handing Peter the keys to the kingdom.



    © 2007 SS. John and Paul Parish                      (top of page)