The Diary of Evelyn Forrestâ€™s Trip to Palestine
Tuesday, April 29, 1930
We â€œmust see Rome also.â€ Richard is feeling better this morning although his head still aches. Had breakfast in our room and left Naples at 9:30 a.m. The country is quite different from what I expected, many mountains and tunnels, long tunnels and more tunnels. The soil is black and looks very rich, all under cultivationâ€”great fields of wheat and buckwheat the latter in full white blossom. The trees are trimmed flat like a hand and used for grape trellisâ€™s, many wires from tree to tree support the vines.
12:30 noon. Arrived in Rome. Victoria Hotel, small and modest but clean, comfortable and reasonable in price. Had lunch. Took a sight seeing tour from 2:15 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. St. Peters and the Pantheon were the most interesting. The gigantic bronze doors in St. Peters (the center front) on which are panels depicting The Christ, The Virgin, Peter and Paul and Peter crucified head downwards, and Paul bound kneeling to be beheaded, are very impressive.
In the center of the square as you approach St. Peters, is erected the largest Egyptian obelisk in Rome. It formally decorated the Circus of Claudius Nero, the very area near which thousands of early Christians were torn to pieces by the wild beasts or burned at the stake. The body of Peter is said to be buried immediately under the beautiful altar. The Pope is the only one privileged to say Mass before this altar. The four pillars of brass, which supported the canopy over the altar, are patterned after the columns of Solomonâ€™s temple. Three columns of marble are on the side, said to have belonged to Solomonâ€™s temple and brought here from Jerusalem by the mother of Constantine.
This wonderful structure is built over the original St. Peters or Basilica, in which all the dignitaries of the church and Popes are entombed. We were privileged to go down to see the original, among others we saw the tomb of Merry del Val, the Vatican, sec. of state who recently died.
The Pantheon is not as magnificent as St. Peters but is very interesting being the only Pagan temple in the world in such a good state of preservation. It has been converted into a Christian temple in the fifth century. The sarcopliagus of Raphael is in the Pantheon. The Pantheon was built by Agrippa in 28 B.C. and dedicated to all the gods. After a walk around the block, we went to bed early.