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Monthly Archives: November 2008

Basilica di San Pietro in Vaticano

A dream come true for me. I finally have seen St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome! And not only that, we were also lucky to see the Pope!

Minutes after we arrived at St. Peter’s square on Sunday, we heard thousands of people applauding, and when we looked up, a small window opens and there he came out- Pope Benedict XVI. He prayed the Angelus with the crowd and gave everyone there present the Papal blessing.

Here’s a short background about Basilica di San Pietro-

St. Peter’s Basilica (Italian San Pietro in Vaticano) is a major basilica in Vatican City, an enclave of Rome. St. Peter’s was until recently the largest church ever built (it covers an area of 23,000 m² and has a capacity of over 60,000), and it remains one of the holiest sites in Christendom.

Ancient tradition has it that St. Peter’s Basilica was built at the place where Peter, the apostle who is considered the first pope, was crucified and buried; his tomb is under the main altar. Other popes are also buried in and below the basilica. Contrary to what one might reasonably assume, St. Peter’s is not a cathedral – the pope’s cathedral is St. John Lateran. 


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St. Peter’s Basilica Inside and Out

All photos are Copyrighted. Ron Soliman 2008

Please click on each image to see the complete photograph.


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Michelangelo’s La Pieta inside the Basilica

Here is a remarkable piece of art by Michelangelo inside St. Peter’s Basilica. This sculpture was carved from a single slab of marble and it is one of the most magnificent sculptures ever made.

Here’s a little background on La Pieta: A pieta is an Italian word for artworks that depict the Virgin Mary cradling the body of the dead Jesus. There are many notable pietas that have been made by various artists throughout history. Probably the most well known of all is La Pieta by Michelangelo.

Michelangelo’s La Pieta can be found in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. It is the only work of the famed artist that contained his signature (found on a diagonal ribbon that is carved across the Virgin Mary’s breast). His signature on the La Pieta may be an indication of his satisfaction with his work.

Prior to creating the Pieta, Michelangelo was a relative unknown in the art world. He was then in his early twenties when he was commissioned in 1498 by the French cardinal Jean de Billheres to make one as the cardinal’s funeral monument. It eventually became one of the four pietas that Michelangelo made and the only one that he was able to finish completely.


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Don Bosco inside St. Peter’s Basilica

It was a big surprise to see the statue of St. John Bosco above the enthroned statue of St. Peter inside the basilica in Rome. Being an alumnus of Don Bosco, I feel so proud seeing the statue of our founder up there. 


And outside the basilica is a Don Bosco bookstore run by the Salesians.

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The Glory of Rome

The last stop of our short trip to Europe was Vatican City in Rome. I’ve never appreciated Roman history until I saw the ruins and the grandeur of the churches around the city.

I will include some historical background as I post the images, because it is important to know the significance behind these wonderful landmarks in the history of Christianity. 

Let’s start with the Coliseum- The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum was commissioned by the Emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and was completed in the reign of Domitian between 81 AD and 96 AD. The coliseum was used for gladiatorial combats and wild animal fights which were staged free of charge by the emperor and wealthy citizens for public viewing as a way of demonstrating their wealth and power. It was built with 80 arched entrances and internal corridors allowing the 55,000 strong crowd to move freely and to be seated within ten minutes of arriving at the Colosseum. It has been estimated that about 500,000 people and over a million wild animals died in the Colosseum games.

In 404 A.D. gladiatorial combats were banned and in 523 A.D. wild animal fights were banned. With the end of the Roman Empire, the coliseum fell into disuse, much of the decoration outside the coliseum including the travertine blocks were taken away and recycled by the popes. In 1893-6 the structure below the area was revealed to show the network of underground rooms and corridors where the animals were kept.

Thinking about all the Christians that were fed to the lions inside the Coliseum gave me goose bumps while standing in front of this huge structure.

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Paris in Black and White

Here are some images I captured while in Paris. I wanted to show them in Black and White…

All images are Copyrighted Ron Soliman 2008.


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Wedding in Paris!

We were walking along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées in Paris when we run into a newly wed couple, who are waiting for their Taxi. I asked them if they have a photographer, they said no. So I offered to take a picture of them as a wedding gift….

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We don’t have much time for this trip, so we basically jump from one spot to another. Man, taxi fares are pretty expensive here in Paris. But food is amazing! I LOVE THE COFFEE and believe or not the Sushi! So today, we went to see the Notre Dame Cathedral, where the “crown of thorns” were supposed to be preserved; the Eiffel Tower, where Bless got to get her photo taken with a handsome French police offocer. =) Click on the images below to see them big.

Tomorrow, we will try the boat tour around the Seine River, which goes around the city of Paris. So stay tune for more images.


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Vive La Paris!

We arrived at the Aéroport Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle today around 10:30 AM (around 4:30 AM Eastern time) after a red-eye flight from Philadelphia. I was really tired but got enough sleep on the plane to survive a whole day of walking along the streets near the Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris. Here are some photos from our first night in Paris.

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