St. Peter's Basilica Vatican City about 1892

ST. PETER’S, ROME — The approach to this noblest temple of Christianity is worthy of the shrine itself. The grandeur of the intervening space, the curving colonnades on either side, the lofty obelisk in the centre, the sparkling fountains on the right and left, and finally the breadth of the gigantic edifice itself, surmounted by the glorious dome — all these leave an impression on the mind never to be effaced. The obelisk perhaps appears at first a singular decoration for the entrance of a Christian church, but in reality it is most appropriate. For this majestic relic of old Egypt once stood where now St. Peter’s stands, within the Circus of Nero, a place of Christian martyrdom. What could have been more fitting, therefore, than that this ancient monolith, after beholding so many scenes of suffering, when it gave place at last to this grand temple of the persecuted, should here uphold before its door the Cross of Christ, which has replaced (to some extent at least) throughout the world, the mighty sword of ancient Rome. On the right of the church is the enormous Papal palace of the Vatican, which with its galleries of sculpture and painting makes of this part of Rome a place of pilgrimage for all admirers of the most wonderful of Christian churches and of unrivaled souvenirs of ancient art. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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