Sopra Minerva

See, JOB, this is why it’s hard to bring back many photos of pagan stuff – they kept building churches on top of temples. This is Santa Maria Sopra Minvera. On the Creepy Catholic front – Saint Catherine’s body is here (see second photo), but her head is elsewhere – Siena, I think. On the video/travel journal front, apologies to the two or three of you who are waiting for more – The Wife is ill, and I’m in Mommy mode.


  1. Matthew,

    I understand the architectural palimpsest which is Rome – but the Forum? the Appian Way? the Janiculum?

    …which reminds me of a poem I once wrote (bored yet?)

    The Janiculum
    – For Pia DeSolenni

    The unadorned swelling of it rolls on along the south and west
    Of history.
    This last blunted prong of a seven-pointed crown
    Feels twilight’s dusty breath of moth-wings
    Hovering above the sun’s fat flame, the sun itself
    An old orange wrinkling to rot,
    A jewel-fired egg tarnished
    In a last semi-circle of atomic fury
    Set for detonation above corn fields in far-off western Gaul.

    Strafed with pigeon dung, nameless ruins have been cropped back
    To rubble.
    In a feathery burst through air,
    Itinerate doves
    Interrupt evening’s nearest approaches. Straining
    To rise above sunset’s concerns.
    They drag aloft to their statuary nests
    Empire’s newly subtracted straw tally.
    Like tears across the hill’s face, they flit and chase their shadows.

    The statuesque shoulder squeezes its great bulk through
    Night’s narrow
    The full form takes the full brunt
    Of last light and a breeze
    Roosting in warm, quiet hues upon its heights,
    Barren except for the deconstruction of lares, poor and local.
    Suffused by cindered air, the flaccid jewels
    Of Rome, its modern city lights suddenly come out to see.

  2. Cubeland Mystic says

    Will be praying for Mrs. L.

  3. Matthew Lickona says

    I was mostly kidding. Of course I could have (and should have) taken more shots/footage of pagan goodness. But this really was a pilgrimage. The secular part, for me, was eating well. Thanks for the poem, though.
    Thank you. She never gets sick. But Italian germs love a challenge. She broke down the day we left.

  4. Mark Thomas says

    You take a mean photo.

  5. Matthew,

    Aw, I’m not that upset – although academically (as in the question is really academic) I believe that Rome, it can be argued, is the one city in which the pagan ruins are an integral part of sacred history and the sacred stuff is a part of secular history… (lions and gladiators and crucifixions, oh my!) The Eternal City does not distinguish. It’s the Roman Way.

    A history of the word “pietas” is itself a lesson in the blending of secular and sacred…

    But, that said, you have brought home a real trove of images. I look forward to hearing more about it.

    Also, please give my best to Deirdre – and here’s my recipe for a hot toddy:

    1 lemon
    2 tablespoons honey
    2-3 shots rum or brandy
    1 large coffee cup of hot water

    Boil water
    Squeeze lemon and add juice
    Add Honey
    Add rum/brandy (2-3 shots – but maybe more: you know you have enough when the fumes emanating involuntarily cause your nostrils to wrinkle)
    Stir well.
    Say goodnight.
    Repeat as necessary.


  6. Matthew Lickona says

    I would tend to agree. But they wouldn’t let us take pictures in the Villa Borghese… Still, one or two to come. Plus lots and lots of video.
    Why thank you. High praise considering the source. I’m happy to admit I have a little help from iPhoto. I didn’t want to use flash in most cases, and it’s nice to be able to up the Exposure a bit…

  7. Mark Thomas says

    So long did you wait for that ray of sunlight to kiss St. Kate’s not-her-cheek? Or is that iPhoto too?

    Do you know if “Santa Maria Sopra Minerva” means “Church of Holy Mary Built Right The **** On Top of Mighty Minerva’s Pagan Whorehouse?”

  8. Matthew Lickona says

    That’s exactly what it means. But the light on St. Kate is artificial. No iPhoto on that one, though.

  9. Mark Thomas says

    Whoa…too much coffee. I’m trying to get an outline done.

    I would like the first question answered, though, so your readers will just have to forgive the second.

  10. Mark Thomas says

    Dang! That was quick service!

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