This one’s a little harder to prove, because I don’t have photos from the Before phase. But I have a pretty clear memory of our excellent tour guide telling us in 1991 that four alabaster columns had been donated by Someone Ruler of Somewhere when the church was being constructed. Two of the columns were used to flank the main doors, while the other two were sliced into inch-thick slabs, which slabs were used as windows. The effect was little short of magical. The windows glowed, and all that New World gold on the ceiling glowed back, and everything was gentle and luminous and lovely. All changed, changed utterly

Well, not really. The gold is still there on the ceiling, and the incredible mosaic still adorns the apse, and it’s still my favorite baldacchino. But none of it lives in the same atmosphere. Now, the plain glass windows let in light that blares like a trumpet; what was there before was more like a French Horn.

I can’t prove all this, of course. But before we left for Rome, our friend Ernesto told The Wife, “Be sure to stop into St. Mary Major. The windows are made of stone, and the light is wonderful.” You can’t go Rome again?


  1. Matthew,

    From Bill Long, apparent lexophile, comes this:

    Sometimes people inadvertently bequeath their names to something embarrassing or not particularly praiseworthy. For example, the verb “grimthorpe” entered the English language also in the 19th century but this time in a negative context. Mr. Edmund Beckett (1816-1905), the first Lord Grimthorpe, was in charge of the restoration of St. Albans Cathedral. He restored it so lavishly and unskillfully that the building was said to be “grimthorped.” So, a 1909 article could say, “The parish church, which despite of vigorous ‘grimthorping,’ still shows a trace of its old Norman architecture.”

    We not only feel your pain, but we can name it too…


  2. Cubeland Mystic says

    Please help me with this new word. I am kind of busy today, but here is a rough definition.

    lickonasis : The description of a person’s interior psychic transformation from a state of high euphoric expectation to a state of bitter disappointment.

    I was excited to see the movie, but during the movie had a total lickonasis toward this dull piece.

    Sometime during the project, Bob had a lickonasis realizing that he and the project were doomed.

    After the marriage was consecrated, and her new husband was asleep, Polly had a terrible lickonasis wondering if he would always perform so poorly.

    If you could help me with the verbiage, once complete we can submit it to Webster’s or Oxford etc.

  3. CM,

    Your lexographical wish is my dictionarial command: (lick-on-ass-his) n. pl. -ses (sez). 1. an artificially induced depression-like condition in which an individual undergoes a pychological change from euphoric expectation to anticlimatic and even acrimonious disappointment.
    2. Lickonatism. 3. A depression-like condition. 4a. Sci: a barometric change which causes so called “inland hurricanes” in the Upper Midwest(See Fitzgerald, Edmund; Superior, Lake; Maritime Disasters, Great Lakes) b. the meterological term which describes such a change [After popular pessimist and major minor novelist of the 21st century, Matthew Lickona; Lickona – from O.F. – *origin unknown*]

  4. hysterical! please add, eeyoreist-a person capable of taking even the greatest and most obvious of good and beautiful things and rendering it sad and depressing…, say, the churches of rome. ;-))))

    (you know we love you matt.) mcm

  5. Matthew Lickona says

    You use the talents God gives you. “Depression-like” – very clever.

  6. Matthew,

    Ever clever.


  7. Cubeland Mystic says

    JOB, Nicely done.

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