Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Change at the Pantheon
The Pantheon, quintessentially Roman, tough, massive, with its nobly simple inscription, speaks to us both of the virtues that the Romans tried to cultivate in their better moments, and of the triumph of the Christian faith over paganism. It is now the Church of Santa Maria dei Martyri, Our Lady of the Martyrs, honouring all those who gave their lives for Christ under the persecution of the emperors.
When I was a student, the building was essentially a tourist venue. The altars were there but it was not taken seriously as a Church except for one or two occasions in the year, with celebrations that were seen as rather odd. What a change there is today! The altar is adorned with cloths, candles and relics; High Mass is celebrated in the traditional Roman use; visitors are urged to keep silence and it feels like a Church again.
Here is a video, taken by John Sonnen a few years ago (the control of tourists is much tighter now):