CAPITOL DOME AND FRESCO, WASHINGTON, D.C.: True story… Several years ago, while in Rome, Italy, I was standing near St. Peter’s Square late in the evening. An American couple and their two children pulled up in a taxi and got out. They approached me, nodding to the dome, asking me if “that” (St. Peter’s Basilica) was the American embassy. First time outside of America, I’d guess.
The Capitol building dome in Washington does, of course, resemble the great Roman basilica. It has inspired countless other domes across the world. Washington D.C.’s Capitol dome is made of cast iron and weighs 8,909,200 lbs. The interior of the dome, as seen from the floor in these two photos, features a fresco painted by an Italian called Constantino Brumidi in 1865. The painting is called The Apotheosis of Washington. The painting depicts George Washington becoming a god (apotheosis) during America’s revolutionary war. Washington is draped in the royal colour purple. Forming a circle are 13 maidens, each with a star above her head, to represent the 13 original American colonies. And, above Washington’s head, is the banner E Pluribus Unum which means “out of many, one.”
Photos by John Ecker | pantheon photography
Top photo: Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikon AFS 10-24mm lens at 10mm,1/60 sec., f5, ISO 640
Botton photo: Shot handheld with a Nikon D40X, Nikon AFS 18-200 lens at 170mm, 1/40 sec, f7.1, ISO 800
ST. PETER’S SQUARE: Pope John Paul died on April 2, 2005. At his funeral, the faithful chanted “Santo Subito” or “Sainthood immediately.” Pope Benedict then put his popular predecessor on the fast-track for sainthood by dispensing with the traditional five-year waiting period to start the process. In May, 2011, the former Pontiff moved another step toward sainthood when he was beatified in a St. Peter’s Basilica ceremony attended by a crowd estimated at 1.5 million people.
In St. Peter’s Square, a gigantic banner was hung in celebration of Pope John Paul’s beatification. It’s the largest photograph of him anywhere. This photo shows a group of Catholic pilgrims from Canada, walking through the square late at night.
Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
BASILICA OF ST. JOHN LATERAN: December 27th is the feast day of St. John the Evangelist. This church is dedicated to St. John the Evangelist and John the Baptist. It is one of the four major basilicas in Rome. And, while most may think that St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is the “Pope’s Church”, the Basilica of St. John Lateran is actually the Pope’s ‘home’ cathedral. Built by the Emperor Constantine the Great in the 4th century, San Giovanni in Laterano was the first church to be officially built in Rome. The cathedral was dedicated on November 9, 318. It was embellished with decorations given by Constantine, including seven silver altars with seven gilded candlesticks inlaid with images of the prophets. The building has undergone many changes over the centuries following periods of neglect, invasion (Vandals) and natural disasters. Arches are adorned with reliefs of angels, including those shown in this photo. No two angels look alike. Shot handheld with a Nikon D70s, Nikkor 18-55mm lens at 51 mm, f4.2 1/13 sec.
Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography
THE BASILICA OF ST. DENIS: Just north of Paris, in the suburb of St. Denis, is the beautiful Basilica of St. Denis. It’s not a huge church, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in artifacts and history. Construction of the Gothic church began in 1136. Virtually every French king is buried here, earning it the title of Royal Acropolis of France. During the French Revolution, crypts were raided and bodies dumped nearby in pits. The remains were subsequently recovered and reburied. Beneath the altar, in the crypt, are the remains of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Also buried here are the remains of Clovis I, Dagobert I, Henry II and Catherine de’ Medici, among others. I recommend reading Great Gothic Cathedrals of France, by Stan Parry, in my view, the best and most readable book about French Gothic Cathedrals. Shot handheld with a Nikon D300, Nikkor 70mm -300mm AF-S VR lens, at 300mm, f22, 1/80th sec, ISO 3200. Photo by John Ecker | pantheon photography