Rome – Day 9: Caravaggio and Tramezzini and Uccelli

This mornings breakfast of champions. You can’t always have a cornetto. Pizza bianca and mortadella. Yum. Just enough salt.


It was time to look for those time pieces.  Off I went to Santa Maria degli Angeli, built into the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian.


Going to your right, in the main body of the church is the solar meridian I was talking about the other day.



The hole through which the sun is cast even gets a papal crest.



On my way to the Palazzo Barbarini, I stopped at S M della Vittoria for a look at Bernini’s famous Teresa in Ecstasy.



And then a stop at S. Carlo a Quattro Fontane, which was done by in wild man genius Borromini.


At the Palazzo Barbarini I saw the exhibit from Guercino to Caravaggio.   It was pretty good.


There was this lovely Guercino, the Madonna of the Sparrow.  There is a thin string from the sparrows leg to Christ’s hand.  I particularly like the deeply maternal character of Our Lady.


Speaking of birds, in the main collection there is this Madonna and Child, with a surprise.


Not just one, but two Christological Goldfinches!  This is rare.  Umbrian, second half of the 14th c.

Back in the Caravaggio exhibit, Cavaraggio’s self-portrait as an ailing Bacchus.  Probably made while convalescing after a kick from a horse, and maybe after he had killed a man.  The stone is suggestive of a tomb, the unripe fruit of sin, the grapes – in two colors – of death and resurrection.


In the main collection, Battoni did a Madonna and St. Philip Neri.


One the way home, a great view of another of the mad masterpieces of Borromini, Sant’Ivo.



Lunch, tuna and tomato, like to those I ate for years at lunch time while living here in Rome.


Near the Trevi fountain, the church where the papal entrails are interred, SS. Vincent and Athanasius, still has the stemma of Benedict XVI.  I find that comforting.

Just riffing off of yesterday’s intestine theme….


At 5 this afternoon, I have Mass in the crypt of S. Cecilia in Trastevere.


On my way to Mass.  Just around the corner here is the church in which I was ordained a deacon.


Quattro capi!  On the bridge going over to the island.


There is a hospital on the island.  It has been a place of healing since in ancient times and the Temple of Asclepius which was here.

You can see the “Broken Bridge” and the opening of the Cloaca Maxima.


St. Cecilia before Mass.  There was some drama.  There were some Germans in the upper church and the sister didn’t want to let us have Mass in the crypt.  I sorted things out.


St. Cecilia after Mass.




We hiked to St. Maria in Trastevere after supper.




Trastevere is lovely at night.


And back across the Tiber to go home and get some rack time.





About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. thomas tucker says:

    Since you’re in Trastevere, have dinner at Glass Hostaria, owned by my friend Christina Bowerman. It has excellent food and a Michelin star.

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I love S. Cecilia in Trastevere.

  3. I always enjoy a pie from Dar Poeta. I had the best house wine in my life there… do you know what their red (or the standard red) table wine is?

  4. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Two distinct, delightfully baby-like depictions of the Infant Christ!

    An “ailing Bacchus”? No relevant myth springs to mind… Something euhemeristic?

    My ‘history of interment practices’ is as deficient as my mythological knowledge: how ancient is the apparently separate interring of Papal entrails? And how varied – if at all – the techniques?

  5. wanda says:

    Thank you, Fr. Z., for sharing your beautiful images. I would never otherwise see such glorious sights – on this side of life, anayway. The Madonna of the Sparrow takes my breath away.

  6. Gerard Plourde says:

    Magnificent art and architecture, the See of Peter, enticing food, and an understanding of the value of setting aside time to appreciate these wonders! I hope God some day grants me the fulfillment of my desire to visit the Eternal City.

  7. Gratias says:

    Thank you for sharing this Father.

    I am in Rome today too. I could attend the Vespers at Trintá dei Pellegrini that started off the Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage but not more. It was beautiful and the Church full to listen to Mgr. Pozzo welcome all to Rome. Mrs. Gratias could attend Cardinal Burke’s Mass last Saturday, which was, she tells me, full of religious fervor. Today we went to Basilica of San Clemente and to the Church of St. Louis of France (which has great Caravaggios).

    Thank you Father Z for your unique service to the Church.

  8. RJHighland says:

    Beautiful, thank you Father for sharing, keep them coming. Tradition, beautiful art, beautiful architecture, good food, and good wine it is what being a Catholic is all about.

  9. Chiara says:

    Oh Father, thank you so much for this! I was on pilgrimage with a group led by my pastor about a month ago. It was wonderful, every day and every minute. We went to Rome, Cascia, Assisi, Siena, Florence, Milan, Padua and Venice (and points in between). There is no bad food in Italy. You have made me homesick (but in a very nice way!) If you go to Assisi, please share more of your beautiful pictures. Mille grazie!

  10. Rachel K says:

    Thank you for posting the wonderful howto of Santa Cecilia-I gasped aloud when I saw the sculpture of Cecilia. Stefano Maderno created this very moving piece after seeing her incorrupt body. I took the name Cecilia for confirmation, being a musician, and would love to visit the church. I understand that she lies on the spot where she was martyred, is this correct?
    The photo tour and descriptions are next best to actually visiting Rome! Thanks for taking the time to post Fr, I am sure you are being kept busy.
    May I beg a prayer for my family while you are in Rome please.

  11. Rachel K says:

    Of course howto means photo- the joys of spellcheck….

  12. Andkaras says:

    Love the depiction of St. Theresa. Hope you trekked enough miles to burn off some of those sumptuous calories.

  13. Charles E Flynn says:

    Thank you for posting the picture of the curved, complex, coffered ceiling with the hexagons, octagons, and crosses.

  14. Giuseppe says:

    Each person has his/her own favorite church in Rome. Father Z, you visited mine today. Santa Maria degli Angeli. Love how Michelangelo transformed the baths into a gorgeous church. I spend hours there each time I am in Rome.

    (Although I also have a soft spot in my hard for any Borromini church, especially Sant’Agnese in Agone on the Piazza Navona.)

    I don’t want to hijack the thread, but I am curious what each reader’s favorite Rome church is. And Father Z, what is your favorite church (and why)?

  15. Kathleen10 says:

    It all looks wonderful! Thank you for posting such beautiful photos. These are not likely sights I will see in this vale of tears either, so it’s a real treat to see them at all. It’s an entirely different world, Rome.

  16. jameeka says:

    Soul-felt thanks, FrZ.

  17. stephen c says:

    Saint Francis de Sales said that the saints are the sinners who keep on trying, Caravaggio’s painting was of a sick Bacchus – and a Bacchus who, based on the expression on his face and in his eyes, may have realized for the first time in his life that the pleasures of this world – pleasant but self-centered drunkenness, pleasant but self-centered amorous conquests, pleasant but self-centered pride – were no more than quick and frivolous thoughts, compared to the Jesus-recommended love of others offered to us by the only real Lord who has ever existed. That is what I see in his eyes, thanks to the genius of Caravaggio – who, by the way, could use our prayers – there is probably no chance that he (unlike Fra Angelico, Andrei Rublyov, Fra Fillipo Lippi, and many others with similar skills) is considered a candidate for wonderful sainthood ( but what do I know – maybe Caravaggio was in heaven hundreds of years before I was born ?)

  18. Jacques-Antoine Fierz says:

    Thank you Father. Just a remark. Borromini has 2 r. [Yes, and making blog posts from my phone while walking on cobbles doesn’t always allow spell checking. o{]:¬) ] He is an architect from Bissone (now Switzerland) and he was on the previous 100 CHF notes with the cupola of Sant’Ivo della Sapienza.
    It is said that San Carlino alle 4 fontane was the result of a bet with Bernini. Borromini affirmed that he could build a church that could be contained in one of the 4 pillars of the cupola of Saint Peter Basilica.
    Thank you for what you make to save souls!

  19. robtbrown says:

    Fr Z says,

    There is a hospital on the island.


    It has been a place of healing . . .

    That’s a different matter.

  20. robtbrown says:

    Santa Maria degli Angeli was one of my favorite places. St Bruno once lived in the ruins of the Baths when he was advising the pope, thus the famous statue and various paintings.

Comments are closed.