On a scorching hot Wednesday morning, I made my pilgrimage to one of the must see places in Rome, St. Peter’s Basilica, located in Vatican City. As a young design student, I studied this great building and all its important architectural features. But seeing it in person, was nothing like I could have every imagined.
As I approached the structure, along the great mall, I could see a massive gathering of people within the square. Wednesday’s are special days in Rome as it is the day Pope Francis gives a public mass to the people. I remember being taught that Bernini designed the square with two massive colonnades, four columns deep to symbolize arms of the church embracing visitors. Because of it’s colossal scale, it felt more like an ‘awe’ moment than a simple ‘hello’.
Once I got past the guards, and the barricades, which was quite alarming, I was surprised to find that no matter where I stood, I could see some glimpse of the Pope and his priests. I remember that this was also a major design feature to the square as it allowed ” the greatest number of people to see the Pope give his blessing…”
But, the one thing people forget to tell you is that the heat is unbearable. Despite my respect for his Holiness, I had to get out of the sun. Because of it’s shear size, the colonnade not only provides the symbolic embrace of the Church but also provided much need shade from the sun. This is where I got to truly experienced Bernini’s genius and appreciated traditional Doric architecture.