An Italian Sculptural Pilgrimage - part X

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome (LEO Design)

Join me on my summer holiday as I travel (mostly) through Italy—as always, in search of beautiful sites, sculpture and all things sculpture-ish. 

Saint Michael, the protector, is one of the three Archangels recognized by the Catholic Church (alongside Saints Gabriel and Raphael). An enormous bronze statue of him stands guard above his namesake Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome—a fortress overlooking the River Tiber. The sculpture was modeled by Flemish artist Peter Anton von Verschaffelt and installed in 1753. He is shown sheathing his signature sword, commemorating the end of the plague in 590 AD.

The Castel itself has a much older history. It was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family (between 134 and 139 AD). His ashes were interred there in 138 AD. In 401 AD, it was converted into a military fortress; in 410 AD, it was sacked by the Visgoths and the interred remains of several Roman emperors were scattered. In the 14th Century, it was converted into a papal castle, and the elevated passageway between the castle and the Vatican has been used more than once by a pope seeking protection during attack or insurrection. In Puccini's opera, Tosca (1900), the third act takes place on the roof of the castle—culminating in the heroine throwing herself from atop the structure, once the tallest building in Rome.

We'll continue our summer holiday tomorrow. 


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