The Pantheon is deeply weighted with marble and Roman cement and two thousand years of pagan and Christian history. It’s capped by the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome and it looms heavy and colossal in an area of the city dense with alleys and old buildings. The small piazza outside the Pantheon slopes into the portico as though it were tilting under the load of the building.
Among all this weight floated rose petals today. They fell from the Oculus in the middle of the dome during a special mass to celebrate Pentecost.
The unlikely sight of flowers cascading from the sky to the rotunda below made me cry. This involuntary response wasn’t preceded by a noticeably powerful emotion and so it surprised me. I didn’t feel the tears until my cheeks were wet.
But I was moved by the moment, as if awed by a brilliant sunset or some other natural wonder. Nothing less.
Maybe my tears fell in harmony with the petals: pushed over the edge of my body like the roses thrown from the roof of the Pantheon.
The floating petals reflected the sunlight and some of the red burst into flecks of explosive brightness. It was all rather magical.
And unbearably beautiful.
A few other bits: