The Meta Church

by Andrew Stein

Rome is old
Rome is new
It’s tale’s fold
As times flew

By this time of the family vacation in Rome, there is a clear morning routine of showering, breakfast, commenting on how lucky we are about the perfectly cool weather, and so on.  For breakfast, Julie, I, sometimes George, and sometimes Mom would go to a nearby cafe for dopios and pastries.  The dopios we drink immediately and then we return to the apartment with the pastries soon after.

Roman Forum

After we figure out a way for all of us to get out of the apartment close to on time, we again meet up with Alessio to tour around ancient Rome.  The idea that these monuments are more than two millennia old takes a little time to register.  In California, if there is a building that is more than two centuries old, it is considered ancient; however that designation requires another order of magnitude of years in Rome.  The coliseum, the pantheon, and the forum are in such good condition despite their age, many still stand tall.  Because the factor of safety in those buildings’ columns is high, the main thing missing from them are materials that have now been “recycled” around Rome in palaces, homes, and the Vatican just to name a couple.

Ancient Rome

After a morning filled with Rome’s antiquities, we explore the Basilica of Saint Clement, which I have renamed Rome’s meta church because it is a church made of churches.  The structure is three-tiered with each tier serving as a religious building in its time.  The bottom tier was home to Roman nobleman with rooms set aside for worship.  The middle tier was a 4th century basilica.  And the top tier, built around the year 1100 is St. Clement’s Basilica.  This is the clearest demonstration that we see during our time of Rome that Rome is a city of layers that have been built on top of each other over the ages.