Notes From Italy, Vol. 4: Naked In Church

Michelangelo_-_Creation_of_AdamVol. 4 in my Notes From Italy series.

If I had to list the most ubiquitous things in Italy, that list would certainly include two items I’ve mentioned in previous Notes From Italy posts, Tiny Vehicles & Food.

Also competing for a top slot on that list:

All Things Catholicism

Perhaps it’s stating the obvious, with Italy being the birthplace of the Catholic Church, but however much I knew what I was getting into, I was still amazed and occasionally overwhelmed by the dominant place the religion holds in the country.

Harboring my share of criticisms of the Church, but nonetheless able to admire the expressions of devotion manifest in the empirically beautiful art and architecture that abound in Italy, my family and I visited quite a few churches, chapels, cathedrals, basilicas, etc., and having done so encountered, up close and personal, a rather interesting cognitive dissonance:

Despite the fact that the Catholic Church is a bastion of conservatism, and Italy the center of the Catholic universe …

… there are a LOT of naked people, basically everywhere!

No experience brought this seeming contradiction to mind more than our visit to the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.

Let’s suppose there was a person who knew nothing about Catholicism or Christianity, and had no idea what a chapel is, but at the same time was someone who has had some exposure to even the mildest form of pornography. Well, I truly believe that if this supposed person walked into the Sistine Chapel, at first glance, they might just get the wrong idea.

In other words, there is a LOT of skin, and buttocks, and breasts, and nipples, and the occasional penis … in just about every direction you look!

last judgment

At the same time, every few minutes or so, the guards yell out to the crowd to stop talking and stop taking photos, because, they say, it is a very holy place.

Go figure!

Up Next: Notes From Italy, Vol. 5: Miscellaneous One Liners

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