Friday, 13 December 2013

Angels From the Realms of Glory

Rome is full of angels. Here are five of my favourites.

Ponte Sant'Angelo is a good place to start. The ten angels on the bridge are each holding an instrument of Christ's passion.


They were designed by Bernini and completed by himself, his pupils and other artists. Bernini was responsible for the angel with the crown of thorns & the angel with the inscription 'I N R I'  but these statues are copies. Pope Clement IX, who had commissioned the angels,  realised that the Bernini statues  were too precious to be exposed to the elements. They can now be seen in the church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte.

 
Look upwards to the summit of Castel Sant'Angelo and you will see the Archangel Michael looking over you.
 
 
The statue celebrates a miraculous vision of Pope Gregory the Great in the sixth century. At the time the city was suffering a terrible plague. The pope organised processions in order to beg forgiveness & ask for the plague to be lifted.Just as Pope Gregory was about to enter St Peter's he saw a vision of the Archangel Michael sheathing his sword and the pestilence ceased. In honour of this event Hadrian's Mausoleum was renamed Castel Sant'Angelo.
The bronze statue was erected in the 18th century. The original marble statue from the 16th century can be seen inside the castle.
 
Tucked away in the tiny chapel of St Zenone, in the church of St Prassede, are the most exquisite angels you will ever see in mosaic form.
 
 
 The mosaics are the work of Byzantine artists and date from the ninth century.
 
A more recent angel can be seen in the Protestant Cemetery. The 'Weeping Angel' is an 1894 sculpture by William Wetmore Story which serves as a memorial to the artist and his wife.
 
 
My final choice of angels are by Canova & they adorn the monument to the last three family members of the House of Stuart in St Peter's Basilica.
 
 
The reversed torches that the angels hold symbolise the lost hopes of the exiled Stuarts.