Today’s memorial of the dedication of the basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul reminds us of the importance of the Church in Rome, as a universal entity, which exists throughout the world until the end of time. It also calls to mind that the Church, founded by Christ, was established in the world under the leadership and guidance of these two Apostles, collaborators and friends in life and death, meeting their end in the bloody persecution under the deviant anti-Christian emperor Nero, in the precincts of that very city that would be called ‘eternal’. The two basilicas are built over the sites of the martyrdom of the two Apostles, and where their bones now rest until the parousia and the resurrection.
The basilica of Saint Peter is perhaps the most famous church in the world, decorated by the greatest of renaissance artists, not least Michelangelo, his Sistine chapel, the immense and precise statuary (the indescribable Pieta), as well as the delicate proportions of the massive cupola, which was considered an architectural and engineering impossibility, until the same Michelangelo’s incomparable mind discovered a solution in making the shape almost spherical, but with a slight ellipse, scarcely noticeable, much like God did with the orbits of the planets, as Johannes Kepler would deduce a century and a half later.
Like the cosmos, the Church is a finely crafted jewel in the hand of God, a precise spiritual, moral and intellectual edifice, showing with clarity and precision the way and the truth to the fullness of life. There is no other. We must use our wits and our own minds to see past the current confusion and obfuscation to this central mystery of our faith. Any other path must eventually, in some way or other, lead to Rome, to Christ, to God.
So we should trod, with Peter and Paul and all the saints, that straight and narrow way that will bring us where we belong, here and into eternity.