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Antiquities

One of the most romantic shrines of pilgrimage in Rome is the church of St. Onofrio. It is situated in the Trastevere, that portion of the city beyond the Tiber whose inhabitants boast of their pure descent from the ancient Romans. A steep ascent on the slope of the Janiculum, through a somewhat squalid but picturesque street, and terminating in a series of broad steps, leads up to it from the Porta di San Spirito, not far from the Vatican. The ground here is open and stretches away, free from buildings, to the walls of the city.

Marble-hunting is one of the regular pursuits of the visitor in Rome. The ground in almost every part of the ancient city is strewn with fragments of historical monuments. The largest and most valuable pieces have long since been removed by builders and sculptors, to fashion some Papal palace, or to adorn some pretentious church; and at the present day, in almost every stone-mason's shed, blocks of marble belonging to ancient edifices may be seen in process of conversion into articles of modern furniture.

Among the numberless objects of interest to be seen in Rome, a very high place must be assigned to the Codex Vaticanus, probably the oldest vellum manuscript in existence, and the richest treasure of the great Vatican Library. This famous manuscript, which Biblical scholars designate by the letter B, contains the oldest copy of the Septuagint, and the first Greek version of the New Testament.

The Gospel first came to Europe in circumstances similar to those in which it came into human history. Through poverty, shame, and suffering—through the manger, the cross, and the sepulchre—did our Saviour accomplish the salvation of the world; through stripes and imprisonment, through the gloom of the inner dungeon and the pain and shame of the stocks, did Paul and Silas declare at Philippi the glad tidings of salvation. Out of the midnight darkness which enveloped the apostles of the Cross, as they sang in the prison, came the marvellous light that was destined to illumine all Europe.

I know nothing more delightful than a walk to a country church on a fine day at the end of summer. All the lovely promises of spring have been fulfilled; the woods are clothed with their darkest foliage, and not another leaflet is to come anywhere.

It was the proud boast of the ancient Romans that all roads led to their city. Rome was the centre and mistress of the world; and as the loneliest rill that rises in the bosom of the far-off mountain leads, if followed, to the ocean, so every path in the remotest corner of the vast empire conducted to the great gilded column in the Roman Forum, upon which all distances without the walls were marked. To the Romans the world is indebted for opening up communications with different countries. They were the great engineers and road-makers of antiquity.

A part of the monotonous coast-line of Palestine extends into the Mediterranean considerably beyond the rest at Carmel. In this bluff promontory the Holy Land reaches out, as it were, towards the Western World; and like a tie-stone that projects from the gable of the first of a row of houses, indicating that other buildings are to be added, it shows that the inheritance of Israel was not meant to be always exclusive, but was destined to comprehend all the countries which its faith should annex.

In the fork where a cross-road called the Via Ardeatina branches off from the Appian Way, is a little homely church with the strange name of "Domine quo Vadis." It is associated with one of the most beautiful legends of the early Christian Church touchingly told by St. Ambrose. The Apostle Peter, fleeing from the persecution under Nero that arose after the burning of Rome, came to this spot; and there he saw a vision of the Saviour bearing His cross with His face steadfastly set to go to the city.

No spot on earth has a grander name or a more imposing history than the Roman Forum. Its origin takes us far back to geological ages—to a period modern indeed in the inarticulate annals of the earth, but compared with which even those great periods which mark the rise and fall of empires are but as the running of the sands in an hour-glass. It opens up a wonderful chapter in the earth's stony book. Everywhere on the site and in the neighbourhood of Rome striking indications of ancient volcanoes abound.

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