Well, how time does fly! We have not seen half of what you have seen, and we have only one day left to see it. We passed the Hassler last night and thought of you. This morning, I went to look up Grace and her Aunt, and we went to the Scala Sancta which, it is said, was brought to Rome from Jerusalem by the Empress Helena, [and] that it is the staircase of Pilate Palace, which our Lord ascended. It may be ascended only on the knees, so I did not go up. There are, however, so many pilgrims going up and down that they had to encase [the stairs] in wood to keep them from being worn out.
The next place we visited was the Basilica Laberanense. This beautiful church is entered by a bronze door, which was taken from the Forum. In the central nave are immense statues of the twelve Apostles. The Corsini Chapel has a beautiful altar and, in the burial vault below, a marble group representing holding the corpse of Christ. It is called “Pietat” and is by Ant. Montanti.
Under the high altar are deposited the heads of the Apostles Peter and Paul!!! Also a wooden altar, which was used by the first Pope, St. Peter [sic]!! This is the mother church of Christendom.
I enjoyed walking in the pretty cloister of this church, which is one of the most ancient and best preserved monasteries of Rome. It has four sides, each 100 feet long with 25 arches supported by elegant columns of different shapes.
Adjoining the church is the Lateran Palace, which has a fine collection of Mosaics and ancient sculptures, among them the famous portrait statue of Sophocles, the statue of the Ephesian Diana, and sarcophagi, found in 1858 in the Via Latina, an incomplete statues of a slave, also Mosaics of pugilists found in the Thermae (Baths) of Caracalla.
From here, we went into a car to go to the Post Office. They give you tickets for whatever distance you may go varying in price from 2¢ to 4¢, and you have to detain them for an inspector may step in and call for them at anytime. No mail for me and none at Cooks where I inquired.
Home and lunch, after which we decided to go for a ride. We hired a cab for 55¢ an hour and started for the old Appian Way. We passed the Forum and Coliseum, also the Thermae (Baths) of Carcalla. Here 16 centuries ago, 1,600 persons could bathe at the same time. They were decorated with beautiful statues, slabs and columns which were taken to different museums.
To explain the magnificence of these baths, furnishing them with free baths, bread, and circuses, I wish the present King would do the same for his subjects, and we would not meet so many dirty and begging Romans.
We next passed the Tomb of Scipio and the Columbarium, which latter contains the cells which were meant to receive the ashes of many dead. They had the shape of a dove house, from which the name is derived. These again contained many rows of where the urns with the ashes of the dead were inserted.
We then passed through the Porta S. Sebastiano (formerly Appia), built by Aurelian, destroyed during the Gothic wars, and rebuilt by Belisarius and Nurses. A little church to the left is very interesting, it is called Domine Quo Vadis and was built, according to a tradition, in the spot where Jesus met St. Peter, who was going away from Rome to escape martyrdom.
Struck with the vision, St. Peter asked in surprise, “Domine Quo Vadie?” Lord where goest thou? “I go to Rome.” St. Peter took the hint and turned back to suffer.
The next place which we visited are the Catacombs of St Callitus, the most important of all Christian cemeteries. We were shown around by a most comical old monk who spoke a mixture of French and English. He showed us the tombs of several of the first Popes which, when compared with those in St. Peters and other fine Churches, speak plainly of the growing wealth of the later Popes.
We each were given a taper for which we had to pay 20¢, and we now descended the steps leading down into the bowels of the earth. These steps were made in the third century. In one place, the room had been enlarged to form a transept with arches, and here was an altar where mass was read.
He asked us whether any of us were Catholics, and when no one spoke up, I told him that I was a Methodist, where upon he whispered in my ear, “You are going to the devil,” and I answered him in French, “Mais en jollie compagnie,” i.e., in good company, pointing to him. He laughed and said, “Mais non” (aber nicht).
Proceeding along the ascent of the Via Appia, we came to the tomb of Cecelia Metella, the conqueror of the Island of Crete, which is a very imposing heap of ruins with an immense Tower, well preserved. Following the road, we have a magnificent view of the Roman Campagna. Many of the old tombs, which are erected along this street, have been partly restored, among them the Tomb of Seneca, the rich and powerful philosopher, who had, at a little distance from this spot, a splendid villa, the temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva, the tombs of Pliny the younger, Licinius, Hilarius, etc.
In some places we saw some of the old paving of this most remarkable road of ancient Rome. We returned by the Military Road, which leads into the new Appian Way and brings us into Rome again.
A most delightful and instructive ride, at 7 o’clock we landed at our pension, and I sat down to write this after supper, or rather dinner, and, with this, I will close this letter. There is so much to be seen here that I am glad that we did not plan to stay longer for it is very tiresome, and I am getting enough of it as it is.
Mama and Emily send their love.We are anxious to get to Florence to get mail, although I feel satisfied that some of it must be here. I will try once more in the evening. Mama stands it fine, and you can see by my description that we are not overdoing it. If I get time at Florence, I will return my Book of Rome.
Editor’s note: “Aber nicht” means “but not.”