A resurrection theme on the tomb of Duke Wilhelm V of Berg, St Lambertus, Düsseldorf (detail)
St Lambertus, Düsseldorf: The tomb of Duke Wilhelm V of Berg, called “The Rich Man”. Made from black marble and alabaster by Gerhard Scheben 1596-99. Below this tomb a vault was excavated, hosting various members of the House of Berg and their successors.
The epitaph of dean Philipp Dobereiner († 1576), a Mannerist piece of art, next to the big automatic clock which still works after four centuries. Frauenkirche Munich, choir chapel.
The Arch of Constantine (finished 315), Rome, Italy, next to the Colosseum.
The monument to Pope Alexander VII in St Peter’s basilica, Rome. This is one of the most famous papal monuments; it was created by the 80-year old Bernini in 1678, and even more spectacular than these lively sculptures (they represent the pope and various virtues) is the skeleton of Death which is partly covered by a heavy marble pall.
The monument to Gregory XIII by Camillo Rusconi (1723; details). The expressiveness and virtuosity of these sculptures have always amazed me.
The St Peter’s basilica is like a church of churches. Here we are looking at the altar of St Leo the Great (who was the first pope to be buried here) within the Our Lady of the Column Chapel. This altar also contains relics of Leo II, Leo III, Leo IV, and Gregory XIII. The altarpiece by Alessandro Algardi (1602-1625) depicts the confrontation between Leo the Great and Attila, king of the Huns, which eventually saved Rome from destruction.
The official list of popes. And official means official: this list - a big marble plate - can be seen on a wall in St Peter’s, Vatican City. There’s only one restriction: “in hac basilica sepulti” means it’s the list of popes laid to rest in St Peter’s. It’s a list of great men and little minds, tightly packed. A list of saints here and criminals there. The history of popes is a history of both human greatness and complete failure.
Some interesting details: the gaps between 199 and 461, and between 1303 and 1389. Popes in late antiquity were often buried in catacombes (persecution of Christians), canonized (their relics were distributed among various parishes), or buried elsewhere. The second gap in the 14th century was the time of Avignon Papacy, when the popes were under influence of the French king, residing in the papal palace in Avignon.
(The point of time this picture was taken was 2004, thus the list is ending with John Paul I.)