Rome is not a Christian city.
Christians live in Rome, Christians have built in Rome, Christians have shaped the look, history and destiny of Rome, Christians sustain the life of Rome but Rome is not a Christian city.
One might content that there is no such thing as a Christian city – we are but strangers and sojourners in a foreign land and have here no earthy city. This is the deepest truth.
Now Christians have founded many cities and built them up from nothing. You might say that Chicago is a Christian city in that sense. Most people would laugh at such notion but Chicago has Christian foundations. Rome does not.
It is thought that people have inhabited the area of Rome for about 10,000 years. The tradition of the founding of the city of Rome dates to 783 b.c. when Romulus slew his brother Remus as the fought to determine where the city should be founded, the Capitoline Hill or the Palatine Hill. Romulus one and founded the city on the Capitoline Hill.
This is a myth rooted in deep history, one inseparable from the other. It is all pagan, coming out of the tales and legend and history of pagan peoples. The meager city grew to a great empire roughly a century before any Christians arrived there. By that time the city was the heart of a great pagan empire, the city of divine emperors and heartland of heathen worship, with the great temple of Jupiter dominating the Roman Forum. Rome’s founders and masters are all sons of the ancient worship of the pagan gods. Demons or myths we know not, but obeisance to these are falsehoods are at the foundation of this great city.
The claim of Jesus Christ of this city was cemented by the martyrdom’s of Peter and Paul. Our Lord claimed this city by the prophesy of the death of Peter and through His Divine Will manifested in that martyrdom in the Circus of Nero on the Vatican Hill. The rest, as they say, is history.
It is worth noting that the Vatican Hill is not one of the seven hills of Rome, the markers of the ancient city. You see, every Protestant since Luther has carried on about the Vatican being the whore of Babylon in the Book of Revelation. It is important to note that the Vatican Hill is NOT one of the seven hills of Rome, it lies outside the foundations of the ancient city of the pagan lords who became masters of the world.
I hold the same opinion that St. Augustine did in City of God, Rome and her empire were but vehicles for the Gospel, no more and no less. Thus the loss of the empire was little to grieve. Ours is an empire of souls, a reign of God. The petty pagan lords built their castles but they will all fall to ruin.
This city is the great example of that. The glory of the pagan empire is ashes and crumbling rock. The palace of the divine emperors are ruins in which every two-bit tourist and vapid teenager runs plot around self-absorbed in cell phones. It is a crumbling testament to a mighty power, long since fallen.
For a while the Popes, the Vicars of Christ and heirs to the keys given power by the Word made Flesh and blood shed on the Vatican Hill and off the Ostian Way (that’s St. Paul.) They ruled and built and taught. O yes, there were wars and sackings and revolts and plots and exiles, but they reigned over Rome. The reign of their Christ and Lord spread from this city to nearly every corner of of the world and the Vicars of Christ became the Fathers of Princes and Kings.
But that too was destined to fall. This is a city that has no masters nor lords. She has a pagan heart and a demonic soul. When the rule of the Vicars fell it was to much lesser lords. Heathens like their political forebears but of a much lesser much lamer sort. The Papal States fell and were replaced by a sham Kingdom with fool kings. It was then that Romans, if there were any left, disappeared and the Tuscans and Sardinians and Umbrians and Sicilians and all the rest came to rule. This kingdom fell quickly and was replaced by Il Duce, a much shorter though more brutal reign. Soon the Nazi came but lasted even a lesser time than Il Duce.
When it all ended Rome was a modern city. She has not invited modernity in but came nonetheless.
This city is ancient and always will be and heathen to its core. She will never welcome the mere modernist or the simple secularist. This city is religious to its core. Though which religion and what gods have long be debated. New little lords have come to rule over their petty empire of money. The Vicar of Christ remains, holding the Keys of the Kingdom but still exiled on the Vatican Hill, he does not rule the city and all over the earth the Kingdom of his Lord is contested. It will all fall one day for not one stone will be left upon another and all will cry out ‘let the the mountains fall on us and the hills cover us.’
Blessed John Henry Newman came to study in Rome after his conversion and later wrote that he was certain that the Antichrist would arise in Rome. This is not a new idea and it is certainly one that I believe. There is a dark and ancient evil in this city, and evil born before time and brought to root deep in the hills of this ancient marshland when one brother slew another and a long history of the rape and pillage of nations began. Ancient Rome promised peace, and brought it to the nations by the edge of sword, the justice of the pyre and on the backs of slaves.
The Cross of Christ did triumph, destroyed that empire and brought the Gospel to the world. But the ancient foe is ever arrogant and there is a red dragon that lives here and calls every evil and darkness to itself. Thus the reign of the Vicars has always been contested here, no matter how many martyrs or saints, no matter how beautiful the churches, how divine the music, how deep the charity and self sacrifice, the reign of the Vicars always has been and always will be contested in this city.
There is great beauty here, much wisdom, deep charity and divine teaching. This is greatest city in the world and will be until the end of all things. But she is a city at war with the Gospel, always has been and always will be, heathen all the way to her foundations.
I am proud of the Christianity of Rome and all that, by the Will of God, the Church of Rome has given to the world. Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lord and His princes shed their blood here and, by His prophecy and promise, the heirs of those princes still rule the Church of God in charity and truth. When the Son of Man comes will He find Faith on the earth? Yes, He will find it in Rome.
But Rome will not be faithful, she cannot be. To know this is to truly know Rome, what she is and what she is for. It is not pessimism nor faithlessness, it is merely true. I am privileged to live here and grateful as well. But I see this place for what it is and praise God for it.
Pray for the Pope, pray for the Roman Curia, pray for those of us who live here.
I love you all and always will.
O felix Roma!