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and a new Pope - May Day 2005



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Knights Hospitaller / Knights of Malta / Knights of St John


The road up the Aventine Hill past Santa Sabina ends in the quiet, unpeopled and tree framed Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta.  On one side is the entrance gate to the Priory occupied by the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta ( = Knights Hospitaller or Knights of St John of Jerusalem).  It is possible to organize a morning visit to see the church and beautiful gardens with a view of St Peters if you phone 0667581234.  We were not organized, so we just joined the little queue outside the closed gate  and photographed the dome of St Peters through the keyhole.


The Knights Hospitaller started out in Jerusalem when a group of Amalfians set up a hospice, before the first crusade (1095 - 1099), to look after pilgrims.  Later they became a military order and were joined in the early 1100s by the historically higher profile Knights Templar


Unlike the Templars, the Hospitallers are still going strong in various manifestations (heard of St John's Ambulance?) - but you won't find as many books about them around. 


Link to more books about Templars and Hospitallers.


Knights Hospitaller Chapel of St Basil - Toller Fratrum, Dorset



A keyhole view of Saint Peters from the Aventine Hill








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Back down the hill .......






Early morning San Pietro in Vaticano before the crowds




San Pietro in Vaticano - October 2006






Piazza San Pietro, May Day 2005




Piazza San Pietro, May 1 2005




May Day 2005 - a large crowd gathers to see the first balcony appearance of the new Pope Benedict XVI.  Bramante's original design was based on a Greek cross, but this was later changed to a Latin cross, which means that the famous Michelangelo dome disappears from view as you get closer to the church facade.











The 2005 May Day crowds in the Piazza San Pietro were mostly Italian, energized, and fun to be part of.  By contrast, when we returned later in the week to have a peek inside, the opposite was the case - a situation not helped by the fact that from Bernini's huge and ghastly baldacchino (for which part of the Pantheon portico was sacrificed) outwards this is not a "Paradox place" anyway!






The only reason we had persevered this far was Michelangelo's Pieta, crowded out and glassed in so another nutter can't attack it, but still one of the most sublimely beautiful sculptures in the world.






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