Today, the cardinals were locked in the Sistine Chapel, under that glorious ceiling. Now that they have elected a new pope (and what a potentially gutsy choice!) they will have time to appreciate it. If they really thought it out, they’d bring in some cots so they could lie down and admire it for hours without ending up with a stiff neck.
But when we were in the Vatican two weeks ago, my eyes were going in the opposite direction: the floors. The magnificent, gorgeous floors. Some in mosaic …
… and others in the Cosmati style.
The Cosmati work is named after a single family — the Cosma – Romans who for generations (in the 12th and 13th centuries) made these intricate geometric floors of cut stones such as red porphyry, green serpentine, and various white and colored marbles. Glass paste was also used, and the materials were cut into triangles, squares, and circles that formed incredibly complex patterns.
While the Vatican floors may be younger than the floors laid by the Cosmati themselves (in other words, the Vatican floors date merely from the Renaissance), those colorful spirals and circles in the Cosmati style are so beautiful they can pull your eyes down off of a Raphael or yes, even a Michelangelo.
They say the new pope is a humble man. Perhaps when he’s strolling the Vatican Museums alone some night (wouldn’t you if you were the Pope?), he’ll look down and wonder at the amazing floors.