As I approached the Pantheon in Rome, Italy I was overwhelmed with awe. It is an amazing architecturally mathematical structure, built in ancient times, holding the intent of unifying the people of its time with a temple where all Gods were welcome. The Pantheon is a symbol of divinity as it stands today for peace, unity and beauty.
The name Pantheon is derived from the Greek, meaning, “to every God”. Marcus Agrippa originally commissioned the building, which was later rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 126 AD. The Pantheon is known as the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome measuring 142 feet from floor to rooftop and equally as wide. It is well preserved and thriving as a marvel of our modern world and to this writer an inspiration of harmony both in structure and in presence.
Entering the Pantheon, I felt pulled toward the center right below the large oculus, 142 feet above. The oculus measures 30 feet across and is the buildings only source of light. A stream of sunlight welcomes visitors. The opening lends an ethereal presence of God for all who enter. In an effort to share the moment I snapped several pictures and then found a seat on a heavy wooden pew lined in front of the main alter. Taking in the splendor and a deep breath, I found myself praying for the nations of the world to find the unity I felt in this ancient space. Silently, I understood that the eye of God, as the oculus represents was truly upon us, watching and supporting people now and through the threads of times.
The building is beautiful and powerful, but more imminent is the feeling it calls forth for unification of all tribes in our world. “Come in, and gather all of you, everyone is welcome”. I felt such conviction in regards to my observation that I tested the impression by returning to the Pantheon a few days later for a second time, finding of course the same significance of peace, unity, and beauty. The Pantheon reminds us that we are all one, as a people and that regardless of ones beliefs we can join in a place with the watchful, loving presence of God shining in upon on.
A few additional facts provide for the buildings practicality as it coffers some of Rome’s most honored citizen’s: Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto as well as Renaissance painter Raphael, and perhaps most interesting, the name sake for Pizza Margherita, Queen Margherita are entombed there in.
The Pantheon is currently used as a Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs”, informally known as “Santa Maria Rotonda”. Masses are held several times a week, often with worshipers having standing room only. The public is welcome free of charge to enter, stay, awe, take photographs and pray.
It appears that the ancients of Rome had a recipe for peace, appreciation for beauty, knowledge and the manpower to construct this timeless masterpiece. Since the Pantheon has proven to stand over centuries, perhaps all we modern people need to do is compliment this perseverance of presence by committing to the message of unity. “Come one and all and join here in this place.” And “To every God, welcome!”