If you knew that "Basilica Sancti Petri" is St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome, then your high school Latin teacher is very happy right now, or, if you're like me and didn't pay attention in Latin class, you may have a career in photography.
Rome has thousands of treasures and during my November 2014 trip, I decided to focus primarily on some of the famous Christian sites in the city. I started the day with a walk through the catacombs that spread below Rome - they don't permit photography out of respect for the dead, but it was one of the most spectacular places we went. The catacombs hold some of the earliest paintings and representations of Jesus Christ because they were made before it was permissible to practice Christianity. We then began a tour of several of the most famous churches around Rome, ending at the main attraction - Vatican City.
The day we were there was actually a huge celebration as six people were canonized (see the Vatican Website for more information) in a mass led by Pope Francis. There were thousands of people in attendance, so we timed our arrival in Vatican City for after the mass ended in hopes of avoiding the crowds and having a chance to go into St. Peter's Basilica.
I am fascinated by the history and power of the Christian Church and was excited to see the place that millions of people consider some of the most sacred ground in the world. As a photographer, I couldn't just run and take a pic and dash away - I had to appreciate how wars had been fought and lives changed on this one location. Even if you aren't a religious person, standing inside St. Peter's Church will move you.
But how do you capture something like this? It's huge, ornate, huge, and did I mention huge? I suddenly felt like my super wide angle 14mm was insufficient! So rather than trying to get the whole thing into one photograph, I decided to choose one part of the Basilica and focus my attention on photographing that part. Although I don't participate in church, I figured I'd look up for some divine inspiration - I mean this of all places would be the place for divine inspiration! And there it was.... the ceiling. I could stare at it for days with all the intricate details and work, but I only had a few minutes.
This shot I think really captures the power of the church and the Basilica, although it's certainly understated compared to the entire church.