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244

(1887) [MARC] Author: Viktor Rydberg Translator: Alfred Corning Clark With: Hans Anton Westesson Lindehn
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244 ROMAN DA YS.
Ecclesiastical art has by predilection made the ascen-
sion of Simon Magus its subject. The capitol and forum
with their elaborate architecture, Nero and the splendor
of his imperial train, the fear-inspiring beauty of Helene,
the apostles praying amid the throng of people on the
forum—all this was alluring to the pencil ; though it was
hard to give the picture dignity, as the leading group had
nevertheless to be the sorcerer falling headlong, and his
flying imps, with their proper outfit of horns and tails.
One of these paintings is to be found in the geograph-
ical gallery of the Vatican ; another, by Vanni, over the
altar of Peter and Paul, in St. Peter’s church. The
beautiful church of Maria degli angeli, originally a hall
in the Baths of Diocletian, but re-created into a Chris-
tian temple by the hand of Michael Angelo, has no less
than two paintings on the same subject. One of them is
a copy of that in St. Peter’s church, where the same tra-
dition is also illustrated in marble.
Close to the triumphal arch of Titus, between the
basilica of Maxentius and Hadrian’s temple to Venus-
Roma, lies the little church of Francesca Romana. Among
the relics shown there, is a stone (inserted in the wall and
guarded by a grating,) in which are seen impressions of
the apostles’ knees ; for on that stone, they say, knelt
Peter and Paul, when the demons carried Simon through
the air. This is farther confirmed by an inscription in
Italian, over the stone, which, indeed, only speaks of
Peter ; but a priest, versed in church writings, on the spot
assured the author, that one of the prints on the stone
was undoubtedly from St. Paul ; and he based this opin-
ion of his upon the liber pontificalis and Gregory of
Tours.

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