Early Christian, Medieval Travel Journal-Day 3

The cross in the sky, September 2, 2022, over the Baptistry of St. john the Lateran, Rome

Everything I’m about to tell you about what happened to us today is true. It’s not “based on a true story” or “inspired by actual events.” It actually happened.

We were supposed to meet tour guide at the Colosseum at 9:15 a.m. for our tour of it, the Forum, and surrounding sites, only our guide was not there. We waited, and then we waited some more. Still no guide. At 9:30, we asked The Wife, who is responsible for scheduling, to pull out the confirmation papers, so we could call and find out where the guide was.

After The Wife reviewed the papers, she asked, “What day is this?”

As it turned out we were early. A day early. The question was, “Now what?” We needed to find something in the area that fit into our GBS tour theme.

We settled on visiting the Church of St. John Lateran, which was less than a mile away. When we arrived at the square, we didn’t know what we were looking for, except that it was a church, but as I surveyed the landscape I saw a cross in the sky–I kid you not (see pic above)–and looking below the cross, a very old looking building with a rotunda.

Out of curiosity, we headed for that building, and upon entering found out it claimed to be the oldest baptistry in the world. Then Ann noticed the frescos on the walls to the right of our entry: they were all of Constantine the Great, the first a recreation of the sign of the cross in the sky, the second of his victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, and the third of his triumphant entry into the city of Rome.

It would have been easy to miss the building but for the sign of the cross in the sky. The cross looked like it was from the con trails of two jets, but what are the chances? And in the sign of a cross? And hanging over the baptistry dedicated to Constantine? With the very event of the sign preserved in a fresco on the wall? The day after we visited the Milvian Bridge? Call it a coincidence, but isn’t it easier to explain as the sovereign intervention of God, who is willing to be as intimately involved in our lives as we would have Him?

After the baptistry, we walked through the plaza and found our way around to the church. The church is purportedly the oldest basilica in the Western world and it, not St. Peters, serves as the cathedral church of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope.

After our morning adventure and the sign in the sky, anything we could see the rest of the day was just icing on the cake. We took a tour of the Pantheon, a 1,900 year old pagan temple built for “all the gods” but converted to a church and rededicated to the one true God in 609 A.D..

We then enjoyed lunch at an Italian restaurant just off the square near the Pantheon. After lunch, as we way made our way back to the hotel, we made a quick stop at the Trevi Fountain, a beautiful Baroque fountain built in the 18th century, with no connection to Kingdom history, except that it was commissioned by a pope.

But it didn’t matter; we had already seen what the Lord wanted us to see and heard from Him in the process in much the same way Constantine had heard from Him and then changed the world. That makes for quite a good day. GS

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