The Christian Church is the greatest
organized power on earth, and we are now standing in the home of its
traditional representative. This is one of the eleven thousand
rooms and halls of the Vatican in Rome, the official residence of the
Pope. We look almost 220 feet toward the east down this stately
hall between the frescoed piers under that ceiling alive with saints
and angels and flying cherubs; and yet even this is not the largest
room in the vast library. There is another just behind us, a
fifth of a mile long!
The magnificence of this stately hall is appropriate to its service,
for it is here that some of the most rare and valuable books in the
whole world are being preserved. Those cabinets that stand on
both sides of the corridor guard behind their carved doors printed
volumes and ancient manuscripts of which no duplicates exist.
Glass cases, like that one just ahead of us at the left, give us
opportunity for a brief glance at a Bible faithfully written in Greek
by a 4th century Father; a copy of Virgil, patiently traced by hand in
some lonely monastery sixteen hundred years ago - one of the few
survivals from that far-off day which helped bridge the gulf of time
and let us 20th century men and women know what men and women were
thinking while Augustus Caesar was lord of the earth.
The table beyond the glass case on the left is itself a work of art in
bronze and onyx; the tall vase which it holds is a beautiful creation
of Sevres porcelain, used as a baptismal font for the Prince Imperial,
heir of Napoleon III. It was afterwards sent here as a gift to
Pious IX. The other vase is of alabaster and was a present from
the Khedive of Egypt. This room and all those adjoining rooms
are filled with such mementoes of the famous and great.
through the Stereoscope, by D. J. Ellison,
with special "keyed" maps. Pub. by Underwood & Underwood.
Library of the Vatican, Rome, Italy.