Looking up at the Vatican. Mesmerized!


A visit to the Vatican could be one of the most rewarding trips for quite a lot of reasons. People probably do it for some personal reasons. The Vatican could mean different things to different people.

As the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, The Holy See, it is appealing to Catholics. It is also a City State, a state within a city, walled around and separated from the city of Rome. That has got to be fascinating!

St Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in the world. It is worth visiting. I ran into many non-Catholics at the Vatican suggesting that the appeal of the place goes beyond religion. The architecture is centuries old and awesome. It still looks pristine attesting to the power of ongoing maintenance of the structures.

There are many people, saints and popes, buried in St. Peter’s and particularly in the mausoleums under St Peter’s Basilica. There are visible bodies of Popes on display in St. Peter’s Basilica. That gave me an eerie feeling!

A visit to the Vatican could be educational: Lots of things to learn about the architecture, paintings, administration, crowd control, and the economy – the tourist economy! Understanding how this place has defied centuries of intrigues and wars is a great lesson in itself!

The Vatican Museum is unlike any other museum in the world. It contains both religious and secular artifacts, some dating back centuries. The ceilings, paintings, archeological displays, maps, sculptures,   ornate doors, archways and the long corridors are breathtaking in their intricate designs and details. One wonders about the master craftsmanship that must have gone into making these happen. Some of these must have taken years to complete.

I was mesmerized and fascinated by the intricate designs of the ceilings, the archways, the doors and the paintings. Looking up at the Vatican could provide lessons in biblical and church history, artisanship, master craftsmanship, endurance, perseverance, and above all, the role of planning and implementation in achieving a desired target or goal in life.

It was not easy getting adequate photos. The moving crowd and the constant jostling, the lighting situation, sunlight streaming in through the roofs and windows casting reflections on the walls and ceilings make such a venture a challenge. If you have all the time in the world, it is doable. Here are some selected photos of ‘up’ at the Vatican. Admire them and see what you can learn from them!

Further information could be obtained at www.vaticanstate.va/


The Holy Family Shrine Gretna Nebraska

The Holy Family Shrine is a Catholic shrine dedicated to the Holy Family. It is located along highway I - 80 in Gretna Nebraska, about 15 minutes by road outside Omaha city limit. It is located on an expanse rolling field and consists of a visitor center and a chapel in a serene setting. The chapel is readily visible from the highway below.

It also has a grotto of the Virgin Mary. A huge crucifix spire directly faces the highway.

Recently some additional construction, although incomplete at the time of my last visit, is been done to include a walkway and Stations of the Cross on the North end of the property. The new walkway through surrounding field should provide plenty of space to wander and reflect. There were lots of butterflies this past summer around the structures. That should excite butterfly lovers to visit this serene place.

It is generally very quiet and peaceful when there is sparse number of visitors or when you are lucky to be the lone visitor. There is a gift shop in the visitor center. There was no admission fee at the times I visited in the past but donations and patronage of the gift items in the visitor center are welcome.

I visited on weekends spending a few minutes to an hour about once or twice in the year. I often took my visitors from out of town to the shrine. It is a place of solace when you are looking for specific answers to specific questions.

I have included photos taken both in the summer and fall, so you could choose when to visit!


More information about the project and site is available on the ‘holyfamilyshrineproject.com’.