The rose petals rain on the Pentecost
Apart from being a universal symbol of beauty, love and perfection, red roses also have a very mystical meaning for Catholic people and embody the Holy Spirit and the blood shed by Jesus Christ to save mankind from Evil.
The early Christians in Rome already celebrated the descending of the Spirit, in the shape of tongues of fire, to Virgin Mary and to the apostles after the ascension of Jesus with a rain of rose petals on their heads on the Pentecost, that is on the 50th day after Easter.
Locals and faithful have continued to do the same until our days.
This year the festival falls on June 9th. As every year, a solemn Pentecost mass will be held inside the wonderful ancient Roman building known as Pantheon around 10.30, followed by a spectacular rain:
thousand and thousand red petals will float at noon through the large opening on top of the ceiling down to the heads of people and the marble floor.
This is really a magical moment, which evokes a universal religious feeling, beyond and across any cultural, social or religious difference, with the shower becoming the symbol of man’s immersion back in Mother Nature and his reconnection with the Universe.
The Pantheon is the most perfect setting ever for such a ceremony!
First built by will of Augustus, founder and first ruler of the Roman empire, in the 1st century BC and redesigned after a fire by the emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century AD, it was originally aimed at celebrating all the gods of Rome and later converted into a Catholic Church devoted to Mary.
Indeed, since the beginning, its astounding, unique shape has hidden much more than just this. Everything inside and outside follows the golden section and the perfect geometrical harmony and rigorous mathematical rules of the universe. Its interior diameter is equal in size to the height from pavement to oculus: it could house a sphere inscribed into a square.
In a word, it synthesizes the perfection of Nature.
Its most striking feature is the 9m diameter opening to the sky on top, known as the “oculus”, which is the focus of the Pentecost ritual, when firemen climb on the roof and drop the red rose petals down through it. As the sole source of natural light inside the building, apart from the entrance,
this opening makes the Pantheon an extraordinary architectural invention and a very special place that leaves anyone speechless.
The sunshine enters through it with a different direction in the different hours of the day and is captured and drawn in such a wonderful and wise way that a great sense of holiness emanates from every single architectural detail.
It is like a breach to a different world: standing in the very center of the floor and raising your eyes to the oculus makes you feel as if you were embraced by the universe and would embody the main connecting element between the chthonic powers of Mother Earth lying under your feet and the celestial energies of the sky above your head. You can perceive the power of attraction of the universe and its call to always be conscious of your human nature, but at the same time ascend it - as Jesus - and head to the stars.
Even the ascension of Jesus finds its pagan roots here.
According to legend, the building was raised exactly in the place where Romulus, the first mythical king of Rome, ascended to the heavens, escorted by his divine father, the god Mars.
What a breath of universality and eternity...It comes full circle. And it is a perfect one!
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di Susanna Milani, P.I.11676951004