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Pentecost at the Pantheon

One of the sights to see in Rome is Pentecost at the Pantheon. Since my Jubilee pilgrimage to Rome, they have set up pews and dressed up the altar to bring further attention to the fact that this most-famous of pagan temples is also (since the 6th century) a consecrated church. For the feast of Pentecost, at the end of the liturgy Rome’s fire department drops thousands of red rose petals from the oculus to the floor below, an image of the Spirit appear like tongues of flame around the apostles gathered in the Upper Room. To add to the effect, the sun was clearly cutting through the coouds of incense smoke, and a white bird chose just that moment to fly in and start flying circles around the falling flowers. (One person in the assembly gasped, “look, a dove!” which would have been fitting, but it was just a seagull…)

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