Aug. 17, 2015
Rome, Italy - Georgetown University Head Men's Basketball Coach John Thompson said after the Hoyas win on Sunday night that, while he would be preparing for the team's next game (on Tuesday), he was eagerly looking forward to seeing the Vatican.
On Monday morning, fresh off a 74-64 win over Haukar Basket in Rome, the Hoyas and their travel party hopped on buses just before 10 a.m. and arrived at Vatican, where the team was met by its guides, who provided a tour of the Vatican City State, the walled enclave that exists within the city of Rome.
After going through the museum, the team was brought through the Fontana della Pigna (The Pine Cone), a former Roman fountain that now decorates a vast niche in the wall of the Vatican facing the Cortile della Pigna.
From there it was through to the Sistine Chapel, located in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of Pope Francis. Originally known as the Cappella Magna, the chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who restored it between 1477 and 1480. It is used today as the site for the Papal conclave, the process in which a new pope is selected. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the art work that decorates the interior, particularly the ceiling and The Last Judgement, by Michelangelo.
"I love it, it's just so beautiful," senior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (Indianapolis, Ind./North Central/Oak Hill) said. "I've never seen anything like it. You read about it and actually seeing it is completely different, words can't really describe it."
The tour then came out to St. Peter's Square, the plaza located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica. At the center of the square is an Egyptian obelisk, built on the site in 1586. The square was designed almost 100 years later by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, including the massive Tuscan colonnades, four columns deep, which embrace visitors in the "maternal arms of Mother Church."
The team toured St. Peter's Basilica, considered the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture. The church is the burial site of its namesake, St. Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ. The current basilica, replacing the old one of the fourth century AD, began in 1506 and was completed in 1626.
"The architecture here is crazy," freshman center Jessie Govan (Queens Village, N.Y./Wings Academy) said. "The detail -- from the wrinkles in bodies to muscle definition to buttons on coat -- it's just ridiculous. This is the second church and they built it on his burial site. And then to see how they diagram the sizes of other churches in the world compared to St. Peter's was really cool. It makes you appreciate art and just how creative humans really are."
After the tour was completed, the team was able to spend time in gift shots and St. Peter's Square before departing back for their hotel. "It was amazing experience," freshman forward Kaleb Johnson (Martinsville, Va./The Carlisle School) said. "This is a once in a lifetime type of thing."