I’ve recently returned from a trip to Italy, where I scouted out glimpses of God in the places I visited there to blog about with you. All of life is a journey that should take us closer to God, but when we travel, we’re often more aware of the fact that we’re on spiritual pilgrimages every day of our lives. Travel wakes us up to the fact that God is constantly bringing adventures into our lives that can teach us valuable lessons. Hope these posts about my recent trip inspire you to plan one of your own to a place you sense God leading you to visit!
Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome is a circular castle with a storied history that now serves as a national Italian museum. A secret passageway connects Castel Sant’Angelo to the Vatican, since a succession of popes used the castle as a fortress during battles. Prior to that, the building (which dates from 135 AD) was a mausoleum for the emperor Hadrian.
The castle is dedicated to angels thanks to Pope Gregory the Great’s vision of the archangel Michael during a prayer procession in 590 AD, in which Gregory and others were praying for an end to a deadly plague in Rome and Michael reportedly appeared in the sky plunging a sword into a sheath to signify the end of the plague. Afterward, the disease stopped spreading in the area, and people recovered. Castel Sant’Angelo features many dramatic statues of angels, including one of Michael on top of the building.
This inspiring story of the power of prayer and the victory of healing stands in stark contrast to the darker aspects of the building’s history. While God had mercy on suffering people and sent one of His top messengers — Michael — to deliver the healing they’d prayed for, people didn’t have mercy on each other during many of their encounters in the castle. Our tour guide pointed out some of the building’s grisly features, such as prison cells where people were left to die, trap doors that people pushed others through to kill them, and holes in walls where people poured boiling oil down on people trying to climb up.
Thank God that He is always willing to answer our prayers with mercy — even when we don’t deserve that mercy. Thank God that He sends His messengers the angels into our lives to help us heal not just from diseases that afflict our bodies, but also from hatred that afflicts our minds and souls.