A Touch of Eternity
If cemeteries have inpired poets there must be a reason. Even the most cynical of men feels overwelmed when wondering in a graveyard. A few days ago I paid a visit to my mother’s tomb in the monumental cemetery of Rome, Verano, just behind the ancient church of St Lawrence outside the walls, and I often question myself as an Agnostic about why I visit my dead relatives’, as I do not believe in the afterlife. There is no rational answer to that.
You can centainly feel the awareness of how ephemeral our passage in this life is, and how clumsy the attempt to fight death by preserving the memory can be. The grandeur of architecture offers us the illusion of immortality at least to the ones who remain.
It’s astonishing how this effort has been constant through the ages and what beauty it has created…beauty may be the only touch of immortality, for those who create it and for those who are touched by it. So many incredible examples over the centuries, from the pyramids in Egypt to the underground Etruscan necropolis, the Catacombs, the Roman mausoleums and the Indian Taj Mahal.
Without leaving Rome, the Cimitero Monumentale del Verano is a veritable museum showing different forms of art and styles: statues, mosaics, sarcophagi, temples, chapels and simple tombstones.
Here are a few examples of solemn funerary beauty:
From perfect Neoclassical beauty….
To Fascist Rationalist architecture….
To celebrative sculpture of a hero of the Italian Risorgimento (the Italian Independence process that took place in the 19th century) and copywriter of our national anthem: Goffredo Mameli, who died at age of 22 during the defence of the Roman Republic against the French army.
A visit to the graveyard is an experience that I recommend. Even though our ego is put into perspective our fears and anxieties fade away.