St Peter’s Basilica is a treasure trove of amazing things, but an interesting artifact tops many of the lists of must-sees: a 6 six foot wide circular slab of marble, which in the St Peter’s Basilica, built by Constantine in 300, sat behind the main Altar. On Christmas Day, in the year 800, the Pope crowned Charlemagne Holy Roman Emperor, and Christian Europe was born. After the coronation, the Pope consecrated the marble, set it apart as a holy object. No one except the Emperor or the Pope could step on it. The penalty for touching the circle: Death. “Common” people could not profane that sacred disc.
What does set apart, uncommon, mean? I know at least in my life, ever since I can remember, I had one thing clear in my mind: You get one chance at life and I’m going to make sure the world remembers me. I felt like I was “uncommon,” different from the rest. The story of the disc of marble was, in some way, my story. I was made for more and I would never be satisfied with just getting by. It wasn’t a superiority complex. I just felt this urge, this desire to do something great. I was made to leave a mark on the world, and leave it better than how I found it, not just to fill up space or get by. The desire didn’t come as a “I want to be a priest.” (Although, that would come later.) It came as a “Priest or married, I want to LIVE, to really live every second of every day, to squeeze every drop I possibly can out of life.” I refused to live in black and white, when I was made for HD techni-color. So later when I heard Christ calling me to be a priest, I made the click. I found the way God in which planned for me to do great things, not for myself, but for Him.
Coming back to our marble slab… In 1500, the Basilica made by Constantine in 300 was falling apart, so they destroyed it and built a new one in its place (the immense St Peter’s we know today). As they were reconstructing, they were going to put the marble slab behind the Altar again, but the Pope stopped them. He told them he wanted the circle moved… to the front doorstep, where everyone who entered the Basilica would step on it! Why? Because a Christian is a child of God, and as a child of God, he has a dignity infinitely greater than that of any earthly emperor. In other words, a Christian will never be satisfied just getting by. He is called to greatness and given the dignity greater than he could ever imagine!
Photo Credit: Allie Caulfield