• kvannobrien

The Pantheon

The "dark night of the soul" moment in my WIP takes place at the Pantheon.

Just a few years ago, before the pandemic halted global travel, I was lucky enough to explore Italy's ancient churches and art and CHEESE. I traveled with one of my oldest friends, for our 40th birthdays.

As I stood before the Pantheon, a street performer bowed Stairway to Heaven on the violin and I thought, this is the place.

Like The Duomo in Florence, the Pantheon was built to gather people together. All people. Taken from the Greek Pantheion, the name means "Temple of every god." All were welcomed through the granite columns of the portico, and still are, as the church has been in continuous use since it was rebuilt after a fire in 126 AD.

The crowning feather of the Pantheon is the coffered concrete dome, which boasts a central oculus that is said to have been engineered in such a way as to keep the rain from falling to the church floor. Worshipers could see out, to praise the gods of thier choosing, but the weather could not come in.

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino is entombed here. Raphael was an Italian painter and architect during the Renaissance. Many of his paintings hang in the Vatican galleries, where entire rooms are adorned - floor to gold-plated ceiling - with his work.

As we read the inscriptions of Raphael's tomb, a choir of voices rose up around us. Thus, my world went from a haunting version of Stairway to Heaven on the violin to what sounded like actual heaven. The choir was just a group of tourists, in puffy jackets and backpacks, who I assume came specifically to sing in this building, which was designed with perfect acoustics.

I quickly took a video, to capture this amazing experience. It's currently lost in the vastness of the cloud, but if I ever find it again, I'll post it here.

Trust me when I say it was incredible. And both of these musical encounters make an appearance in the book.