Rome, Sacred Floor for Almost 3,000 Years, and Counting

The Islamic presence in Italy dates to the eighth century, however it wasn’t till 1995 that the formally acknowledged Nice Mosque of Rome opened in Parioli, a neighborhood that’s a brief hop by taxi from the Borghese Gallery. The mosque, the most important in Europe, is a gleaming, low-slung fashionable construction that artfully bridges East and West. A fountain close to the doorway refreshes a plaza whose pavement echoes the dazzling geometry of Michelangelo’s Campidoglio, and the rows of twinned pillars resulting in the travertine-clad sanctuary recall Bernini’s monumental colonnade at St. Peter’s Sq..

The inside is a examine in curving traces, with low-hanging round chandeliers ringing the central dome, intricately tiled partitions and a wealthy Persian carpet swirling throughout the ground. You enter to the sound of fowl tune, you pray in a luminous rotunda, and also you emerge from the compound right into a pine and cypress grove on the fringe of upscale Parioli. Besides when a prepare rumbles by, it’s a lush, hushed precinct.

Possibly too hushed. Rome’s fast-growing Islamic group, lots of them immigrants from Morocco, Bangladesh, Albania or Senegal, resides on the opposite aspect of city in gritty, bustling piazzas close to the Termini rail station. For many Roman Muslims, attending Friday companies within the Nice Mosque would require taking a time off from work.

“The Nice Mosque is a showpiece, an emblem, a spot of delight,” notes Imam Yahya Pallavicini, president of COREIS (the Italian Islamic Non secular Neighborhood). “However the metropolis’s Muslim residents usually tend to pray at smaller unofficial neighborhood mosques, usually situated in personal houses or garages.” On a typical Friday on the Nice Mosque, lots of collect in an area constructed for 1000’s.

The issue that modern Muslims have to find state-sanctioned Roman homes of worship brings to thoughts the plight of Rome’s first Christians. Not like Jews and adherents of Mithras and Isis, Christians had been violently persecuted — and a few of Rome’s earliest church buildings, together with St. Peter’s, are martyriums: websites the place saints had been slain for his or her beliefs. The church buildings of Santa Sabina, Santa Prassede, Santa Pudenziana and Sant’Agnese Fuori le Mura had been additionally sanctified by struggling. With their crystalline mosaics and skinny, pure gentle, these humbly elegant basilicas conjure the time when an odd, fervent, unyielding new cult rose from the ashes of empire.

All ages, each religion, each pilgrim makes Rome sacred anew.

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