I like to find the different things in the Eternal City, those that are off the beaten path. I had read about the Elefantino and could not find it for the life of me. I knew it was right near the Pantheon, but could not locate it, it was maddening. One night I was walking to meet my husband, there he was in all his glory. The Elefantino carrying an Obelisk on his back. This Obelisk is one of the many Egyptian Obelisks you will see in Rome. The Obelisks were built between 589-570 BC and brought to Rome by Emperor Diocletian during his reign 284-305. The small Obelisk was one that Pope Alexander VII wanted placed upon an animal and commissioned Bernini with the design. The Pope wanted Bernini to use the inspiration based in an inscription on the Obelisk, which read “….a strong mind is needed to support a solid knowledge”. Thus Bernini selected an Elephant for his task.
What I find rather funny about the Obelisks in Rome are what has been placed upon what would be considered a Pagan symbol. You will notice a cross above each. I guess in some sort of effort to convert the Egyptians should they come to claim their ancestors work?
Further, after checking out the mighty Elephant, I decided to walk inside the church. From the exterior, it seemed quite plain. It was built in the 13th century, so I did not know what to expect. With a quick look inside, I was amazed by its beauty and color. I found a sculpture of Jesus that was very exquisite. I only had time for a brief visit and took a quick shot. On the way out I discovered why I was so taken by the statue, it was the work of my favorite artist–Michelangelo.