Lighting St. Peters in 1854

Windows into History

stpetersSnippets 137.  In 1854 the American Rev. George Foxcroft Haskins went on a tour of Europe and one of the highlights of his trip was an extended stay in Rome.  One of the many things that fascinated him about St Peter’s was the lighting of the external lamps.  In those day this involved a little more effort than flicking a switch!  The following quote is taken from Travels in England, France, Italy and Ireland, published in 1856.

In the evening we had a fine view of St. Peter’s illuminated. We went early, in order to see the men — about three hundred — who were setting the lamps in their places. For the illumination is always on the outside of the building. It made my blood curdle to see them like flies, or grasshoppers rather, running along and leaping over friezes, cornices, and huge mouldings, only secured from…

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