The Powerful Meaning of Rome’s Beautiful “Bridge of Angels” Most People Miss

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Wampile, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Rome is overflowing with beautiful art. On every corner, it seems, there’s some gorgeous church, or ancient fountain, or stunning masterpiece from a famous artist. For visitors who aren’t used to it, it can be a bit overwhelming!

The Ponte Sant’Angelo, or Bridge of Angels, is one of these incredible sights. But unless you look closely, you’ll miss its deeper meaning.

The Ponte Sant’Angelo goes all the way back to the first century. During the medieval period, it was sometimes called the “Bridge of St. Peter” since it was how most pilgrims crossed the Tiber River to get to St. Peter’s Basilica. But the bridge took on a new meaning in the 17th century when Pope Clement IX commissioned new statues.

Artistic genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini came up with the plan. There’d be 10 statues of angels, but each would be holding something special: the arma Christi, or instruments of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

It’s really easy to miss if you’re not looking carefully; the average person probably just sees beautiful angels. But sure enough, all the angels are holding objects related to the suffering and death of Christ.

It’s a really beautiful way to remember and honor the sacrifice of our Lord, especially for pilgrims making their way to one of the most important churches of Christendom!

Below are pictures of all the statues and what each angel is holding.

1) Angel with the Column (where Christ was flogged)

Livioandronico2013, Wikipedia,
Livioandronico2013, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0

2) Angel with the Whips

Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikipedia,
Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5

3) Angel with the Crown of Thorns

Lalupa, Wikipedia,
Lalupa, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

4) Angel with Veronica’s Veil

Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, Wikipedia,
Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

5) Angel with His Garment and Dice (Christ’s garment was gambled away)

Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikipedia,
Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5

6) Angel with the Nails

Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, Wikipedia,
Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

7) Angel with the Cross

Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, Wikipedia,
Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

8) Angel with the Superscription (the sign attached to the top of the Cross that said “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”)

Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikipedia,
Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5

9) Angel with the Sponge

Public Domain, Wikipedia
Public Domain, Wikipedia

10) Angel with the Lance

Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, Wikipedia,
Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

[See also: The Lost 1200-Year-Old Wonder: A Tour of the Old St. Peter’s Basilica]

[See also: American Exorcist-In-Training Shares Stories of Battling Demons in Rome]

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