The Vatican Palace - Residence of the Popes
( Originally Published 1907 )
We are astonished at the height of this fountain, which looked so insignificant from the dome. It is forty-five feet high, and its crystal stream shoots as high again into the air. The obelisk has no longer the slenderness of a needle. It measures to the top of the cross one hundred and thirty-two feet, and weighs a million pounds. Pope Sixtus V in 1586 planted it in its present location as the witness of the triumph of Christ over ancient paganism. How it would astonish the cruel Emperor Caligula, who transported it from Africa, to see it now surmounted by the despised cross and used not for his glory but the glory of the poor souls whom he crushed in torture and blood !
Between the fountain and the obelisk rises that part of the Vatican in which the Pope and many of the officials of the Church reside. The apartments of the Pope are in the story next to the top, and take up the whole floor. The Pope has his desk not far from the sixth window in the second floor, counting from the left.
On the top story are the apartments of Cardinal Merry del Val, the Secretary of State.
The way into the Vatican is by certain bronze doors beneath the colonnade, almost directly behind this nearer fountain. We are to take our next position facing the entrance.
Turn now to Map 2, where the Palace is shown by itself on a larger scale. Our eleventh standpoint is marked by red-encircled figures just outside the bronze doors, i. e., near the lower right hand corner of the map, and the diverging lines promise that we shall see some distance down the corridor.