Angel With the Cross
The Angel With the Cross is one of the statues on the Ponte Sant'Angelo Bridge (formerly called the Aelian Bridge or pons Aelius, meaning "Hadrian's Bridge" in Rome, Italy. The bridge upon which this statue stands has witnessed centuries of change - almost two millennia worth, in fact. It is why its significant. Yes, our cultural roots are much older than this bridge going back to pre-history. Our Western history, our cultural identity, however, is almost entirely European. Yes, there was always exchange of goods and knowledge with other cultures. Our cultural identity is changing as it always has, but it had several important phases in the last two millennia which still impact the present-day. None are more significant than the Roman Imperial period followed by its successor Roman Christian period, known by its other names, the Medieval period or Dark Ages beginning in the fourth century and ending in the fourteenth century - a full millennium.
"J. B. S. Haldane," Eric Hoffer said, "counts fanaticism among the only four really important inventions made between 3000 B.C and 1400 A.D.… it is strange to think that in receiving this malady of the soul the world also received a miraculous instrument for raising societies and nations from the dead-an instrument of resurrection." Haldane wrote: "Between 3000 BC and AD 1400 there were probably only four really important inventions, namely the general use of iron, paved roads, voting, and religious intolerance."
The Hellenistic period seeded imperialism with the death of Alexander the Great. His generals carved up his empire between themselves. Ptolemy snapped up Egypt. The Roman Empire was born with the battle of Actium, when Octavian defeated Anthony and Cleopatra (the last Egyptian queen of the Ptolemaic dynasty). The Roman Imperial period seeded Western civilization (as we know it). The Roman Christian period seeded Western morality and history (as we know it). It inherited its virtues from the imperial Romans. And here we are. Still repeating the same mistakes as in the past.
The Roman Christian Church (the Vatican) gave us our Metamorphosis of Odium - you know, imperial hatred, apocalyse, resurrection, greed and genocide. Modern historians call it colonialism. The Vatican (not Christianity) in Rome orchestrated major failures as it competed with other Christian churches for universal supremacy - imperial style - and history was one of their weapons with which to shackle the minds of millions. It will never admit it, but its undeniable. The Church's orchestrated Dark Ages seeded our collective Western histories with its infallible versions of national origin stories of cultural identity among other infallible "truths." Only one place in this medieval tragedy stood up to Rome - Ungaria (partly, today's Magyar Hungary, but then also encompassing Eastern Austria, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Eastern Ukraine, Northern Bulgaria, and Northern Serbia). This was a place of Carpathian Liberty which opposed the Vatican and its Holy Roman Empire. Today, very slowly, however, historians are finally beginning to accept that most of the Vatican's history of Western civilisation, if not all of not all of it, is simply propaganda myth invented by the Church. The Church is the author of most history as you know it. Without knowing this, you will remain historically ignorant in realistic terms! Without understanding this historic reality, one simply cannot write truthful history of anything. This is the premise of my first two books: Chrysalis I: Metamorphosis of Odium; and Chrysalis II: Carpathian Liberty. These two books are an introduction to Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the most powerful woman that ever lived.
Not convinced? Take English cultural identity, for example, that of the Anglo-Saxons. Traditional historiology claims Celto-Scandinavian-Saxon-Norman origins. Yes, true. But it's complicated. There was much, much more to Britain's demographic history than four groups of people. Just as today, there were many, many, more. Historiological tradition also claims a great military Saxon (German) invasion of Britain following the collapse of the Roman Empire on the European continent and in what Romans used to call Britainia. Typical imperialist-colonial philosophy. It was supposedly a period of barbaric pagan heathenism in Britain (and other great swathes of continental Europe) until Pope Gregory I sent missionaries to Britain to Christianise its godless population in the sixth century. The missionary part is true, the rest, however, is completely false. It's a myth. There was no Saxon invasion. No archaeologist is able to find evidence of it - still. Migration and settlement, yes. Moreover, Christianity was alive and well throughout Europe, including Britain. When Rome's missionaries arrived to Christianise Anglo-Saxon "barbarians" they found a sophisticated culture, complete with monasteries and churches. It's just that these were not Catholic places, and so, Roman missionaries had to invent their conquest narrative.
The man responsible for the "Anglo-Saxon" myth is the "Father of English History," the seventh-eighth century Benedictine monk by the name of Bede, now Saint Bede the Venerable. His 731 CE book, Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People) is the genesis of this "history." Every historian after him, until the late twentieth century, simply included, and elaborated on his invention. It was easy. A new race of people was simply invented in the image of the Roman Catholic Church, then the new masters of Britain. As we all know, Christian churches in Britain experienced some problems later on, you know, the Church of England, the Reformation, and all that stuff. The myth, meanwhile, remained intact. The pope claimed infallibility and science, including modern archaeology was still more than a millennium away from becoming science. In fact, both really became proper scientific dsciplines in the second half of the twentieth century. Then, Dominic Powlesland came along. Between 1978 to the present-day, he and his team conducted (and continue to conduct) the largest geophysical field archaeology and landscape survey (see Landscape Research Centre) in the world proving Bede's history - Vatican history - as myth. So much for divine infallibility - and history books.
If Britain's extremely well documented history which includes early "Anglo-Saxon" origins are a myth, what of other parts of Europe? You know, places conquered time and time again and torn apart by centuries of conflict. Is it possible that even there, historians got post-Roman Imperial infallible medieval history all wrong? Yes. Hungary, for example, has it's "Magyar Conquest" myth. Medieval historians then, as now, after all, wrote oversimplified histories to explain a very complex world, regardless of where and when. They still do. It's the very essence of propaganda. And Bede? He was canonised by Pope Leo XIII in 1899 as a Saint and Doctor (teacher) of the Church. The Vatican only conceded its long-held dogma to the scientific fact of the heliocentric solar system seventy years before - in 1822! The Church was trying to keep up with the modern times. The Vatican, of course, was doing what it did best - failing with their infallible dogma, and miserably so. Ancient astronomers knew this scientific fact centuries before the advent of Christianity! And what of Elizabeth Bathory and Ungaria? Well, this history is still the stuff of myth with very tragic consequences!
But, back to the statue. During the time of Pope Gregory I (the man who orchestrated the Roman Catholic mission to Britain) in the sixth century, the bridge where the statue stands was known as the pons Sancti Petri meaning "Bridge of Saint Peter." This was not when the bridge was built. It was already five centuries old. Imperial Romans built it in 134 CE to span the Tiber River. Today it connects the Pizza di Ponte Sant'Angelo and the Castel Sant'Angelo. Legend (what else?) has it that in the sixth century, an angel appeared atop the castle announcing the end of the Plague of Justinian. Pope Clement VII implemented a bridge toll to pay for several statues to be erected here. Dante, in his Divine Comedy writes of hundreds of pilgrims who drowned in river below. They were forced over the edge by the large crowd of pilgrims en-route to Saint Peter's during the 1450 jubilee. This is not legend, but historical fact. Pope Clement VII implemented a bridge toll in 1535 to erect several statues on the bridge. Bodies of executed heretics and criminals were put on public display on the bridge from the sixteenth-century onwards. Pope Clement IX replaced Pope Clement VII's aging stucco statues in 1669 with ten marbel angels holding instruments of the passion. This statue is one of those angels. Several sculptors were commissioned. One of them was Ercole Ferrata who sculpted this marble angel, titled "Angel with the Cross" with the inscription of "Cuius principatus super humerum eius" meaning "that upon his shoulder."
One should know then, that walking along this particular bridge, one is retracing two thousand years of history - much of it, not exactly true. As much is only becoming apparent today. It's a very slow process. It involves breaking down deeply rooted - two millennia - of cultural beliefs and historical ignorance.
Video: Angel With the Cross
Historical Place: Angel With the Cross, Ponte Sant'Angelo Bridge, Rome, Italy
Location: 41°54'7.24"N, 12°27'59.21"E.