Letter from Rome: When Rome falls …

More signs that there's no stopping the Catholic Church's long, slow implosion
Letter from Rome: When Rome falls …

A street vendor sells hats to tourists in front of the Colosseum in Rome in July 2019. (Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP)

"While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall; And when Rome falls — the World."

These lines are from Canto the Fourth in Lord Byron's long narrative poem, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. The great English poet wrote them some time around 1817 after visiting the Eternal City.

Actually, they are a translation of words written in Latin by another famous Englishman from the eighth century — St. Bede the Venerable.

This Roman amphitheater is actually spelled "Colosseum" and scholars believe Bede was not describing it but a large bronze statue (Colossus) of Nero instead.

You can ignore these small discrepancies, but you cannot ignore the principle. It remains. Namely, there are some institutions that are so sturdy, so ancient and so symbolic that, should they fall, the ramifications would be devastating and far-reaching.

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