Ammianus Marcellinus, an experienced and widely traveled man, thought upon seeing the Pantheon in the fourth century that it was vaulted in lofty beauty, rounded over like a city district. For him Rome was the temple of the whole world. This is the meaning of the Pantheon. Stendhal, saying that he had never met a being absolutely devoid of emotion at the sight of it, asked if that is not what we mean by the sublime. Emotions cannot be eliminated, for art is the communication of feeling. The ambition and daring of the Pantheon design are utterly Roman, but in its planetary rotundity the building is also suffused with a quality of seeking for the comprehension of things beyond knowledge, a quality that records Roman sensitivity to human limits. The Pantheon exists because of a particular man, but the stirring and eloquent message preserved in the universality of its forms belongs to everyone. This is why it is the temple of the whole world.
The Pantheon has survived many centuries of change, both temporal and spiritual, but is still devoted to the service of religion. In A.D. 608 it was dedicated by Pope Boniface IV to S. Maria ad Martyres, when many loads of martyrs' bones were brought here from the Catacombs. It is now known as S. Maria Rotunda and is shorn of statuary, marble sheathing, iridescent bronze, and glittering gold which rendered it magnificent in the days of Imperial Rome, but it still compels worldwide admiration by reason of the severe simplicity and unity of the design.
The Pantheon is the only pagan temple of ancient Rome to have been converted into a Christian church.
Quondam © 2017.09.29