In St Peter's basilica, pilgrims come to pay their respects to the bronze statue of St Peter, the first Pope and rock of the early church, over whose tomb the basilica was built.
Pilgrims would bend down to kiss the foot of the statue and over the years the metal wore away so that the toes blend in with the rest of the foot. Nowadays most visitors touch the toe instead of kiss it, but the feet are still worn down with the human contact.
When we visited there was a steady stream of visitors passing by the statue, some hurrying on to see the next thing, some pausing to say a prayer and others posing to have their photo taken. It's a way to find some personal meaning in a place where one might otherwise be overwhelmed by the scale and magnificence of it all.
This article has moved to my new travel blog - you can read it at Heatheronhertravels.com
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