In Frederick Buechner’s novel Godric, the twelfth century holy man makes a pilgrimage to Rome seven centuries after its fall and says…

I carried Aedwen on my shoulders up a hill where goats leapt at their lecheries and dropped their berries through the fallen halls where Caesar and his lords had hatched the laws that ruled the world. Poor folk grew cabbage there.

Two provocative sentences from Mr. Buechner’s pen.

The glory of Rome fallen to a haunt of goats and a cabbage patch for the poor.

Yes, the centuries roll on relentlessly and empires do fall.

Time Consumeth All
Ezra Pound

O thou new comer who seek’st Rome in Rome
And find’st in Rome no thing thou canst call Roman
Arches worn old and palaces made common,
Rome’s name alone within these walls keeps home.

Behold how pride and ruin can befall
One who hath set the whole world ‘neath her laws,
All-conquering, now conquered, because
She is Time’s prey and Time consumeth all.

Rome that art Rome’s one sole last monument,
Rome that alone hast conquered Rome the town,
Tiber alone, transient and seaward bent,

Remains of Rome. O world, thou unconstant mime!
That which stands firm in thee Time batters down,
And that which fleeteth doth outrun swift time.


Empires all
They rise in false pride
And fall in due time

Save one

The Empire that came by the Cross
Born at a state sponsored execution

Could Rome believe their imperial eagle would fall
And be outlived by the symbol of the cross?

Could they imagine their horrid emblem of terror and death
Would become a beautiful symbol of love and life?

But I’ve seen it with my own eyes
Roman arches commemorating war victories
Now crowned with Christian crosses
Commemorating the One who won his war
By laying down his life
Forgiving his enemies
And saving the world

And his empire shall know no end
But all others will fall

All that lay claim to the title “greatest nation”
Are but a variation on a theme:
And the apostles and prophets have spoken—
Babylon is fallen, is fallen

Silver and gold Babylon
Scarlet and purple Babylon
Red, white and blue Babylon

Learn the lesson:
God sponsors one empire
And one empire only

Long live the empire of Christ!

The kingdoms of the world
Have become the kingdoms
Of our Lord and of his Christ
And he shall reign forever and ever



(The painting is Ruins and Classic Buildings by Canaletto (1697-1768)