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Michelangelo was a man of genius, intelligent, knowledgeable in many things, but one question in his mind made him say No to a pope. Decades before the obelisk in front of St. Peter's in the Vatican was moved to its present site, Michelangelo asked one simple question:
What if it should break?
And he refused to even attempt to move it, leaving it to a later time under a new pope.
In 1586 the energetic Pope Sixtus V wanted to move the 330 ton obelisk at the side of St. Peter's basilica a distance of 275 feet to the front of the basilica.
In our novel we describe the wonderful story of how Fontana the engineer managed to plan and carry out the move of this huge obelisk.
When the Roman Empire fell, not a single obelisk was moved from Egypt for over a thousand years, with one reason being the lack of knowledge of exactly how the Romans had managed the logistical feat of lifting these huge stone monsters, binding them for their safety, moving them, and then lowering them on to their new homes.
Sixtus V wanted the obelisk to represent the triumph of the church over paganism, and when Fontana finally lowered it into its new position before the basilica, a bishop climbed a ladder to baptize it with holy water, and all those watching the baptism received from the pope an indulgence against future sins, good for fifteen years.
And fortunately for Fontana the obelisk did not break.