At the base of the monumental Lateran Obelisk sits a small fountain, which looks at first sight to have been set up by Paul V (r. 1605-21), as it bears, in addition to the papal tiara and crossed keys, the two heraldic symbols of the Borghese, the pope's family, namely the dragon and the eagle.
However, on closer inspection, one sees, at the sides of the fountain, the head of a lion holding in its mouth some pears, symbols of Pope Sixtus V (r. 1585-90), who had the obelisk erected here. And above the lion's head is a reference to yet another pope, Clement VIII (r. 1592-1605), in the form of two crosses flanking a bar with four crossbars.
Read my post on the Lateran Obelisk, the largest in the world and the oldest of the obelisks in Rome.
Blogging about Rome,
its art, history and culture.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
small-group walking tours
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