⇓Yes, this image depicts an on-going mass. Dude, taking pictures during mass? Really? But it is a nice picture, and gives you a sense of scale.But I can understand why some people go, “but why all the stuff? Wasn’t Jesus a humble carpenter? What are you people on?”
Well, it’s like this. Jesus is your buddy, (which is a pretty radical position for a deity) and I’m not denying that. But he’s also GOD. And God is the omnipotent omnipresent creator of the universe and everything in it. He is Existence Itself. The culmination of All that is Good. He is Love, yes, I can go on and on about this all day… even all eternity. But the point is… think about when this was built. What was it’s purpose?
⇓⇑Nice closer image of the chair.“To glorify the Pope?” snarks the peanut gallery. Well, I’m sure the man who commissioned this had an ego problem or two, but it was designed, built and dedicated to the Greater Glory of God. At least some people here had intent, and it was meant not as a palace for a king, but a palace for God HImself. Meaning it should surpass the beauty of all palaces, the personal wealth of all kings, both in the past, in the present, and in the future. And that is why Bernini made it as he did. Even if you question the Pope’s motives… will you question that this artist did not want to give his absolute best to God?
⇓Below here, is the altar of sacrifice. That is why the pillars have a vaguely abominable appearance. This is Cavalry. Cuddly putti aren’t called for in that context. That is why the angels on top of the roof cornice are mourning..There were holy men working for the church, even back then. And they did not question it. It was built for the Faithful, and for God. A church was the only establishment where ordinary people would see this kind of thing.
Furthermore, comparing a Pope to a king is ludicrous. The Papacy is the longest standing democratic institution on Earth. How so? Look at the first picture. It’s a shot from the Papal enclave that ultimately voted in Pope Francis. Also, the Pope only teaches what Christ teaches, and cannot make up new teachings. He can reformulate rubrics and how things are done, but it must always conform to what Christ taught, or his teaching is invalid. So he does what Christ says, and is a servant of his Church, mostly to proclaim unity, arbitrate squabbles and represent her in the global theater.
Returning to the topic of elaborate and gilded churches, I have one last point. There is a tradition and teaching that a church is where heaven touches Earth, a place where God dwells amongst his people. (Hint: This is my body.) SO it reflects not only the glories of Heaven, the presence of God’s Glory on Earth, but also the Temple on the Mount. (Hint: He shall return in Glory.) If that isn’t reason to have glorious surroundings, I don’t know what is.
⇓Another attempt at scale and impact, backing off, trying to soak it all in.