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The Temple of Vesta

The little round temple was once supposed to have been the temple of Vesta, but it is now quite certain that this was a mistake. It is 50 feet in diameter and each of its 20 Corinthian columns which constitute the circular colonnade around it, is 32 feet high.

Wherever the Temple of Vesta may have stood, it is evident that from its eternal fires was borrowed the custom, still extant in Catholic churches, of keeping up a perpetual flame by means of tapers.

Six Vestal Virgins sworn to perpetual virginity, used to watch the sacred flame upon the altar in the Temple of Vesta, and it is an impressive sight to see the same sacred and eternal flame still burning around the High Altar in St. Peter's. From what may still be seen in Europe in general, and at Rome in particular, it is evident that all or nearly all of the emblems, forms and ceremonies of the early Catholic Church were borrowed from ancient mythology.