* * * * * Free piglix.com Launch Promotions * * * * *
Free Ads! if you are a small business with annual revenues of less than $1M - piglix.com will place your ads free of charge for up to one year! ... read more
$2,000 in free prizes! piglix.com is giving away ten (10) Meccano Erector sets, retail at $200 each, that build a motorized Ferris Wheel (or one of 22 other models) ... see details
St Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican (Italian: Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano), or simply St. Peter's Basilica (Latin: Basilica Sancti Petri), is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome.
Designed principally by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, St. Peter's is the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture and one of the largest churches in the world. While it is neither the mother church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, St. Peter's is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom".
Catholic tradition holds that the Basilica is the burial site of Saint Peter, one of Christ's Apostles and also the first Pope. Saint Peter's tomb is supposedly directly below the high altar of the Basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter's since the Early Christian period, and there has been a church on this site since the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the present basilica, which would replace Old St. Peter's Basilica from the 4th century AD, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.
- Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano (Italian)
Basilica Sancti Petri (Latin)
- In the towers to either side of the facade are two clocks. The clock on the left has been operated electrically since 1931. Its oldest bell dates from 1288.
- One of the most important treasures of the basilica is a mosaic set above the central external door. Called the "Navicella", it is based on a design by Giotto (early 14th century) and represents a ship symbolizing the Christian Church. The mosaic is mostly a 17th-century copy of Giotto's original.
- At each end of the narthex is an equestrian figure, to the north Constantine the Great by Bernini (1670) and to the south Charlemagne by Cornacchini (18th century).
- Of the five portals from the narthex to the interior, three contain notable doors. The central portal has the Renaissance bronze door by Antonio Averulino (called Filarete) (1455), enlarged to fit the new space. The southern door, the Door of the Dead, was designed by 20th-century sculptor Giacomo Manzù and includes a portrait of Pope John XXIII kneeling before the crucified figure of Saint Peter.
- The northernmost door is the "Holy Door" which, by tradition, is walled-up with bricks, and opened only for holy years such as the Jubilee year by the Pope. The present door is bronze and was designed by Vico Consorti in 1950 and cast in Florence by the Ferdinando Marinelli Artistic Foundry. Above it are inscriptions commemorating the opening of the door: PAVLVS V PONT MAX ANNO XIII and GREGORIVS XIII PONT MAX.
- On the first piers of the nave are two Holy Water basins held by pairs of cherubs each 2 metres high, commissioned by Pope Benedict XIII from designer Agostino Cornacchini and sculptor Francesco Moderati, (1720s).
- Along the floor of the nave are markers showing the comparative lengths of other churches, starting from the entrance.
- On the decorative pilasters of the piers of the nave are medallions with relief depicting the first 38 popes.
- In niches between the pilasters of the nave are statues depicting 39 founders of religious orders.
- Set against the north east pier of the dome is a statue of Saint Peter Enthroned, sometimes attributed to late 13th-century sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio, with some scholars dating it to the 5th century. One foot of the statue is largely worn away by pilgrims kissing it for centuries.
- The sunken Confessio leading to the Vatican Grottoes (see above) contains a large kneeling statue by Canova of Pope Pius VI, who was captured and mistreated by Napoleon Bonaparte's army.
- In the Confessio is the Niche of the Pallium ("Niche of Stoles") which contains a bronze urn, donated by Pope Benedict XIV, to contain white stoles embroidered with black crosses and woven with the wool of lambs blessed on St. Agnes' day.
- The High Altar is surmounted by Bernini's baldachin. (See above)
- Set in niches within the four piers supporting the dome are the statues associated with the basilica's primary holy relics: Saint Helena holding the True Cross and the Holy Nails, by Andrea Bolgi; Saint Longinus holding the spear that pierced the side of Jesus, by Bernini (1639); Saint Andrew with the St. Andrew's Cross, by Francois Duquesnoy and Saint Veronica holding her veil with the image of Jesus' face, by Francesco Mochi.
by Andrea Bolgi
by Francois Duquesnoy
by Francesco Mochi
Pilgrim touching the foot of Saint Peter Enthroned
- In the first chapel of the north aisle is Michelangelo's Pietà.
- On the first pier in the right aisle is the monument of Queen Christina of Sweden, who abdicated in 1654 in order to convert to Catholicism.
- The second chapel, dedicated to Saint Sebastian, contains the statues of popes Pius XI and Pius XII. The space below the altar used to be the resting place of Pope Innocent XI but his remains were moved to the Altar of the Transfiguration on 8 April 2011. This was done to make way for the body of Pope John Paul II. His remains were placed beneath the altar on 2 May 2011.
- The large chapel on the right aisle is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament which contains the tabernacle by Bernini (1664) resembling Bramante's Tempietto at San Pietro in Montorio supported by two kneeling angels and with behind it a painting of the Holy Trinity by Pietro da Cortona.
- Near the altar of Our Lady of Succour are the monuments of popes Gregory XIII by Camillo Rusconi (1723) and Gregory XIV.
- At the end of the aisle is an altar containing the relics of Saint Petronilla and with an altarpiece The Burial of St Petronilla by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), 1623.
- The first chapel in the south aisle is the baptistry, commissioned by Pope Innocent XII and designed by Carlo Fontana, (great nephew of Domenico Fontana). The font, which was previously located in the opposite chapel, is the red porphyry sarcophagus of Probus, the 4th-century Prefect of Rome. The lid came from a different sarcophagus, which had once held the remains of the Emperor Hadrian and in removing it from the Vatican Grotto where it had been stored, the workmen broke it into ten pieces. Fontana restored it expertly and surmounted it with a gilt-bronze figure of the "Lamb of God".
- Against the first pier of the aisle is the Monument to the Royal Stuarts, James and his sons, Charles Edward, known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and Henry, Cardinal and Duke of York. The tomb is a Neo-Classical design by Canova unveiled in 1819. Opposite it is the memorial of James Francis Edward Stuart's wife, Maria Clementina Sobieska.
- The second chapel is that of the Presentation of the Virgin and contains the memorials of Pope Benedict XV and Pope John XXIII.
- Against the piers are the tombs of Pope Pius X and Pope Innocent VIII.
- The large chapel off the south aisle is the Choir Chapel which contains the altar of the Immaculate Conception.
- At the entrance to the Sacristy is the tomb of Pope Pius VIII
- The south transept contains the altars of Saint Thomas, Saint Joseph and the Crucifixion of Saint Peter.
- The tomb of Fabio Chigi, Pope Alexander VII, towards the end of the aisle, is the work of Bernini and called by Lees-Milne "one of the greatest tombs of the Baroque Age". It occupies an awkward position, being set in a niche above a doorway into a small vestry, but Bernini has utilized the doorway in a symbolic manner. Pope Alexander kneels upon his tomb, facing outward. The tomb is supported on a large draped shroud in patterned red marble, and is supported by four female figures, of whom only the two at the front are fully visible. They represent Charity and Truth. The foot of Truth rests upon a globe of the world, her toe being pierced symbolically by the thorn of Protestant England. Coming forth, seemingly, from the doorway as if it were the entrance to a tomb, is the skeletal winged figure of Death, its head hidden beneath the shroud, but its right hand carrying an hourglass stretched upward towards the kneeling figure of the pope.
The Holy Door is opened only for great celebrations.
The tomb of Alexander VII.
The bronze statue of Saint Peter holding the keys of heaven, attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio.
- Cost of construction of the basilica: more than 46,800,052 ducats
- Geographic orientation: chancel west, nave east
- Total length: 730 feet (220 m)
- Total width: 500 feet (150 m)
- Interior length including vestibule: 693.8 feet (211.5 m), more than ⅛ mile.
- Length of the transepts in interior: 451 feet (137 m)
- Width of nave: 90.2 feet (27.5 m)
- Width at the tribune: 78.7 feet (24.0 m)
- Internal width at transepts: 451 feet (137 m)
- Internal height of nave: 151.5 feet (46.2 m) high
- Total area: 227,070 square feet (21,095 m2), more than 5 acres (20,000 m2).
- Internal area: 163,182.2 square feet (3.75 acres; 15,160.12 m2)
- Height from pavement to top of cross: 448.1 feet (136.6 m)
- Façade: 167 feet (51 m) high by 375 feet (114 m) wide
- Vestibule: 232.9 feet (71.0 m) wide, 44.2 feet (13.5 m) deep, and 91.8 feet (28.0 m) high
- The internal columns and pilasters: 92 feet (28 m) tall
- The circumference of the central piers: 240 feet (73 m)
- Outer diameter of dome: 137.7 feet (42.0 m)
- The drum of the dome: 630 feet (190 m) in circumference and 65.6 feet (20.0 m) high, rising to 240 feet (73 m) from the ground
- The lantern: 63 feet (19 m) high
- The ball and cross: 8 and 16 feet (2.4 and 4.9 m), respectively
- St. Peter's Square: 1,115 feet (340 m) long, 787.3 feet (240.0 m) wide
- Each arm of the colonnade: 306 feet (93 m) long, and 64 feet (20 m) high
- The colonnades have 284 columns, 88 pilasters, and 140 statues
- Obelisk: 83.6 feet (25.5 m). Total height with base and cross, 132 feet (40 m).
- Weight of obelisk: 360.2 short tons (326,800 kg; 720,400 lb)
1,000 EXTRA POINTS!
Don't forget! that as one of our early users, you are eligible to receive the 1,000 point bonus as soon as you have created five (5) acceptable piglix.