Day Thirty Saint Peter's Basilica Rome
My final day - Wow what a trip. Today I visited Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.
The Centre of the Roman Catholic faith, St. Peter's draws pilgrims from all over the world. Few are disappointed when they enter the sumptuously decorated basilica beneath Michelangelo's vast dome. A shrine was erected on the site of St. Peter's tomb in the 2and century and the first great basilica, ordered by the Emperor Costantine, was completed around AD 349.
By the 15th century it was falling down, so in 1506 Pope Julius II laid the first stone of a new church. It took more than a century to build and all the great architects of the Roman Renaissance and Baroque had a hand in its design.
Here you can see Saint Peter's in the bottom right through the pillars that surround the square.
The following images are just a few of the many I took as I spent several hours exploring with my camera the beauty of this magnificent structure.
Picture below: The Basilica centers around the Papal Altar where only the Pope celebrates Mass. It was consecrated by Clement VIII, June 5, 1594, on top of several other older altars.
Rising above the altar is the baldacchino (95ft. canopy), Bernini's masterpiece and first work in St. Peter's. The ancient tomb of St. Peter lies directly below the altar.
Here three of the six candles and a cross that are on Papal Alter table. In behind you can see St. Helen. She was the mother of Constantine. She converted to Christianity and performed many acts of charity, including building churches in Rome and in the Holy Land.
Legend has it that on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, St. Helen discovered the True Cross.
Chapel of the Pieta
This is probably the world's most famous sculpture of a religious subject. Michelangelo carved it when he was 24 years old, and it is the only one he ever signed. The beauty of its lines and expression leaves a lasting impression on everyone.
This ancient statue of St. Peter, portrayed as he gives a blessing and preaches, while holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven is famous throughout the world. Some scholars have attributed it to Arnolfo di Cambio (1245-1302), but others believe that it is a V century casting.
Pilgrims who come to the Basilica traditionally touch and kiss its foot, so that it is literally worn thin. In the Middle Ages pilgrims who reached Rome, touched and kissed the foot of the statue and prayed to St. Peter asking that he be merciful and open the gates of heaven for them if they died during the pilgrimage.
The Ceilings of the basilica are a feast for the eyes.
Under the Altar of St. Jerome is the resting site for the body of Bl. John XXIII. He is the 48th pope who rest in the basilica.
Monument to Pius VIII
The Pope is show kneeling, accompanied by a statue of Christ enthroned, with statues of Sts. Peter and Paul. The allegories are Prudence and Justice.
He was imprisoned in 1808 during the French domination of Italy for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to Napoleon.
He approved the decrees of the Council of Baltimore (October 1829), the first formal meeting of US bishops.
Under the monument is a door leading to the Sacristy and Treasury Museum. In this passage is a list of all the popes buried in St. Peter's.
Here is the list of all the popes buried in Saint Peter's.
Statues made by man must be cleaned by man.
St. Veronica, according to pious tradition, was the woman who wiped the face of Jesus during the Way of the Cross.
The Relics of the Passion, kept in the loggia above, include a scrap of material with the imprint of a bearded man brought from Jerusalem in the crusades, believed to be Veronica's veil. Under this pier (statue), Pope Julius II laid the first stone of the new basilica on April 18, 1506.
The Monument of Pius VII (1800-1823) occupies part of the left wall of the Clementine Chapel. He was the Pope imprisoned by Napoleon and exiled to Fontainebleau. After his liberation, he did all he could for the emperor exiled at Sant' Elena and helped his elderly mother. The weary Pontiff is seated majestically on his throne and is blessing all, friends and enemies. The monument is the work of the Danish sculptor, Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844), Roman by adoption. Beside the Pontiff are two allegorical figures: the Genius of time and History, intent on recording the Pope's achievements with the hourglass and a book; on the pedestal are another two statues which represent Fortitude, with the lion skin, and Wisdom, with the book and the owl.
A close-up of the weary Pontiff. He is seated majestically on his throne and is blessing all, friends and enemies.
Just to the right of the popes statue is a woman that represents wisdom, with the book in hand and an owl at her feet.
Here is the ceiling and dome above the Monument of Pius VII (1800-1823).
There were several confessionals throughout the basilica.
Another spectacular dome that is located above the Chapel of the Baptistery, one of the basilica's most beautiful chapels and built after a design by Carlo Fontana (1634-1714). In the center is the baptismal font, still used on Sundays to administer the sacrament of baptism.
The dome is decorated with mosaics, from originals by Francesco Trevisani da Capodistria. In the spandrels are portrayed the races of the four continents which became Christian: Europe, Asia, Africa, America. In the lunettes are various baptismal scenes: Jesus baptizes Peter, St. Peter baptizes the Centurion Cornelius, St. Philip baptizes the Eunuch of Queen Candace, St. Silvester baptizes Constantine, and several symbols of baptism: Moses causes the water to spring from the rock, Noah prays before the rainbow of the Covenant.
Bottom Right - Africa
Bottom Left - America
Top Left - Asia
Top Right - Europe
Lit up In the distance is the Main Tribune (or apse) and holds the Cathedra Petri (St Peter's Throne). In the middle under the dome is the Papal Altar that is covered by a canopy with four pillars that support it. Below it is the tomb is Peter.
Keywords: Arnolfo di Cambio, Baldacchino, Bertel Thorvaldsen, Carlo Fontana, Chapel of the Pieta, Clementine Chapel, Italy, Michelangelo, Monument to Pius VIII, Papal Altar, Pillars, Pius VII, Pope, Pope Bl. John XXIII, Pope Julius II, Rome, Saint Peter's, Saint Peter's Tomb, St. Helen, St. Jerome, St. Peter, St. Peter's, Vatican City, basilica, canopy, ceiling, church, cleaning statue, list of popes, monument, sculpture, statue
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