St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

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The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance
Renaissance architecture
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance...

 church located within the Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world. While it is neither the official mother church of the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 nor the cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

 of the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 as Bishop of Rome, Saint Peter's is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

".

In Roman Catholic tradition, the basilica
Basilica
The Latin word basilica , was originally used to describe a Roman public building, usually located in the forum of a Roman town. Public basilicas began to appear in Hellenistic cities in the 2nd century BC.The term was also applied to buildings used for religious purposes...

 is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to tradition, the first Bishop of Rome and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. Tradition and some historical evidence hold that Saint Peter's tomb
Saint Peter's tomb
Saint Peter's tomb is a site under St. Peter's Basilica that includes several graves and a structure said by Vatican authorities to have been built to memorialize the location of St. Peter's grave. St. Peter's tomb is near the west end of a complex of mausoleums that date between about AD 130 and...

 is directly below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter's since the Early Christian period. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction of the present basilica, over the old Constantinian
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 basilica, began on 18 April 1506 and was completed on 18 November 1626.

St. Peter's is famous as a place of pilgrimage
Pilgrimage
A pilgrimage is a journey or search of great moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith...

, for its liturgical
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 functions and for its historical associations. It is associated with the papacy, with the Counter-reformation
Counter-Reformation
The Counter-Reformation was the period of Catholic revival beginning with the Council of Trent and ending at the close of the Thirty Years' War, 1648 as a response to the Protestant Reformation.The Counter-Reformation was a comprehensive effort, composed of four major elements:#Ecclesiastical or...

 and with numerous artists, most significantly Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

. As a work of architecture, it is regarded as the greatest building of its age. Contrary to popular misconception, Saint Peter's is not a cathedral
Cathedral
A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

, as it is not the seat of a bishop. It is properly termed a papal basilica. The Basilica of St. John Lateran
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

 is the cathedral church of Rome.

Overview



The Basilica of St. Peter is a huge church in the Renaissance style located in Rome west of the River Tiber and near the Janiculum Hill and Hadrian's Mausoleum. Its central dome
Dome
A dome is a structural element of architecture that resembles the hollow upper half of a sphere. Dome structures made of various materials have a long architectural lineage extending into prehistory....

 dominates the skyline of Rome. The basilica is approached via St. Peter's Square, a forecourt in two sections, both surrounded by tall colonnades. The first space is oval and the second trapezoid. The facade of the basilica, with a giant order
Giant order
In Classical architecture, a giant order is an order whose columns or pilasters span two stories...

 of columns, stretches across the end of the square and is approached by steps on which stand two 5.55 metres (18.2 ft) statues of the 1st century apostles to Rome, Saints Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 and Paul.

The basilica is cruciform
Cruciform
Cruciform means having the shape of a cross or Christian cross.- Cruciform architectural plan :This is a common description of Christian churches. In Early Christian, Byzantine and other Eastern Orthodox forms of church architecture this is more likely to mean a tetraconch plan, a Greek cross,...

 in shape, with an elongated nave in the Latin cross form but the early designs were for a centrally planned structure and this is still in evidence in the architecture. The central space is dominated both externally and internally by one of the largest domes in the world. The entrance is through a narthex
Narthex
The narthex of a church is the entrance or lobby area, located at the end of the nave, at the far end from the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper...

, or entrance hall, which stretches across the building. One of the decorated bronze doors leading from the narthex is the Holy Door
Holy door
Each of the four papal basilicas in Rome has a Holy door . The doors are normally sealed shut from the inside so that they cannot be opened...

, only opened in Holy Years.

The interior is of vast dimensions by comparison with other churches. One author wrote: "Only gradually does it dawn upon us – as we watch people draw near to this or that monument, strangely they appear to shrink; they are, of course, dwarfed by the scale of everything in the building. This in its turn overwhelms us."
The nave which leads to the central dome is in three bays, with piers supporting a barrel-vault, the highest of any church. The nave is framed by wide aisles which have a number of chapels off them. There are also chapels surrounding the dome. Moving around the basilica in a clockwise direction they are: The Baptistery
Baptistery
In Christian architecture the baptistry or baptistery is the separate centrally-planned structure surrounding the baptismal font. The baptistry may be incorporated within the body of a church or cathedral and be provided with an altar as a chapel...

, the Chapel of the Presentation of the Virgin, the larger Choir Chapel, the Clementine
Pope Clement I
Starting in the 3rd and 4th century, tradition has identified him as the Clement that Paul mentioned in Philippians as a fellow laborer in Christ.While in the mid-19th century it was customary to identify him as a freedman of Titus Flavius Clemens, who was consul with his cousin, the Emperor...

 Chapel with the altar of St Gregory, the Sacristy
Sacristy
A sacristy is a room for keeping vestments and other church furnishings, sacred vessels, and parish records.The sacristy is usually located inside the church, but in some cases it is an annex or separate building...

 Entrance, the left transept
Transept
For the periodical go to The Transept.A transept is a transverse section, of any building, which lies across the main body of the building. In Christian churches, a transept is an area set crosswise to the nave in a cruciform building in Romanesque and Gothic Christian church architecture...

 with altars to the Crucifixion of St Peter, St Joseph and St Thomas
Thomas the Apostle
Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in . He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman...

, the altar of the Sacred Heart
Sacred Heart
The Sacred Heart is one of the most famous religious devotions to Jesus' physical heart as the representation of His divine love for Humanity....

, the Chapel of the Madonna of Colonna, the altar of St Peter and the Paralytic, the apse with St Peter's Cathedra
Cathedra
A cathedra or bishop's throne is the chair or throne of a bishop. It is a symbol of the bishop's teaching authority in the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and has in some sense remained such in the Anglican Communion and in Lutheran churches...

, the altar of St Peter raising Tabitha, the altar of the Archangel Michael, the altar of the Navicella
Navicella
Navicella is a genus of fungi in the family Massariaceae. "Navicella" is Italian for "small ship", and also found in English in reference to a mosaic by Giotto in St Peter's, Rome, now so often restored as to be effectively lost. In the 19th century the genus of molluscs now called Septaria were...

, the right transept with altars of St Erasmus, Saints Processo and Martiniano, and St Wenceslas
Wenceslaus I, Duke of Bohemia
Wenceslaus I , or Wenceslas I, was the duke of Bohemia from 921 until his assassination in 935, purportedly in a plot by his own brother, Boleslav the Cruel....

, the altar of St Basil, the Gregorian Chapel with the altar of the Madonna of Succour, the larger Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, the Chapel of St Sebastian and the Chapel of the Pieta.

At the heart of the basilica, beneath the high altar, is the Confessio or Chapel of the Confession, in reference to the confession of faith by St Peter, which lead to his martyrdom. Two curving marble staircases lead to this underground chapel at the level of the Constantinian church. The Confessio gives access to the tomb of St Peter.

The entire interior of St Peter's is lavishly decorated with marble, reliefs, architectural sculpture and gilding. The basilica contains a large number of tombs of popes and other notable people, many of which are considered outstanding artworks. There are also a number of sculptures in niches and chapels, including Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

's Pieta
Pietà (Michelangelo)
The Pietà is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. It is the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. The statue was commissioned for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres, who was a representative in...

. The central feature is a baldachin
Baldachin
A baldachin, or baldaquin , is a canopy of state over an altar or throne. It had its beginnings as a cloth canopy, but in other cases it is a sturdy, permanent architectural feature, particularly over high altars in cathedrals, where such a structure is more correctly called a ciborium when it is...

, or canopy over the Papal Altar, designed by Gianlorenzo Bernini. The sanctuary
Sanctuary
A sanctuary is any place of safety. They may be categorized into human and non-human .- Religious sanctuary :A religious sanctuary can be a sacred place , or a consecrated area of a church or temple around its tabernacle or altar.- Sanctuary as a sacred place :#Sanctuary as a sacred place:#:In...

 culminates in a sculptural ensemble, also by Bernini, and containing the symbolic Chair of St Peter.

One observer wrote: "St Peter's Basilica is the reason why Rome is still the center of the civilized world. For religious, historical, and architectural reasons it by itself justifies a journey to Rome, and its interior offers a palimpsest of artistic styles at their best..."

The American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

 described St Peter's as "an ornament of the earth ....the sublime of the beautiful."

Status



The Basilica of St. Peter is one of four Papal Basilicas or Major Basilica
Major basilica
Major basilica is the title given to the four highest-ranking Catholic churches: St. Peter's Basilica, St. John Lateran, Saint Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major . All of them are located in Rome, Italy. St...

s of Rome the others being the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

, Santa Maria Maggiore and St. Paul outside the Walls. It is the most prominent building in the Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

. Its dome is a dominant feature of the skyline of Rome. Probably the largest church in Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

, it covers an area of 2.3 hectares (5.7 acres). One of the holiest sites of Christianity in the Catholic Tradition, it is traditionally the burial site of its titular Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to Catholic Tradition, also the first Bishop of Antioch and later first Bishop of Rome, the first Pope. Although the New Testament does not mention Peter's martyrdom in Rome, Catholic tradition, based on the writings of the Fathers of the Church, holds that his tomb is below the baldachin
Baldachin
A baldachin, or baldaquin , is a canopy of state over an altar or throne. It had its beginnings as a cloth canopy, but in other cases it is a sturdy, permanent architectural feature, particularly over high altars in cathedrals, where such a structure is more correctly called a ciborium when it is...

 and altar; for this reason, many Popes have, from the early years of the Church, been buried there. Construction of the current basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on 18 April 1506. At length on 18 November 1626, Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII , born Maffeo Barberini, was pope from 1623 to 1644. He was the last pope to expand the papal territory by force of arms, and was a prominent patron of the arts and reformer of Church missions...

 solemnly dedicated the church.

St. Peter's Basilica is neither the Pope's official seat nor first in rank among the Major Basilicas of Rome. This honour is held by the Pope's cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Lateran
Basilica of St. John Lateran
The Papal Archbasilica of St. John Lateran , commonly known as St. John Lateran's Archbasilica and St. John Lateran's Basilica, is the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome and the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope...

. However, it is most certainly the Pope's principal church, as most Papal ceremonies take place at St. Peter's due to its size, proximity to the Papal residence, and location within the Vatican City walls. The "Chair of Saint Peter
Chair of Saint Peter
The Chair of Saint Peter is a relic conserved in St. Peter's Basilica, enclosed in a gilt bronze casing that was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and executed 1647-53....

" or cathedra
Cathedra
A cathedra or bishop's throne is the chair or throne of a bishop. It is a symbol of the bishop's teaching authority in the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and has in some sense remained such in the Anglican Communion and in Lutheran churches...

, an ancient chair sometimes presumed to have been used by Saint Peter himself, but which was a gift from Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald
Charles the Bald , Holy Roman Emperor and King of West Francia , was the youngest son of the Emperor Louis the Pious by his second wife Judith.-Struggle against his brothers:He was born on 13 June 823 in Frankfurt, when his elder...

 and used by various popes, symbolises the continuing line of apostolic succession
Apostolic Succession
Apostolic succession is a doctrine, held by some Christian denominations, which asserts that the chosen successors of the Twelve Apostles, from the first century to the present day, have inherited the spiritual, ecclesiastical and sacramental authority, power, and responsibility that were...

 from St. Peter to the present pope. It occupies an elevated position in the apse, supported symbolically by the Doctors of the Church, and enlightened symbolically by the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

.

Burial site of St. Peter



After the crucifixion
Crucifixion
Crucifixion is an ancient method of painful execution in which the condemned person is tied or nailed to a large wooden cross and left to hang until dead...

 of Jesus in the second quarter of the 1st century AD, it is recorded in the Biblical book of the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 that one of his twelve disciples, Simon known as Peter, a fisherman from Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, took a leadership position among Jesus' followers and was of great importance in the founding of the Christian Church
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

. The name Peter is "Petrus" in Latin and "Petros" in Greek, deriving from "petra" which means "stone" or "rock" in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

.

It is believed by a long tradition that Peter, after a ministry of about thirty years, travelled to Rome and met his martyrdom there in the year 64 AD during the reign of the Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

. His execution was one of the many martyrdoms of Christians following the Great Fire of Rome
Great Fire of Rome
The Great Fire of Rome was an urban fire that occurred beginning July 19, AD 64.-Background:According to Tacitus, the fire spread quickly and burned for six days. Only four of the fourteen districts of Rome escaped the fire; three districts were completely destroyed and the other seven suffered...

. According to Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

, Peter was crucified head downwards, by his own request because he considered himself unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. The crucifixion took place near an ancient Egyptian obelisk in the Circus of Nero
Circus of Nero
The Circus of Nero or Circus of Caligula was a circus in ancient Rome.-Construction:It was begun by Caligula on the property of his mother Agrippina on the Ager Vaticanus , and finished by Nero...

. The obelisk now stands in Saint Peter's Square
Saint Peter's Square
Saint Peter's Square is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome .-History of St...

 and is revered as a "witness" to Peter's death. It is one of several ancient Obelisks of Rome.

According to tradition, Peter's remains were buried just outside the Circus, on the Mons Vaticanus
Vatican Hill
Vatican Hill is the name given, long before the founding of Christianity, to one of the hills on the side of the Tiber opposite the traditional seven hills of Rome...

 across the Via Cornelia
Via Cornelia
Via Cornelia is an ancient Roman Road that supposedly ran east west along the northern wall of the Circus of Nero on land now covered by the southern wall of St. Peter's Basilica. It is closely associated with the Via Aurelia and the Via Triumphalis...

 from the Circus, less than 150 metres (492.1 ft) from his place of death. The Via Cornelia (which may have been known by another name to the ancient Romans) was a road which ran east-to-west along the north wall of the Circus on land now covered by the southern portions of the Basilica and Saint Peter's Square. Peter's grave was initially marked simply by a red rock, symbolic of his name, but meaningless to non-Christians. A shrine was built on this site some years later. Almost three hundred years later, Old Saint Peter's Basilica
Old Saint Peter's Basilica
Old Saint Peter's Basilica was the building that stood, from the 4th to 16th centuries, on the spot where the Basilica of Saint Peter stands today in Rome. Construction of the Basilica, built over the historical site of the Circus of Nero, began during the reign of emperor Constantine I...

 was constructed over this site.

In 1939, in the reign of Pope Pius XII, 10 years of archaeological research began, under the crypt of the basilica, an area inaccessible since the 9th century. Indeed, the area now covered by the Vatican City
Vatican City
Vatican City , or Vatican City State, in Italian officially Stato della Città del Vaticano , which translates literally as State of the City of the Vatican, is a landlocked sovereign city-state whose territory consists of a walled enclave within the city of Rome, Italy. It has an area of...

 had been a cemetery for some years before the Circus of Nero was built. It was a burial ground for the numerous executions in the Circus and contained many Christian burials, perhaps because for many years after the burial of Saint Peter
Saint Peter
Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

 many Christians chose to be buried near him. The excavations revealed the remains of shrines of different periods at different levels, from Clement VIII (1594) to Callixtus II (1123) and Gregory I
Pope Gregory I
Pope Gregory I , better known in English as Gregory the Great, was pope from 3 September 590 until his death...

 (590–604), built over an aedicula
Aedicula
In religion in ancient Rome, an aedicula is a small shrine. The word aedicula is the diminutive of the Latin aedes, a temple building or house....

 containing fragments of bones that were folded in a tissue with gold decorations, tinted with the precious murex purple. Although it could not be determined with certainty that the bones were those of Peter, the rare vestments suggested a burial of great importance. On 23 December 1950, in his pre-Christmas radio broadcast to the world, Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 announced the discovery of Saint Peter's tomb
Saint Peter's tomb
Saint Peter's tomb is a site under St. Peter's Basilica that includes several graves and a structure said by Vatican authorities to have been built to memorialize the location of St. Peter's grave. St. Peter's tomb is near the west end of a complex of mausoleums that date between about AD 130 and...

.

Old St. Peter's



Old St. Peter's Basilica was the fourth-century church begun by the Emperor Constantine between 319 and 333 AD. It was of typical basilical Latin Cross form with an apsidal end at the chancel, a wide nave and two aisles on either side. It was over 103.6 metres (339.9 ft) long, and the entrance was preceded by a large colonnaded atrium
Atrium (architecture)
In modern architecture, an atrium is a large open space, often several stories high and having a glazed roof and/or large windows, often situated within a larger multistory building and often located immediately beyond the main entrance doors...

. This church had been built over the small shrine believed to mark the burial place of St. Peter. It contained a very large number of burials and memorials, including those of most of the popes from St. Peter to the 15th century. Like all of the earliest churches in Rome, both this church and its successor had the entrance to the east and the apse at the west end of the building. Since the construction of the current basilica, the name Old St. Peter's Basilica has been used for its predecessor to distinguish the two buildings.

The plan to rebuild


By the end of the 15th century, having been neglected during the period of the Avignon Papacy
Avignon Papacy
The Avignon Papacy was the period from 1309 to 1376 during which seven Popes resided in Avignon, in modern-day France. This arose from the conflict between the Papacy and the French crown....

, the old basilica was in bad repair. It appears that the first pope to consider rebuilding, or at least making radical changes was Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V
Pope Nicholas V , born Tommaso Parentucelli, was Pope from March 6, 1447 to his death in 1455.-Biography:He was born at Sarzana, Liguria, where his father was a physician...

 (1447–55). He commissioned work on the old building from Leone Battista Alberti
Leone Battista Alberti
Leon Battista Alberti was an Italian author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, cryptographer and general Renaissance humanist polymath...

 and Bernardo Rossellino
Bernardo Rossellino
Bernardo di Matteo del Borra Gamberelli , better known as Bernardo Rossellino, was an Italian sculptor and architect, the elder brother of the sculptor Antonio Rossellino...

 and also got Rossellino to design a plan for an entirely new basilica, or an extreme modification of the old. His reign was frustrated by political problems and when he died, little had been achieved. He had, however, ordered the demolition of the Colosseum
Colosseum
The Colosseum, or the Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre , is an elliptical amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire...

 and by the time of his death, 2,522 cartloads of stone had been transported for use in the new building.

Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II
Pope Julius II , nicknamed "The Fearsome Pope" and "The Warrior Pope" , born Giuliano della Rovere, was Pope from 1503 to 1513...

 planned far more for St Peter's than Nicholas V's program of repair or modification. Julius was at that time planning his own tomb, which was to be designed and adorned with sculpture by Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 and placed within St Peter's. In 1505 Julius made a decision to demolish the ancient basilica and replace it with a monumental structure to house his enormous tomb and "aggrandize himself in the popular imagination". A competition was held, and a number of the designs have survived at the Uffizi Gallery. A succession of popes and architects followed in the next 120 years, their combined efforts resulting in the present building. The scheme begun by Julius II continued through the reigns of Leo X
Pope Leo X
Pope Leo X , born Giovanni di Lorenzo de' Medici, was the Pope from 1513 to his death in 1521. He was the last non-priest to be elected Pope. He is known for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica and his challenging of Martin Luther's 95 Theses...

 (1513–1521), Hadrian VI (1522–1523). Clement VII
Pope Clement VII
Clement VII , born Giulio di Giuliano de' Medici, was a cardinal from 1513 to 1523 and was Pope from 1523 to 1534.-Early life:...

 (1523–1534), Paul III
Pope Paul III
Pope Paul III , born Alessandro Farnese, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from 1534 to his death in 1549. He came to the papal throne in an era following the sack of Rome in 1527 and rife with uncertainties in the Catholic Church following the Protestant Reformation...

 (1534–1549), Julius III
Pope Julius III
Pope Julius III , born Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte, was Pope from 7 February 1550 to 1555....

 (1550–1555), Marcellus II
Pope Marcellus II
Pope Marcellus II , born Marcello Cervini degli Spannochi, was Pope from 9 April 1555 to 1 May 1555, succeeding Pope Julius III. Before his accession as Pope he had been Cardinal-Priest of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. He is the most recent Pope to choose to retain his birth name as his regnal name...

 (1555), Paul IV
Pope Paul IV
Pope Paul IV, C.R. , né Giovanni Pietro Carafa, was Pope from 23 May 1555 until his death.-Early life:Giovanni Pietro Carafa was born in Capriglia Irpina, near Avellino, into a prominent noble family of Naples...

 (1555–1559), Pius IV
Pope Pius IV
Pope Pius IV , born Giovanni Angelo Medici, was Pope from 1559 to 1565. He is notable for presiding over the culmination of the Council of Trent.-Biography:...

 (1559–1565), Pius V
Pope Pius V
Pope Saint Pius V , born Antonio Ghislieri , was Pope from 1566 to 1572 and is a saint of the Catholic Church. He is chiefly notable for his role in the Council of Trent, the Counter-Reformation, and the standardization of the Roman liturgy within the Latin Church...

 (saint) (1565–1572), Gregory XIII
Pope Gregory XIII
Pope Gregory XIII , born Ugo Boncompagni, was Pope from 1572 to 1585. He is best known for commissioning and being the namesake for the Gregorian calendar, which remains the internationally-accepted civil calendar to this date.-Youth:He was born the son of Cristoforo Boncompagni and wife Angela...

 (1572–1585), Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V , born Felice Peretti di Montalto, was Pope from 1585 to 1590.-Early life:The chronicler Andrija Zmajević states that Felice's family originated from modern-day Montenegro...

 (1585–1590), Urban VII
Pope Urban VII
Pope Urban VII , born Giovanni Battista Castagna, was Pope for thirteen days in September 1590. He was of Genoese origin, although born in Rome. He was created Cardinal-Priest of S. Marcello in 1584...

 (1590), Gregory XIV
Pope Gregory XIV
Pope Gregory XIV , born Niccolò Sfondrati, was Pope from 5 December 1590 until his death in 1591.- Early career :...

 (1590–1591), Innocent IX
Pope Innocent IX
Pope Innocent IX , born Giovanni Antonio Facchinetti, was Pope from 29 October 1591 to his death on 30 December of the same year...

 (1591), Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII
Pope Clement VIII , born Ippolito Aldobrandini, was Pope from 30 January 1592 to 3 March 1605.-Cardinal:...

 (1592–1605), Leo XI
Pope Leo XI
Pope Leo XI , born Alessandro Ottaviano de' Medici, was Pope from 1 April 1605 to 27 April of the same year.-Biography:...

 (1605), Paul V
Pope Paul V
-Theology:Paul met with Galileo Galilei in 1616 after Cardinal Bellarmine had, on his orders, warned Galileo not to hold or defend the heliocentric ideas of Copernicus. Whether there was also an order not to teach those ideas in any way has been a matter for controversy...

 (1605–1621), Gregory XV
Pope Gregory XV
Pope Gregory XV , born Alessandro Ludovisi, was pope from 1621, succeeding Paul V on 9 February 1621...

 (1621–1623), Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII , born Maffeo Barberini, was pope from 1623 to 1644. He was the last pope to expand the papal territory by force of arms, and was a prominent patron of the arts and reformer of Church missions...

 (1623–1644) and Innocent X
Pope Innocent X
Pope Innocent X , born Giovanni Battista Pamphilj , was Pope from 1644 to 1655. Born in Rome of a family from Gubbio in Umbria who had come to Rome during the pontificate of Pope Innocent IX, he graduated from the Collegio Romano and followed a conventional cursus honorum, following his uncle...

 (1644–1655).

Financing with indulgences


One method employed to finance the building of St. Peter's Basilica was the granting of indulgences in return for contributions. A major promoter of this method of fund-raising was Albrecht, Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg, who had to clear debts owed to the Roman Curia
Roman Curia
The Roman Curia is the administrative apparatus of the Holy See and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the Pope...

 by contributing to the rebuilding program. To facilitate this, he appointed the German Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 preacher Johann Tetzel
Johann Tetzel
Johann Tetzel was a German Dominican preacher known for selling indulgences.-Life:Tetzel was born in Pirna, Saxony, and studied theology and philosophy at the university of his native city...

, whose salesmanship provoked a scandal.

A German Augustinian priest, Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

, wrote to Archbishop Albrecht arguing against this "selling of indulgences". He also included his "Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences", which came to be known as The 95 Theses. This became a factor in starting the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, the birth of Protestantism.

Successive plans





Pope Julius' scheme for the grandest building in Christendom was the subject of a competition for which a number of entries remain intact in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence. It was the design of Donato Bramante
Donato Bramante
Donato Bramante was an Italian architect, who introduced the Early Renaissance style to Milan and the High Renaissance style to Rome, where his most famous design was St...

 that was selected, and for which the foundation stone was laid in 1506. This plan was in the form of an enormous Greek Cross with a dome inspired by that of the huge circular Roman temple, the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

. The main difference between Bramante's design and that of the Pantheon is that where the dome of the Pantheon is supported by a continuous wall, that of the new basilica was to be supported only on four large piers. This feature was maintained in the ultimate design. Bramante's dome was to be surmounted by a lantern
Roof lantern
A roof lantern is a daylighting cupola architectural element. Architectural lanterns are atop a larger roof and provide natural light into the space or room below. In contemporary use it is an architectural skylight structure...

 with its own small dome but otherwise very similar in form to the Early Renaissance lantern of Florence Cathedral designed for Brunelleschi's dome by Michelozzo
Michelozzo
thumb|250px|[[Palazzo Medici]] in Florence.Michelozzo di Bartolomeo Michelozzi was an Italian architect and sculptor.-Biography:...

.

Bramante had envisioned that the central dome be surrounded by four lower domes at the diagonal axes. The equal chancel, nave and transept arms were each to be of two bays ending in an apse. At each corner of the building was to stand a tower, so that the overall plan was square, with the apses projecting at the cardinal points. Each apse had two large radial buttresses, which squared off its semi-circular shape.

When Pope Julius died in 1513, Bramante was replaced with Giuliano da Sangallo
Giuliano da Sangallo
Giuliano da Sangallo was an Italian sculptor, architect and military engineer active during the Italian Renaissance.He was born in Florence. His father Francesco Giamberti was a woodworker and architect, much employed by Cosimo de Medici, and his brother Antonio da Sangallo the Elder and nephew...

, Fra Giocondo
Giovanni Giocondo
Friar Giovanni Giocondo, O.F.M., was an Italian friar, architect, antiquary, archaeologist, and classical scholar.-Biography:...

 and Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

. Sangallo and Fra Giocondo both died in 1515, Bramante himself having died the previous year. The main change in Raphael's plan is the nave of five bays, with a row of complex apsidal chapels off the aisles on either side. Raphael's plan for the chancel and transepts made the squareness of the exterior walls more definite by reducing the size of the towers, and the semi-circular apses more clearly defined by encircling each with an ambulatory.

In 1520 Raphael also died, aged 37, and his successor Baldassare Peruzzi
Baldassare Peruzzi
Baldassare Tommaso Peruzzi was an Italian architect and painter, born in a small town near Siena and died in Rome. He worked for many years, beginning in 1520, under Bramante, Raphael, and later Sangallo during the erection of the new St. Peter's...

 maintained changes that Raphael had proposed to the internal arrangement of the three main apses, but otherwise reverted to the Greek Cross plan and other features of Bramante. This plan did not go ahead because of various difficulties of both church and state. In 1527 Rome was sacked and plundered by Emperor Charles V. Peruzzi died in 1536 without his plan being realized.

At this point Antonio da Sangallo the Younger
Antonio da Sangallo the Younger
thumb|250px|The church of Santa Maria di Loreto near the [[Trajan's Market]] in [[Rome]], considered Sangallo's masterwork.thumb|250px|View of St. Patrick's Well in [[Orvieto]]....

 submitted a plan which combines features of Peruzzi, Raphael and Bramante in its design and extends the building into a short nave with a wide façade and portico of dynamic projection. His proposal for the dome was much more elaborate of both structure and decoration than that of Bramante and included ribs on the exterior. Like Bramante, Sangallo proposed that the dome be surmounted by a lantern which he redesigned to a larger and much more elaborate form. Sangallo's main practical contribution was to strengthen Bramante's piers which had begun to crack.

On 1 January 1547 in the reign of Pope Paul III, Michelangelo, then in his seventies, succeeded Sangallo the Younger as "Capomaestro", the superintendent of the building program at St Peter's. He is to be regarded as the principal designer of a large part of the building as it stands today, and as bringing the construction to a point where it could be carried through. He did not take on the job with pleasure; it was forced upon him by Pope Paul, frustrated at the death of his chosen candidate, Giulio Romano
Giulio Romano
Giulio Romano was an Italian painter and architect. A pupil of Raphael, his stylistic deviations from high Renaissance classicism help define the 16th-century style known as Mannerism...

 and the refusal of Jacopo Sansovino
Jacopo Sansovino
Jacopo d'Antonio Sansovino was an Italian sculptor and architect, known best for his works around the Piazza San Marco in Venice. Andrea Palladio, in the Preface to his Quattro Libri was of the opinion that Sansovino's Biblioteca Marciana was the best building erected since Antiquity...

 to leave Venice. Michelangelo wrote "I undertake this only for the love of God and in honour of the Apostle." He insisted that he should be given a free hand to achieve the ultimate aim by whatever means he saw fit.

Michelangelo's contribution


Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 took over a building site at which four piers, enormous beyond any constructed since the days of Ancient Rome, were rising behind the remaining nave of the old basilica. He also inherited the numerous schemes designed and redesigned by some of the greatest architectural and engineering minds of the 16th century. There were certain common elements in these schemes. They all called for a dome to equal that engineered by Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. He is perhaps most famous for inventing linear perspective and designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but his accomplishments also included bronze artwork, architecture , mathematics,...

 a century earlier and which has since dominated the skyline of Renaissance Florence, and they all called for a strongly symmetrical plan of either Greek Cross form, like the iconic St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, or of a Latin Cross with the transepts of identical form to the chancel, as at Florence Cathedral.

Even though the work had progressed only a little in 40 years, Michelangelo did not simply dismiss the ideas of the previous architects. He drew on them in developing a grand vision. Above all, Michelangelo recognized the essential quality of Bramante's original design. He reverted to the Greek Cross and, as Helen Gardner expresses it: "Without destroying the centralising features of Bramante's plan, Michelangelo, with a few strokes of the pen converted its snowflake complexity into massive, cohesive unity."

As it stands today, St. Peter's has been extended with a nave by Carlo Maderno
Carlo Maderno
Carlo Maderno was a Swiss-Italian architect, born in Ticino, who is remembered as one of the fathers of Baroque architecture. His façades of Santa Susanna, St. Peter's Basilica and Sant'Andrea della Valle were of key importance in the evolution of the Italian Baroque...

. It is the chancel end (the ecclesiastical "Eastern end") with its huge centrally placed dome that is the work of Michelangelo. Because of its location within the Vatican State and because the projection of the nave screens the dome from sight when the building is approached from the square in front of it, the work of Michelangelo is best appreciated from a distance. What becomes apparent is that the architect has greatly reduced the clearly defined geometric forms of Bramante's plan of a square with square projections, and also of Raphael's plan of a square with semi-circular projections. Michelangelo has blurred the definition of the geometry by making the external masonry of massive proportions and filling in every corner with a small vestry or stairwell. The effect created is of a continuous wall-surface that is folded or fractured at different angles, but lacks the right-angles which usually define change of direction at the corners of a building. This exterior is surrounded by a giant order
Giant order
In Classical architecture, a giant order is an order whose columns or pilasters span two stories...

 of Corinthian pilasters all set at slightly different angles to each other, in keeping with the ever-changing angles of the wall's surface. Above them the huge cornice ripples in a continuous band, giving the appearance of keeping the whole building in a state of compression.

Dome – successive designs and final solution



The dome of St. Peter's rises to a total height of 136.57 metres (448.1 ft) from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross. It is the tallest dome in the world. Its internal diameter is 41.47 metres (136.1 ft), slightly smaller than two of the three other huge domes that preceded it, those of the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

 of Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, 43.3 metres (142.1 ft), and Florence Cathedral of the Early Renaissance
Renaissance architecture
Renaissance architecture is the architecture of the period between the early 15th and early 17th centuries in different regions of Europe, demonstrating a conscious revival and development of certain elements of ancient Greek and Roman thought and material culture. Stylistically, Renaissance...

, 44 metres (144.4 ft). It has a greater diameter by approximately 30 feet (9.1 m) than Constantinople's Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 church, completed in 537. It was to the domes of the Pantheon and Florence duomo that the architects of St. Peter's looked for solutions as to how to go about building what was conceived, from the outset, as the greatest dome of Christendom.

Bramante and Sangallo, 1506 and 1513


The dome of the Pantheon
Pantheon, Rome
The Pantheon ,Rarely Pantheum. This appears in Pliny's Natural History in describing this edifice: Agrippae Pantheum decoravit Diogenes Atheniensis; in columnis templi eius Caryatides probantur inter pauca operum, sicut in fastigio posita signa, sed propter altitudinem loci minus celebrata.from ,...

 stands on a circular wall with no entrances or windows except a single door. The whole building is as high as it is wide. Its dome is constructed in a single shell of concrete, made light by the inclusion of a large amount of the volcanic stones tuff and pumice. The inner surface of the dome is deeply coffered which has the effect of creating both vertical and horizontal ribs, while lightening the overall load. At the summit is an ocular opening 8 metres (26.2 ft) across which provides light to the interior.

Bramante's plan for the dome of St. Peter's (1506) follows that of the Pantheon very closely, and like that of the Pantheon, was designed to be constructed in tufa concrete for which he had rediscovered a formula. With the exception of the lantern that surmounts it, the profile is very similar, except that in this case the supporting wall becomes a drum raised high above ground level on four massive piers. The solid wall, as used at the Pantheon, is lightened at St. Peter's by Bramante piercing it with windows and encircling it with a peristyle
Peristyle
In Hellenistic Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a columned porch or open colonnade in a building surrounding a court that may contain an internal garden. Tetrastoon is another name for this feature...

.

In the case of Florence Cathedral, the desired visual appearance of the pointed dome existed for many years before Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi
Filippo Brunelleschi was one of the foremost architects and engineers of the Italian Renaissance. He is perhaps most famous for inventing linear perspective and designing the dome of the Florence Cathedral, but his accomplishments also included bronze artwork, architecture , mathematics,...

 made its construction feasible. Its double-shell construction of bricks locked together in herringbone pattern (re-introduced from Byzantine architecture), and the gentle upward slope of its eight stone ribs made it possible for the construction to take place without the massive wooden formwork necessary to construct hemispherical arches. While its appearance, with the exception of the details of the lantern, is entirely Gothic, its engineering was highly innovative, and the product of a mind that had studied the huge vaults and remaining dome of Ancient Rome.

Sangallo's plan (1513), of which a large wooden model still exists, looks to both these predecessors. He realised the value of both the coffering at the Pantheon and the outer stone ribs at Florence Cathedral. He strengthened and extended the peristyle of Bramante into a series of arched and ordered openings around the base, with a second such arcade set back in a tier above the first. In his hands, the rather delicate form of the lantern, based closely on that in Florence, became a massive structure, surrounded by a projecting base, a peristyle and surmounted by a spire of conic form. According to James Lees-Milne the design was "too eclectic, too pernickety and too tasteless to have been a success".

Michelangelo and Giacomo della Porta, 1547 and 1585



Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 redesigned the dome in 1547, taking into account all that had gone before. His dome, like that of Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, is constructed of two shells of brick, the outer one having 16 stone ribs, twice the number at Florence but far fewer than in Sangallo's design. As with the designs of Bramante and Sangallo, the dome is raised from the piers on a drum. The encircling peristyle of Bramante and the arcade of Sangallo are reduced to 16 pairs of Corinthian columns, each of 15 metres (49.2 ft) high which stand proud of the building, connected by an arch. Visually they appear to buttress each of the ribs, but structurally they are probably quite redundant. The reason for this is that the dome is ovoid in shape, rising steeply as does the dome of Florence Cathedral, and therefore exerting less outward thrust than does a hemispherical dome, such as that of the Pantheon, which, although it is not buttressed, is countered by the downward thrust of heavy masonry which extends above the circling wall.

The ovoid profile of the dome has been the subject of much speculation and scholarship over the past century. Michelangelo died in 1564, leaving the drum of the dome complete, and Bramante's piers much bulkier than originally designed, each 18 metres (59.1 ft) across. Following his death, the work continued under his assistant Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola with Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, writer, historian, and architect, who is famous today for his biographies of Italian artists, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.-Biography:...

 appointed by Pope Pius V as a watchdog to make sure that Michelangelo's plans were carried out exactly. Despite Vignola's knowledge of Michelangelo's intentions, little happened in this period. In 1585 the energetic Pope Sixtus appointed Giacomo della Porta
Giacomo della Porta
Giacomo della Porta was an Italian architect and sculptor, who worked on many important buildings in Rome, including St. Peter's Basilica. He was born at Porlezza, Lombardy and died in Rome.-Biography:...

 who was to be assisted by Domenico Fontana
Domenico Fontana
Domenico Fontana was a Swiss-born Italian architect of the late Renaissance.-Biography:200px|thumb|Fountain of Moses in Rome....

. The five year reign of Sixtus was to see the building advance at a great rate.

Michelangelo left a few drawings, including an early drawing of the dome, and some drawings of details. There were also detailed engravings published in 1569 by Stefan du Pérac who claimed that they were the master's final solution. Michelangelo, like Sangallo before him, also left a large wooden model. Giacomo della Porta subsequently altered this model in several ways, in keeping with changes that he made to the design. Most of these changes were of a cosmetic nature, such as the adding of lion's masks over the swags on the drum in honour of Pope Sixtus and adding a circlet of finials around the spire at the top of the lantern, as proposed by Sangallo. The major change that was made to the model, either by della Porta, or Michelangelo himself before his death, was to raise the outer dome higher above the inner one.

A drawing by Michelangelo indicates that his early intentions were towards an ovoid dome, rather than a hemispherical one. Stefan du Pérac's engraving shows a hemispherical dome, but this was perhaps an inaccuracy of the engraver. The profile of the wooden model is more ovoid than that of the engraving, but less so than the finished product. It has been suggested that Michelangelo on his death bed reverted to the more pointed shape. However Lees-Milne cites Giacomo della Porta as taking full responsibility for the change and as indicating to Pope Sixtus that Michelangelo was lacking in the scientific understanding of which he himself was capable.

Helen Gardner suggests that Michelangelo made the change to the hemispherical dome of lower profile in order to establish a balance between the dynamic vertical elements of the encircling giant order of pilasters and a more static and reposeful dome. Gardner also comments "The sculpturing of architecture [by Michelangelo]... here extends itself up from the ground through the attic stories and moves on into the drum and dome, the whole building being pulled together into a unity from base to summit."

It is this sense of the building being sculptured, unified and "pulled together" by the encircling band of the deep cornice that led Eneide Mignacca to conclude that the ovoid profile, seen now in the end product, was an essential part of Michelangelo's first (and last) concept. The sculptor/architect has, figuratively speaking, taken all the previous designs in hand and compressed their contours as if the building were a lump of clay. The dome must appear to thrust upwards because of the apparent pressure created by flattening the building's angles and restraining its projections. If this explanation is the correct one, then the profile of the dome is not merely a structural solution, as perceived by Giacomo della Porta; it is part of the integrated design solution that is about visual tension and compression. In one sense, Michelangelo's dome may appear to look backward to the Gothic profile of Florence Cathedral and ignore the Classicism
Classicism
Classicism, in the arts, refers generally to a high regard for classical antiquity, as setting standards for taste which the classicists seek to emulate. The art of classicism typically seeks to be formal and restrained: of the Discobolus Sir Kenneth Clark observed, "if we object to his restraint...

 of the Renaissance, but on the other hand, perhaps more than any other building of the 16th century, it prefigures the architecture of the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

.

Completion



Giacomo della Porta and Fontana brought the dome to completion in 1590, the last year of the reign of Sixtus V. His successor, Gregory XIV, saw Fontana complete the lantern and had an inscription to the honour of Sixtus V placed around its inner opening. The next pope, Clement VIII, had the cross raised into place, an event which took all day, and was accompanied by the ringing of the bells of all the city's churches. In the arms of the cross are set two lead caskets, one containing a fragment of the True Cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

 and a relic of St. Andrew and the other containing medallions of the Holy Lamb.

In the mid-18th century, cracks appeared in the dome, so four iron chains were installed between the two shells to bind it, like the rings that keep a barrel from bursting. As many as ten chains have been installed at various times, the earliest possibly planned by Michelangelo himself as a precaution, as Brunelleschi did at Florence Cathedral.

Around the inside of the dome is written, in letters 2 metres (6.6 ft) high:


("...you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. ... I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven..." Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, .)


Beneath the lantern is the inscription:


(To the glory of St Peter; Sixtus V, pope, in the year 1590 and the fifth year of his pontificate.)

Discovery of Michelangelo draft


On 7 December 2007, a fragment of a red chalk drawing of a section of the dome of Saint Peter's, almost certainly by the hand of Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

 was discovered in the Vatican archives. The drawing shows a small precisely drafted section of the plan of the entabulature above two of the radial columns of the cupola drum. Michelangelo is known to have destroyed thousands of his drawings before his death. The rare survival of this example is probably due to its fragmentary state and the fact that detailed mathematical calculations had been made over the top of the drawing.


The change of plan


On the first day of Lent
Lent
In the Christian tradition, Lent is the period of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer – through prayer, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the Death and...

, 18 February 1606, under Pope Paul V, the dismantling of the remaining parts of the Constantinian basilica began. The marble cross set at the top of the pediment by Pope Sylvester and the Emperor Constantine was lowered to the ground. The timbers were salvaged for the roof of the Borghese Palace and two rare black marble columns, the largest of their kind, were carefully stored and later used in the narthex. The tombs of various popes were opened, treasures removed and plans made for reinterment in the new basilica.

The Pope had appointed Carlo Maderno
Carlo Maderno
Carlo Maderno was a Swiss-Italian architect, born in Ticino, who is remembered as one of the fathers of Baroque architecture. His façades of Santa Susanna, St. Peter's Basilica and Sant'Andrea della Valle were of key importance in the evolution of the Italian Baroque...

 in 1602. He was a nephew of Domenico Fontana
Domenico Fontana
Domenico Fontana was a Swiss-born Italian architect of the late Renaissance.-Biography:200px|thumb|Fountain of Moses in Rome....

 and had demonstrated himself as a dynamic architect. Maderno's idea was to ring Michelangelo's building with chapels, but the Pope was hesitant about deviating from the master's plan, even though he had been dead for forty years. The Fabbrica or building committee, a group drawn from various nationalities and generally despised by the Curia
Curia
A curia in early Roman times was a subdivision of the people, i.e. more or less a tribe, and with a metonymy it came to mean also the meeting place where the tribe discussed its affairs...

 who viewed the basilica as belonging to Rome rather than Christendom, were in a quandary as to how the building should proceed. One of the matters that influenced their thinking was the Counter-Reformation which increasingly associated a Greek Cross plan with paganism and saw the Latin Cross as truly symbolic of Christianity.

Another influence on the thinking of both the Fabbrica and the Curia was a certain guilt at the demolition of the ancient building. The ground on which it and its various associated chapels, vestries and sacristies had stood for so long was hallowed. The only solution was to build a nave that encompassed the whole space. In 1607 a committee of ten architects was called together, and a decision was made to extend Michelangelo's building into a nave. Maderno's plans for both the nave and the façade were accepted. The building began on 7 May 1607, and proceeded at a great rate, with an army of 700 labourers being employed. The following year, the façade was begun, in December 1614 the final touches were added to the stucco decoration of the vault and early in 1615 the partition wall between the two sections was pulled down. All the rubble was carted away, and the nave was ready for use by Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....

.

Maderno's façade


The façade designed by Maderno, is 114.69 metres (376.3 ft) wide and 45.55 metres (149.4 ft) high and is built of travertine
Travertine
Travertine is a form of limestone deposited by mineral springs, especially hot springs. Travertine often has a fibrous or concentric appearance and exists in white, tan, and cream-colored varieties. It is formed by a process of rapid precipitation of calcium carbonate, often at the mouth of a hot...

 stone, with a giant order of Corinthian columns and a central pediment rising in front of a tall attic
Attic style
In classical architecture, the term attic refers to a story or low wall above the cornice of a classical façade. This usage originated in the 17th century from the use of Attica style pilasters as adornments on the top story's façade...

 surmounted by thirteen statues: Christ flanked by eleven of the Apostles (except Peter, whose statue is left of the stairs) and John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

.
The inscription below the cornice
Cornice
Cornice molding is generally any horizontal decorative molding that crowns any building or furniture element: the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or the cornice around the edge of a pedestal. A simple cornice may be formed just with a crown molding.The function of the projecting...

 on the 1 metres (3.3 ft) tall frieze
Frieze
thumb|267px|Frieze of the [[Tower of the Winds]], AthensIn architecture the frieze is the wide central section part of an entablature and may be plain in the Ionic or Doric order, or decorated with bas-reliefs. Even when neither columns nor pilasters are expressed, on an astylar wall it lies upon...

 reads:

(Paul V
Pope Paul V
-Theology:Paul met with Galileo Galilei in 1616 after Cardinal Bellarmine had, on his orders, warned Galileo not to hold or defend the heliocentric ideas of Copernicus. Whether there was also an order not to teach those ideas in any way has been a matter for controversy...

 Borghese, Supreme Roman Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate, erected in honor of the Prince of Apostles)


The façade is often cited as the least satisfactory part of the design of St. Peter's. The reasons for this, according to James Lees-Milne, are that it was not given enough consideration by the Pope and committee because of the desire to get the building completed quickly, coupled with the fact that Maderno was hesitant to deviate from the pattern set by Michelangelo at the other end of the building. Lees-Milne describes the problems of the façade as being too broad for its height, too cramped in its details and too heavy in the attic storey. The breadth is caused by modifying the plan to have towers on either side. These towers were never executed above the line of the facade because it was discovered that the ground was not sufficiently stable to bear the weight. One effect of the façade and lengthened nave is to screen the view of the dome, so that the building, from the front, has no vertical feature, except from a distance.

Narthex and portals


Behind the façade of St. Peter's stretches a long portico or "narthex" such as was occasionally found in Italian Romanesque churches. This is the part of Maderno's design with which he was most satisfied. Its long barrel vault is decorated with ornate stucco and gilt, and successfully illuminated by small windows between pendentives, while the ornate marble floor is beamed with light reflected in from the piazza. At each end of the narthex is a theatrical space framed by ionic columns and within each is set a statue, an equestrian figure of Charlemagne
Charlemagne
Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

 by Cornacchini
Agostino Cornacchini
Agostino Cornacchini was an Italian sculptor and painter of the Rococo period, active mainly in Rome.He was born in Pescia and died in Rome. In 1712, Cornacchini established himself in the household of his uncle, Cardinal Carlo Agostino Fabbroni, who until 1720 provided Cornacchini with a studio,...

 (18th century) in the south end and Emperor Constantine
Constantine I
Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

 by Bernini (1670) in the north end.

Five portals, of which three are framed by huge salvaged antique columns, lead into the basilica. The central portal has a bronze door created by Antonio Averulino in 1455 for the old basilica and somewhat enlarged to fit the new space.

Maderno's nave



To the single bay of Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

's Greek Cross, Maderno added a further three bays. He made the dimensions slightly different to Michelangelo's bay, thus defining where the two architectural works meet. Maderno also tilted the axis of the nave slightly. This was not by accident, as suggested by his critics. An ancient Egyptian obelisk had been erected in the square outside, but had not been quite aligned with Michelangelo's building, so Maderno compensated, in order that it should, at least, align with the Basilica's facade.

The nave has huge paired pilasters, in keeping with Michelangelo's work. The size of the interior is so "stupendously large" that it is hard to get a sense of scale within the building. The four cherubs who flutter against the first piers of the nave, carrying between them two Holy Water basins, appear of quite normal cherubic size, until approached. Then it becomes apparent that each one is over 2 metres high and that real children cannot reach the basins unless they scramble up the marble draperies. The aisles each have two smaller chapels and a larger rectangular chapel, the Chapel of the Sacrament and the Choir Chapel. These are lavishly decorated with marble, stucco, gilt, sculpture and mosaic. Remarkably, there are very few paintings, although some, such as Raphael's "Sistine Madonna" have been reproduced in mosaic. The most precious painting is a small icon of the Madonna, removed from the old basilica.

Maderno's last work at St. Peter's was to design a crypt-like space or "Confessio" under the dome, where the Cardinals and other privileged persons could descend in order to be nearer the burial place of the apostle. Its marble steps are remnants of the old basilica and around its balustrade are 95 bronze lamps.

Influence on church architecture


The design of St. Peter's Basilica, and in particular its dome, has greatly influenced church architecture
Church architecture
Church architecture refers to the architecture of buildings of Christian churches. It has evolved over the two thousand years of the Christian religion, partly by innovation and partly by imitating other architectural styles as well as responding to changing beliefs, practices and local traditions...

 in Western Christendom
Western Christianity
Western Christianity is a term used to include the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church and groups historically derivative thereof, including the churches of the Anglican and Protestant traditions, which share common attributes that can be traced back to their medieval heritage...

. Within Rome, the huge domed church of Sant'Andrea della Valle
Sant'Andrea della Valle
Sant'Andrea della Valle is a basilica church in Rome, Italy, in the rione of Sant'Eustachio. The basilica is the general seat for the religious order of the Theatines.-Overview:...

 was designed by Giacomo della Porta before the completion of St Peter's, and subsequently worked on by Carlo Maderno. This was followed by the domes of San Carlo ai Catinari
San Carlo ai Catinari
San Carlo ai Catinari, also called Santi Biagio e Carlo ai Catinari is an early-Baroque style church in Rome, Italy....

, Sant'Agnese in Agone
Sant'Agnese in Agone
Sant'Agnese in Agone is a seventeenth century Baroque church in Rome, Italy. It faces onto the Piazza Navona, one of the main urban spaces in the historic centre of the city and the site where the Early Christian Saint Agnes was martyred in the ancient Stadium of Domitian.The rebuilding of the...

 and many others. Christopher Wren
Christopher Wren
Sir Christopher Wren FRS is one of the most highly acclaimed English architects in history.He used to be accorded responsibility for rebuilding 51 churches in the City of London after the Great Fire in 1666, including his masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, on Ludgate Hill, completed in 1710...

's dome at St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul's Cathedral, London, is a Church of England cathedral and seat of the Bishop of London. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. St Paul's sits at the top of Ludgate Hill, the highest point in the City of London, and is the mother...

, the domes of Karlskirche
Karlskirche
The St. Charles's Church is a church situated on the south side of Karlsplatz, Vienna. It is located on the edge of the 1st district, 200 metres outside the Ringstraße...

 in Vienna, St Nicholas Church, Prague and the Pantheon, Paris
Panthéon, Paris
The Panthéon is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens...

 all pay homage to St Peter's.
The 19th and early 20th century architectural revivals brought about the building of a great number of churches that imitate elements of St Peter's to a greater or lesser degree, including St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago
St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago
Saint Mary of the Angels - historic church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.Located at 1850 North Hermitage Avenue in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, it is an example of the so-called 'Polish Cathedral style' of churches. Along with St. Stanislaus Kostka, St....

, St. Josaphat's Basilica in Milwaukee, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh
Immaculate Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Pittsburgh, referred to in Polish as Kościół Matki Boskiej, is a historic church of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, one of the city's oldest and largest churches...

 and Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral
Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral
The Cathedral-Basilica of Mary, Queen of the World in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, is the seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Montreal. It is the third largest church in Quebec after St. Joseph's Oratory and the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré east of Quebec City...

 in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, which replicates many aspects of St Peter's on a smaller scale. Post-Modernism has seen free adaptations of St Peter's in the Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro
Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro
The Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro is a Roman Catholic minor basilica dedicated to Our Lady of Peace in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Côte d'Ivoire . The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 at a cost of $300 million...

.

Bernini's furnishings



Pope Urban VIII and Bernini


As a young boy Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598–1680) visited St. Peter's with the painter Annibale Carracci
Annibale Carracci
Annibale Carracci was an Italian Baroque painter.-Early career:Annibale Carracci was born in Bologna, and in all likelihood first apprenticed within his family...

 and stated his wish to build "a mighty throne for the apostle". His wish came true. As a young man, in 1626, he received the patronage of Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII
Pope Urban VIII , born Maffeo Barberini, was pope from 1623 to 1644. He was the last pope to expand the papal territory by force of arms, and was a prominent patron of the arts and reformer of Church missions...

 and worked on the embellishment of the Basilica for 50 years. Appointed as Maderno's successor in 1629, he was to become regarded as the greatest architect and sculptor of the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 period. Bernini's works at St. Peter's include the baldacchino, the Chapel of the Sacrament, the plan for the niches and loggias in the piers of the dome and the chair of St. Peter.

Baldacchino and niches



Bernini's first work at St. Peter's was to design the baldacchino
St. Peter's baldachin
Saint Peter's baldachin is a large Baroque sculpted bronze canopy, technically called a ciborium or baldachin, over the high altar of Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Rome, which is at the centre of the crossing and directly under the dome...

, a pavilion-like structure 30 metres (98.4 ft) tall and claimed to be the largest piece of bronze in the world, which stands beneath the dome and above the altar. Its design is based on the ciborium
Ciborium (architecture)
In ecclesiastical architecture, a ciborium is a canopy or covering supported by columns, freestanding in the sanctuary, that stands over and covers the altar in a basilica or other church. It may also be known by the more general term of baldachin, though ciborium is often considered more correct...

, of which there are many in the churches of Rome, serving to create a sort of holy space above and around the table on which the Sacrament is laid for the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 and emphasizing the significance of this ritual. These ciborium are generally of white marble, with inlaid coloured stone. Bernini's concept was for something very different. He took his inspiration in part from the baldachin
Baldachin
A baldachin, or baldaquin , is a canopy of state over an altar or throne. It had its beginnings as a cloth canopy, but in other cases it is a sturdy, permanent architectural feature, particularly over high altars in cathedrals, where such a structure is more correctly called a ciborium when it is...

 or canopy carried above the head of the pope in processions, and in part from eight ancient columns that had formed part of a screen in the old basilica. Their twisted barley-sugar shape had a special significance as the column to which Jesus was bound before his crucifixion was believed to be of that shape. Based on these columns, Bernini created four huge columns of bronze, twisted and decorated with olive leaves and bees, which were the emblem of Pope Urban.

The baldacchino is surmounted not with an architectural pediment, like most baldacchini, but with curved Baroque brackets supporting a draped canopy, like the brocade canopies carried in processions above precious iconic images. In this case, the draped canopy is of bronze, and all the details, including the olive leaves, bees, and the portrait heads of Urban's niece in childbirth and her newborn son, are picked out in gold leaf. The baldacchino stands as a vast free-standing sculptural object, central to and framed by the largest space within the building. It is so large that the visual effect is to create a link between the enormous dome which appears to float above it, and the congregation at floor level of the basilica. It is penetrated visually from every direction, and is visually linked to the Cathedra Petri in the apse behind it and to the four piers containing large statues that are at each diagonal.

As part of the scheme for the central space of the church, Bernini had the huge piers, begun by Bramante and completed by Michelangelo, hollowed out into niches, and had staircases made inside them, leading to four balconies. There was much dismay from those who thought that the dome might fall, but it did not. On the balconies Bernini created showcases, framed by the eight ancient twisted columns, to display the four most precious relics of the basilica: the spear of Longinus, said to have pierced the side of Christ, the veil of Veronica, with the miraculous image of the face of Christ, a fragment of the True Cross
True Cross
The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

 discovered in Jerusalem by Constantine's mother, Helena, and a relic of St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter. In each of the niches that surround the central space of the basilica was placed a huge statue of the saint associated with the relic above. Only St. Longinus is the work of Bernini. (See below)


Cathedra Petri and Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament


Bernini then turned his attention to another precious relic, the so-called Cathedra Petri or "throne of St. Peter" a chair which was often claimed to have been used by the apostle, but appears to date from the 12th century. As the chair itself was fast deteriorating and was no longer serviceable, Pope Alexander VII determined to enshrine it in suitable splendour as the object upon which the line of successors to Peter was based. Bernini created a large bronze throne in which it was housed, raised high on four looping supports held effortlessly by massive bronze statues of four Doctors of the Church, Saints Ambrose
Ambrose
Aurelius Ambrosius, better known in English as Saint Ambrose , was a bishop of Milan who became one of the most influential ecclesiastical figures of the 4th century. He was one of the four original doctors of the Church.-Political career:Ambrose was born into a Roman Christian family between about...

 and Augustine representing the Latin Church and Athanasius and John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom
John Chrysostom , Archbishop of Constantinople, was an important Early Church Father. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, his denunciation of abuse of authority by both ecclesiastical and political leaders, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, and his ascetic...

, the Greek Church. The four figures are dynamic with sweeping robes and expressions of adoration and ecstasy. Behind and above the Cathedra, a blaze of light comes in through a window of yellow alabaster, illuminating, at its centre, the Dove of the Holy Spirit. The elderly painter, Andrea Sacchi
Andrea Sacchi
Andrea Sacchi was an Italian painter of High Baroque Classicism, active in Rome. A generation of artists who shared his style of art include the painters Nicolas Poussin and Giovanni Battista Passeri, the sculptors Alessandro Algardi and François Duquesnoy, and the contemporary biographer Giovanni...

, had urged Bernini to make the figures large, so that they would be seen well from the central portal of the nave. The chair was enshrined in its new home with great celebration of 16 January 1666.

Bernini's final work for St. Peter's, undertaken in 1676, was the decoration of the Chapel of the Sacrament. To hold the sacramental Host, he designed a miniature version in gilt bronze of Bramante's Tempietto, the little chapel that marks the place of the death of St. Peter. On either side is an angel, one gazing in rapt adoration and the other looking towards the viewer in welcome. Bernini died in 1680 in his 82nd year.

St. Peter's Piazza



To the east of the basilica is the Piazza di San Pietro, (St. Peter's Square
Saint Peter's Square
Saint Peter's Square is located directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, the papal enclave within Rome .-History of St...

). The present arrangement, constructed between 1656 and 1667, is the Baroque
Baroque
The Baroque is a period and the style that used exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, tension, exuberance, and grandeur in sculpture, painting, literature, dance, and music...

 inspiration of Bernini who inherited a location already occupied by an Egyptian obelisk
Obelisk
An obelisk is a tall, four-sided, narrow tapering monument which ends in a pyramid-like shape at the top, and is said to resemble a petrified ray of the sun-disk. A pair of obelisks usually stood in front of a pylon...

 of the 13th century BC, which was centrally placed, (with some contrivance) to Maderno's facade. The obelisk, known as "The Witness", at 25.5 metres (83.7 ft) and a total height, including base and the cross on top, of 40 metres (131.2 ft), is the second largest standing obelisk, and the only one to remain standing since its removal from Egypt and re-erection at the Circus of Nero
Circus of Nero
The Circus of Nero or Circus of Caligula was a circus in ancient Rome.-Construction:It was begun by Caligula on the property of his mother Agrippina on the Ager Vaticanus , and finished by Nero...

 in 37 AD, where it is thought to have stood witness to the crucifixion of St Peter. Its removal to its present location by order of Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V
Pope Sixtus V , born Felice Peretti di Montalto, was Pope from 1585 to 1590.-Early life:The chronicler Andrija Zmajević states that Felice's family originated from modern-day Montenegro...

 and engineered by Domenico Fontana
Domenico Fontana
Domenico Fontana was a Swiss-born Italian architect of the late Renaissance.-Biography:200px|thumb|Fountain of Moses in Rome....

 on 28 September 1586, was an operation fraught with difficulties and nearly ending in disaster when the ropes holding the obelisk began to smoke from the friction. Fortunately this problem was noticed by a sailor, and for his swift intervention, his village was granted the privilege of providing the palms that are used at the basilica each Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four Canonical Gospels. ....

.

The other object in the old square with which Bernini had to contend was a large fountain designed by Maderno in 1613 and set to one side of the obelisk, making a line parallel with the façade. Bernini's plan uses this horizontal axis as a major feature of his unique, spatially dynamic and highly symbolic design. The most obvious solutions were either a rectangular piazza of vast proportions so that the obelisk stood centrally and the fountain (and a matching companion) could be included, or a trapezoid piazza which fanned out from the façade of the basilica like that in front of the Palazzo Publicco in Siena. The problems of the square plan are that the necessary width to include the fountain would entail the demolition of numerous buildings, including some of the Vatican, and would minimise the effect of the facade. The trapezoid plan, on the other hand, would maximise the apparent width of the façade, which was already perceived as a fault of the design.

Bernini's ingenious solution was to create a piazza in two sections. That part which is nearest the basilica is trapezoid, but rather than fanning out from the façade, it narrows. This gives the effect of countering the visual perspective. It means that from the second part of the piazza, the building looks nearer than it is, the breadth of the façade is minimized and its height appears greater in proportion to its width. The second section of the piazza is a huge elliptical circus which gently slopes downwards to the obelisk at its centre. The two distinct areas are framed by a colonnade formed by doubled pairs of columns supporting an entabulature of the simple Tuscan Order
Tuscan order
Among canon of classical orders of classical architecture, the Tuscan order's place is due to the influence of the Italian Sebastiano Serlio, who meticulously described the five orders including a "Tuscan order", "the solidest and least ornate", in his fourth book of Regole generalii di...

.

The part of the colonnade that is around the ellipse does not entirely encircle it, but reaches out in two arcs, symbolic of the arms of "the Roman Catholic Church reaching out to welcome its communicants". The obelisk and Maderno's fountain mark the widest axis of the ellipse. Bernini balanced the scheme with another fountain in 1675. The approach to the square used to be through a jumble of old buildings, which added an element of surprise to the vista that opened up upon passing through the colonnade. Nowadays a long wide street, the Via della Conciliazione
Via della Conciliazione
Via della Conciliazione is a street in the Rione of Borgo within Rome, Italy. Roughly 500 m in length, it connects Saint Peter's Square to the Castel Sant'Angelo on the western bank of the Tiber River. The road was constructed between 1936 and 1950, and it is the primary access route to the...

, built by Mussolini after the conclusion of the Lateran Treaties
Lateran treaties
The Lateran Treaty is one of the Lateran Pacts of 1929 or Lateran Accords, three agreements made in 1929 between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See, ratified June 7, 1929, ending the "Roman Question"...

, leads from the River Tiber to the piazza and gives distant views of St. Peter's as the visitor approaches.

Bernini's transformation of the site is entirely Baroque in concept. Where Bramante and Michelangelo conceived a building that stood in "self-sufficient isolation", Bernini made the whole complex "expansively relate to its environment". Banister Fletcher says "No other city has afforded such a wide-swept approach to its cathedral church, no other architect could have conceived a design of greater nobility...(it is) the greatest of all atriums before the greatest of all churches of Christendom."

Tombs and relics



There are over 100 tombs within St. Peter's Basilica (extant to various extents), many located in the Vatican grotto, beneath the Basilica. These include 91 popes, St. Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch was among the Apostolic Fathers, was the third Bishop of Antioch, and was a student of John the Apostle. En route to his martyrdom in Rome, Ignatius wrote a series of letters which have been preserved as an example of very early Christian theology...

, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition...

. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart
James Francis Edward Stuart
James Francis Edward, Prince of Wales was the son of the deposed James II of England...

 and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart
Charles Edward Stuart
Prince Charles Edward Louis John Casimir Sylvester Severino Maria Stuart commonly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie or The Young Pretender was the second Jacobite pretender to the thrones of Great Britain , and Ireland...

 and Henry Benedict Stuart
Henry Benedict Stuart
Henry Benedict Stuart was a Roman Catholic Cardinal, as well as the fourth and final Jacobite heir to publicly claim the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Unlike his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, and brother, Charles Edward Stuart, Henry made no effort to seize the throne...

, are buried here, having been granted asylum by Pope Clement XI
Pope Clement XI
Pope Clement XI , born Giovanni Francesco Albani, was Pope from 1700 until his death in 1721.-Early life:...

. Also buried here are Maria Clementina Sobieska
Maria Klementyna Sobieska
Maria Clementina Sobieska was a Polish noblewoman, the granddaughter of the Polish king John III Sobieski.-Biography:...

, wife of James Francis Edward Stuart, Queen Christina of Sweden
Christina of Sweden
Christina , later adopted the name Christina Alexandra, was Queen regnant of Swedes, Goths and Vandals, Grand Princess of Finland, and Duchess of Ingria, Estonia, Livonia and Karelia, from 1633 to 1654. She was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolph and his wife Maria Eleonora...

, who abdicated her throne in order to convert to Catholicism, and Countess Matilda of Tuscany
Matilda of Tuscany
Matilda of Tuscany was an Italian noblewoman, the principal Italian supporter of Pope Gregory VII during the Investiture Controversy. She is one of the few medieval women to be remembered for her military accomplishments...

, supporter of the Papacy during the Investiture Controversy
Investiture Controversy
The Investiture Controversy or Investiture Contest was the most significant conflict between Church and state in medieval Europe. In the 11th and 12th centuries, a series of Popes challenged the authority of European monarchies over control of appointments, or investitures, of church officials such...

. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II
Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

, on 8 April 2005. Beneath, near the crypt
Crypt
In architecture, a crypt is a stone chamber or vault beneath the floor of a burial vault possibly containing sarcophagi, coffins or relics....

, is the recently discovered vaulted fourth-century "Tomb of the Julii
Tomb of the Julii
The popularly-named "Tomb of the Julii" survives in the Vatican Necropolis beneath St. Peter's Basilica, the so-called "Vatican grotto"...

". (See below for some descriptions of tombs)

The towers and narthex




  • 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 cathedral 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 symbolising the Christian Church. Unfortunately, the mosaic as we have it is mostly a 17th century copy of Giotto's original.
  • At each end of the narthex is an equestrian figure, to the north Emperor Constantine
    Constantine I
    Constantine the Great , also known as Constantine I or Saint Constantine, was Roman Emperor from 306 to 337. Well known for being the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity, Constantine and co-Emperor Licinius issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which proclaimed religious tolerance of all...

     by Bernini (1670) and to the south Charlemagne
    Charlemagne
    Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. He expanded the Frankish kingdom into an empire that incorporated much of Western and Central Europe. During his reign, he conquered Italy and was crowned by Pope Leo III on 25 December 800...

     by Cornacchini
    Agostino Cornacchini
    Agostino Cornacchini was an Italian sculptor and painter of the Rococo period, active mainly in Rome.He was born in Pescia and died in Rome. In 1712, Cornacchini established himself in the household of his uncle, Cardinal Carlo Agostino Fabbroni, who until 1720 provided Cornacchini with a studio,...

     (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
    Giacomo Manzù
    Giacomo Manzù, pseudonym of Giacomo Manzoni , was an Italian sculptor, communist, and Roman Catholic.-Biography:...

     and includes a portrait of Pope John XXIII kneeling before the crucified figure of St. 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
    Jubilee (Christian)
    The concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In the Biblical Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly...

     by the Pope. The present door is bronze and was designed by Vico Consorti
    Vico Consorti
    Vico Consorti is a sculptor who built the bronze Holy Door in St. Peter's Basilica in 1950.---Lodovico Consorti was born in Semproniano, in south Toscana . He learnt from his father, doctor but also passionate musician, his love for art...

     in 1950. Above it are inscriptions commemorating the opening of the door: PAVLVS V PONT MAX ANNO XIII and GREGORIVS XIII PONT MAX. Recent commemorative plaques read:

    IOANNES PAVLVS II P.M.

    PORTAM SANCTAM

    ANNO IVBILAEI MCMLXXVI

    A PAVLO PP VI

    RESERVATAM ET CLAVSAM

    APERVIT ET CLAVSIT

    ANNO IVB HVMANE REDEMP

    MCMLXXXIII – MCMLXXXIV



    IOANNES PAVLVS II P.M.

    ITERVM PORTAM SANCTAM

    APERVIT ET CLAVSIT

    ANNO MAGNI IVBILAEI

    AB INCARNATIONE DOMINI

    MM-MMI



    PAVLVS VI PONT MAX

    HVIVS PATRIARCALIS

    VATICANAE BASILICAE

    PORTAM SANCTAM

    APERVIT ET CLAVSIT

    ANNO IVBILAEI MCMLXXV

    In the jubilee year of human redemption 1983-4, John Paul II
    Pope John Paul II
    Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

    , Pontifex Maximus
    Pontifex Maximus
    The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

    , opened and closed again the holy door closed and set apart by Paul VI in 1976.
    John Paul II, Pontifex Maximus, again opened and closed the holy door in the year of the great jubilee, from the incarnation of the Lord 2000–2001.
    Paul VI, Pontifex Maximus, opened and closed the holy door of this patriarchal Vatican basilica in the jubilee year of 1975.

    The nave

    • 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
      Agostino Cornacchini
      Agostino Cornacchini was an Italian sculptor and painter of the Rococo period, active mainly in Rome.He was born in Pescia and died in Rome. In 1712, Cornacchini established himself in the household of his uncle, Cardinal Carlo Agostino Fabbroni, who until 1720 provided Cornacchini with a studio,...

       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 St. Peter Enthroned, sometimes attributed to late 13th century sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio
      Arnolfo di Cambio
      Arnolfo di Cambio was an Italian architect and sculptor.-Biography:Arnolfo was born in Colle Val d'Elsa, Tuscany....

      , 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
      Pope Pius VI
      Pope Pius VI , born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, was Pope from 1775 to 1799.-Early years:Braschi was born in Cesena...

      , who was captured and mistreated by Napoleon's army.
    • In the Confessio is the Niche of the Pallium ("Niche of Stoles") which contains a bronze urn, donated by Pope Benedict XIV
      Pope Benedict XIV
      Pope Benedict XIV , born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, was Pope from 17 August 1740 to 3 May 1758.-Life:...

      , 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 holy relics: St. Helena
      Helena of Constantinople
      Saint Helena also known as Saint Helen, Helena Augusta or Helena of Constantinople was the consort of Emperor Constantius, and the mother of Emperor Constantine I...

       holding the True Cross
      True Cross
      The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a Christian tradition, are believed to be from the cross upon which Jesus was crucified.According to post-Nicene historians, Socrates Scholasticus and others, the Empress Helena The True Cross is the name for physical remnants which, by a...

      , by Andrea Bolgi
      Andrea Bolgi
      Andrea Bolgi was an Italian sculptor responsible for several statues in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome. Towards the end of his life he moved to Naples, where he sculpted portrait busts.-Early life:...

      ; St. Longinus holding the spear that pierced the side of Jesus, by Bernini (1639); St. Andrew
      Saint Andrew
      Saint Andrew , called in the Orthodox tradition Prōtoklētos, or the First-called, is a Christian Apostle and the brother of Saint Peter. The name "Andrew" , like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the 3rd or 2nd century BC. No Hebrew or Aramaic name is recorded for him...

       with the St. Andrew's Cross
      Saltire
      A saltire, or Saint Andrew's Cross, is a heraldic symbol in the form of a diagonal cross or letter ex . Saint Andrew is said to have been martyred on such a cross....

      , by Francois Duquesnoy
      François Duquesnoy
      François Duquesnoy was a Baroque sculptor in Rome. His more idealized representations are often contrasted with the emotional character of Bernini's works, while his style shows greater affinity to Algardi's sculptures....

       and St. Veronica
      Saint Veronica
      Saint Veronica or Berenice, according to the "Acta Sanctorum" published by the Bollandists , was a pious woman of Jerusalem who, moved with pity as Jesus carried his cross to Golgotha, gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead...

       holding her veil with the image of Jesus' face, by Francesco Mochi
      Francesco Mochi
      Francesco Mochi was an Italian early-Baroque sculptor active mostly in Rome and Orvieto.He was born in Montevarchi and died in Rome...

      .

    North aisle




    • In the first chapel of the north aisle is Michelangelo
      Michelangelo
      Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

      's Pietà
      Pietà (Michelangelo)
      The Pietà is a masterpiece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. It is the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. The statue was commissioned for the French cardinal Jean de Billheres, who was a representative in...

      .
    • 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 St. Sebastian, contains the statues of popes Pius XI
      Pope Pius XI
      Pope Pius XI , born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was Pope from 6 February 1922, and sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929 until his death on 10 February 1939...

       and Pius XII
      Pope Pius XII
      The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

      . The space below the altar used to be the resting place of Pope Innocent XI
      Pope Innocent XI
      Blessed Pope Innocent XI , born Benedetto Odescalchi, was Pope from 1676 to 1689.-Early life:Benedetto Odescalchi was born at Como in 1611 , the son of a Como nobleman, Livio Odescalchi, and Paola Castelli Giovanelli from Gandino...

       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
      Pope John Paul II
      Blessed Pope John Paul II , born Karol Józef Wojtyła , reigned as Pope of the Catholic Church and Sovereign of Vatican City from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted ; only Pope Pius IX ...

      . 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
      Donato Bramante
      Donato Bramante was an Italian architect, who introduced the Early Renaissance style to Milan and the High Renaissance style to Rome, where his most famous design was St...

      's Tempietto at San Pietro in Montorio
      San Pietro in Montorio
      San Pietro in Montorio is a church in Rome, Italy, which includes in its courtyard The Tempietto built by Donato Bramante.-History:...

       supported by two kneeling angels and with behind it a painting of the Holy Trinity by Pietro da Cortona
      Pietro da Cortona
      Pietro da Cortona, by the name of Pietro Berrettini, born Pietro Berrettini da Cortona, was the leading Italian Baroque painter of his time and also one of the key architects in the emergence of Roman Baroque architecture. He was also an important decorator...

      .
    • Near the altar of Our Lady of Succour are the monuments of popes Gregory XIII
      Pope Gregory XIII
      Pope Gregory XIII , born Ugo Boncompagni, was Pope from 1572 to 1585. He is best known for commissioning and being the namesake for the Gregorian calendar, which remains the internationally-accepted civil calendar to this date.-Youth:He was born the son of Cristoforo Boncompagni and wife Angela...

       by Camillo Rusconi
      Camillo Rusconi
      Camillo Rusconi was an Italian sculptor of the late Baroque in Rome. His style displays both features of Baroque and Neoclassicism. He has been described as a Carlo Maratta in marble.-Biography:...

       (1723) and Gregory XIV
      Pope Gregory XIV
      Pope Gregory XIV , born Niccolò Sfondrati, was Pope from 5 December 1590 until his death in 1591.- Early career :...

      .
    • At the end of the aisle is an altar containing the relics of St. Petronilla and with an altarpiece "The Burial of St Petronilla by Guercino (Giovanni Francesco Barbieri), 1623.

    South aisle

    • The first chapel in the south aisle is the baptistry, commissioned by Pope Innocent XII and designed by Carlo Fontana
      Carlo Fontana
      Carlo Fontana was an Italian architect, who was in part responsible for the classicizing direction taken by Late Baroque Roman architecture.-Biography:...

      , (great nephew of Domenico Fontana). The font, which was previously located in the opposite chapel, is the red porphyry
      Porphyry (geology)
      Porphyry is a variety of igneous rock consisting of large-grained crystals, such as feldspar or quartz, dispersed in a fine-grained feldspathic matrix or groundmass. The larger crystals are called phenocrysts...

       sarcophagus
      Sarcophagus
      A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

       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
      Hadrian
      Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

       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
      Monument to the Royal Stuarts
      The Monument to the Royal Stuarts is a memorial in St. Peter's Basilica, in the Vatican in Rome. It commemorates the last three members of the Royal House of Stuart: James Francis Edward Stuart, his elder son Charles Edward Stuart, and his younger son, Henry Benedict Stuart...

      , James and his sons, Charles Edward, known as "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and Henry, Cardinal and Duke of York. The tomb is a Neo-Classical
      Neoclassical architecture
      Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

       design by Canova unveiled in 1819. Opposite it is the memorial of James Francis Edward Stuart's wife, Maria Clementina Sobieska
      Maria Klementyna Sobieska
      Maria Clementina Sobieska was a Polish noblewoman, the granddaughter of the Polish king John III Sobieski.-Biography:...

      .
    • The second chapel is that of the Presentation of the Virgin and contains the tombs 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 St. Thomas
      Thomas the Apostle
      Thomas the Apostle, also called Doubting Thomas or Didymus was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is best known for questioning Jesus' resurrection when first told of it, then proclaiming "My Lord and my God" on seeing Jesus in . He was perhaps the only Apostle who went outside the Roman...

      , St. Joseph and the Crucifixion of St. Peter.

    • The tomb of Fabio Chigi, Pope Alexander VII
      Pope Alexander VII
      Pope Alexander VII , born Fabio Chigi, was Pope from 7 April 1655, until his death.- Early life :Born in Siena, a member of the illustrious banking family of Chigi and a great-nephew of Pope Paul V , he was privately tutored and eventually received doctorates of philosophy, law, and theology from...

      , 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 utilised 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
      Hourglass
      An hourglass measures the passage of a few minutes or an hour of time. It has two connected vertical glass bulbs allowing a regulated trickle of material from the top to the bottom. Once the top bulb is empty, it can be inverted to begin timing again. The name hourglass comes from historically...

       stretched upward towards the kneeling figure of the pope.

    Archpriests since 1053


    List of archpriest
    Archpriest
    An archpriest is a priest with supervisory duties over a number of parishes. The term is most often used in Eastern Orthodoxy and Eastern Catholic Churches, although it may be used in the Latin rite of the Roman Catholic Church instead of dean or vicar forane.In the 16th and 17th centuries, during...

    s of the Vatican Basilica:
    • Giovanni (1053)
    • Deusdedit
      Cardinal Deusdedit
      Cardinal Deusdedit was Cardinal-priest of St. Peter ad Vincula.He was a friend of Pope Saint Gregory VII and defender of his reformation measures. Deusdedit joined the Benedictine Order and became a zealous promoter of ecclesiastical reforms in the latter half of the eleventh century.-References:...

       (1092)
    • Azzo (1103–1104)
    • Rustico de' Rustici (ca. 1128–1131?)
    • Griffone (1138–1139)
    • Pietro (ca.1140?–1144)
    • Bernard (1145?–1176?)
    • Giovanni da Sutri (1176/78–1180)
    • Ugolino di Segni (ca.1191/1200–1206)
    • Guido Pierleoni (1206/7–1228)
    • Stefano Conti
      Stefano Conti
      Stefano Conti was an Italian 18th century merchant from Lucca, known for his expansive collection and patronage of contemporary Italian artists. He began his collection at age 50 in 1705, and utilized Alessandro Marchesini as his agent in Venice....

       (1229–1254)
    • Riccardo Annibaldi (1254–1276)
    • Giovanni Gaetano Orsini
      Pope Nicholas III
      Pope Nicholas III , born Giovanni Gaetano Orsini, Pope from November 25, 1277 to his death in 1280, was a Roman nobleman who had served under eight Popes, been made cardinal-deacon of St...

       (1276–1277)
    • Matteo Orsini Rosso (1277 or 1288–1305)
    • Napoleone Orsini Frangipani
      Napoleone Orsini Frangipani
      Napoleone Orsini Frangipani was an Roman Cardinal. His ecclesiastical career lasted 57 years, 54 of them as a cardinal, and included six conclaves. He was a member of the Orsini and Frangipani families....

       (1306–1342)
    • Annibaldo di Ceccano (1342–1350)
    • Guillaume de La Jugie (1362–1365)
    • Rinaldo Orsini
      Rinaldo Orsini
      Rinaldo Orsini was an Italian condottiero, a member of the Orsini family.In 1426 he fought for the Pope against the Colonna family. In 1442 he was hired by the Republic of Siena, and in 1445 he became lord of Piombino and Isola d'Elba through his marriage with Caterina Appiani...

       (1366–1374)
    • Hugues de Saint-Martial (1374–1378)
    • Philippe d'Alençon (1378–1397)
  • Cristoforo Maroni (1397–1404)
  • Angelo Acciaioli
    Angelo Acciaioli
    Angelo Acciaioli II or Angelo Acciaioli junior was an Italian Catholic cardinal.- Biography :Born in Florence, Angelo was elected bishop of Rapallo in 1375, but in 1383 he was transferred to the see of Florence where he had been preceded by a previous family member many years before, Angelo...

     (1404–1408)
  • Antonio Calvi (1408–1411)
  • Pedro Fernandez de Frias (1412–1420)
  • Antonio Correr
    Antonio Correr
    Antonio Correr was Italian Cardinal-nephew of Gregory XII, Pope of the Roman Obedience in the period of the Great Western Schism. He was also cousin of Pope Eugene IV. His last name is listed also as Corrario and Corraro....

     (1420–1434)
  • Giordano Orsini (1434–1438)
  • Giuliano Cesarini (1439–1444)
  • Pietro Barbo
    Pope Paul II
    Pope Paul II , born Pietro Barbo, was pope from 1464 until his death in 1471.- Early life :He was born in Venice, and was a nephew of Pope Eugene IV , through his mother. His adoption of the spiritual career, after having been trained as a merchant, was prompted by his uncle's election as pope...

     (1445–1464)
  • Richard Olivier (1464–1470)
  • Giovanni Battista Zeno
    Giovanni Battista Zeno
    Giovanni Battista Zeno was a cardinal of the Catholic Church.He was made a cardinal by his uncle, Pope Paul II in November 1468. The Zeno Chapel in St Mark's Basilica, Venice, was built as his tomb....

     (1470–1501)
  • Juan López (1501)
  • Ippolito d'Este
    Ippolito d'Este
    Ippolito d'Este was an Italian Roman Catholic cardinal, and Archbishop of Esztergom. He was a member of the House of Este.-Biography:...

     (1501–1520)
  • Marco Cornaro (1520)
  • Franciotto Orsini (1520–1530)
  • Francesco Cornaro
    Francesco Cornaro (cardinal)
    Francesco Cornaro was an Italian cardinal.He was born in Venice. He was made cardinal on 20 December 1527 by Pope Clement VII in his fourth consistorium...

     (1530–1543)
  • Alessandro Farnese (1543–1589)
  • Giovanni Evangelista Palotta (1589–1620)
  • Scipione Caffarelli-Borghese (1620–1633)
  • Francesco Barberini
    Francesco Barberini (seniore)
    Francesco Barberini was an Italian Catholic Cardinal. The nephew of Pope Urban VIII , he benefited immensely from the nepotism practiced by his uncle...

     (1633–1667)
  • Carlo Barberini
    Carlo Barberini
    thumb|Cardinal Carlo Barberini .Carlo Barberini was an Italian Catholic cardinal and member of the Barberini family. He was the grand-nephew of Maffeo Barberini and son of Taddeo Barberini .-Biography:Carlo Barberini was born 1 June 1630 in Rome...

     (1667–1704)
  • Francesco Nerli (1704–1708)
  • Annibale Albani
    Annibale Albani
    Annibale Albani was an Italian Cardinal.Albani was born in Urbino, to Albanian parents. A cousin of Pope Clement XI, he became Cardinal Bishop of Sabina ....

     (1712–1751)
  • Henry Benedict Stuart
    Henry Benedict Stuart
    Henry Benedict Stuart was a Roman Catholic Cardinal, as well as the fourth and final Jacobite heir to publicly claim the thrones of England, Scotland, and Ireland. Unlike his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, and brother, Charles Edward Stuart, Henry made no effort to seize the throne...

     (1751–1807)
  • Romualdo Braschi-Onesti (1807–1817)
  • Alessandro Mattei
    Alessandro Mattei
    Alessandro Mattei was an Italian Cardinal, and a significant figure in papal diplomacy of the Napoleonic period. He was from the Roman aristocratic House of Mattei.He became Archbishop of Ferrara in 1777, and was created cardinal in 1779....

     (1817–1820)
  • Pietro Francesco Galleffi
    Pietro Francesco Galleffi
    Pietro Francesco Galleffi was an Italian Cardinal.During the Napoleonic period, he was expelled from Rome, in 1798. He was created Cardinal in 1803. He was removed to France, in 1809....

     (6 May 1820 – 18 June 1837)
  • Giacomo Giustiniani
    Giacomo Giustiniani
    Giacomo Giustiniani was an Italian papal diplomat and Cardinal. Considered papabile in the Papal Conclave , his election was vetoed by Ferdinand VII of Spain....

     (1 July 1837 – 24 February 1843)
  • Mario Mattei
    Mario Mattei
    Mario Mattei was an Italian Cardinal, of the Roman noble House of Mattei. He became Dean of the College of Cardinals.-Personal life:Mattei was born on 6 September 1792 in Pergola....

     (11 March 1843 – 7 October 1870)
  • Niccola Clarelli Parracciani
    Niccola Clarelli Parracciani
    Niccola Clarelli Parracciani was a Catholic Cardinal and was Arch-Priest of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican....

     (8 October 1870 – 7 July 1872)
  • Edoardo Borromeo
    Edoardo Borromeo
    Edoardo Borromeo was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He was Maestro di Camera to Pius IX and was Cardinal-Deacon of Santi Vito, Modesto e Crescenzio from 1868 to 1878...

     (10 July 1872 – 30 November 1881)
  • Edward Henry Howard
    Edward Henry Howard
    Edward Henry Howard was an English Catholic priest and archbishop, who was made a cardinal in 1877.He was a relative of the Dukes of Norfolk.He was the son of Edward Charles Howard of Glossop, and received his primary education at Oscott...

     (12 December 1881 – 16 September 1892)
  • Francesco Ricci Paracciani (6 October 1892 – 9 March 1894)
  • Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro (21 March 1894& – 16 December 1913)
  • Rafael Merry del Val (12 January 1914 – 26 February 1930)
  • Federico Tedeschini
    Federico Tedeschini
    Federico Tedeschini was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church who served as Papal Datary in the Roman Curia from 1938 until his death, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1935 by Pope Pius XI.-Biography:...

     (14 March 1939 – 2 November 1959)
  • Paolo Marella
    Paolo Marella
    Paolo Marella was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served in the Roman Curia following a career as a delegate of the Holy See, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1959.-Biography:...

     (14 August 1961 – 8 February 1983)
  • Aurelio Sabattani
    Aurelio Sabattani
    Aurelio Sabattani JUD was an Italian Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura from 1967 until his death, and was elevated to the Cardinalate in 1983.-Education:...

     (8 February 1983 – 1 July 1991)
  • Virgilio Noè
    Virgilio Noè
    Virgilio Noè was an Italian Roman Catholic Cardinal.Born in 1922 in Zelata di Bereguardo, Lombardy. He studied at the Seminary of Pavia...

     (1 July 1991 – 24 April 2002)
  • Francesco Marchisano (24 April 2002 – 10 October 2006)
  • Angelo Comastri
    Angelo Comastri
    Angelo Comastri is an Italian clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the current President of the Fabric of Saint Peter, Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, and Vicar General for the Vatican City State. He previously served as Bishop of Massa Marittima-Piombino and Territorial Prelate of...

     (10 October 2006 – present)

Specifications

  • Cost of construction of the basilica = 46,800,052 ducats
  • Geographic orientation = chancel west, nave east
  • Capacity = 60,000 +
  • Total length = 730 feet (222.5 m)
  • Total width = 500 feet (152.4 m)
  • Interior length incl. vestibule = 693.8 feet (211.5 m), more than 1/8 mile.
  • Length of the transepts in interior = 451 feet (137.5 m)
  • Width of nave = 90.2 feet (27.5 m)
  • Width at the tribune = 78.7 feet (24 m)
  • Internal width at transepts = 451 feet (137.5 m)
  • Internal height of nave = 151.5 feet (46.2 m) high
  • Total area = 227070 ft2, more than 5 acres (20,234.3 m²).
  • Internal area = 163182.2 ft2
  • Height from pavement to top of cross = 452 feet (137.8 m)
  • Façade = 167 feet (50.9 m) high by 375 feet (114.3 m) wide
  • Vestibule = 232.9 feet (71 m) feet wide, 44.2 feet (13.5 m) deep, and 91.8 feet (28 m) high
  • The internal columns and pilasters = 92 feet (28 m) tall
  • The circumference of the central piers = 240 feet (73.2 m)
  • Outer diameter of dome = 137.7 feet (42 m)
  • The drum of the dome = 630 feet (192 m) in circumference and 65.6 feet (20 m) high, rising to 240 feet (73.2 m) from the ground
  • The lantern = 63 feet (19.2 m) high
  • The ball and cross = 8 and 16 ft (2.4 and 4.9 m), respectively
  • St. Peter's Square = 1115 feet (339.9 m) long, 787.3 feet (240 m) wide
  • Each arm of the colonnade = 306 feet (93.3 m) long, and 64 feet (19.5 m) high
  • The colonnades have 248 columns, 88 pilasters, and 140 statues
  • Obelisk = 83.6 feet (25.5 m). Total height with base and cross, 132 feet (40.2 m).
  • Weight of obelisk = 360.2 short ton

  • External links