Friday, October 14, 2011

The Basilica of St. Peter in Rome according to David Macchi

Here's an excerpt from my forthcoming super comprehensive guide book about Rome.
It will be called ROMAPEDIA.

The first edition was published in Italian as "Guida di Roma e provincia" in 2011 and the new enlarged edition is due to be released in 2014.
There will also be an edition in English available.
It is a work of synthesis and anthology of the most authoritative sources of facts and reliable information about the art of Rome and its Province.
It is an encyclopedic dictionary with 1,329 entries, including 483 churches, 278 palaces, and 152 museums.

It also includes a profusion of artistically or historically relevant buildings, monuments, archaeological sites as well as 95 towns in the province of Rome, constituting one of the richest sources of information available in a single book about the art and history of the Eternal City.

You can check out for free the first 63 pages of the first edition with this link:

My new ROMAPEDIA blog with the most complete encyclopedia about the art and history of Rome and its surroundings is being published. New entries are being added everyday. Here is the link:

Basilica of St. Peter
It was begun in the years 319/322, consecrated in the year 326 for the emperor Constantine (306/337) even if it was completed around the year 349
"The origin of the Vatican basilica is connected to the name of the Emperor Constantine. Though not documented, his role as founder of the building is historically probable, although recently it has been suggested that the patron was his son Constans. This does not in any way affect the basic idea: the link between the tomb of the apostle and the universal power of the Roman emperor of which the building was evidence. Its majesty was such to embody, on its own, the character of source for the legitimacy of a tradition" (Christof Thoenes)
The slope of the hill on which there was the tomb of St. Peter was leveled and walls were built for a massive substructure (the highest wall was 11.50 m - 37.8 feet) to have the exact location of the tomb to coincide with the altar of the Basilica
This enormous excavation of the side of the hill could be sufficient evidence to prove that the tomb of St. Peter is actually under the altar, as the architects of Constantine's Basilica could easily have built it on flat land close by
"The necropolis below the tomb of St. Peter and part of the area originally occupied by the circus were buried. This fact posed difficulties: the tombs were a 'locus religiosus', that is, subject to legal-sacral constraints, and could not safely be demolished or moved. Authorization for the operations could be given, however, by the emperor as supreme pontiff, i.e. the holder of the highest office in the pagan priesthood. In other words, Constantine was able to erect the most famous Christian basilica in Rome only because he was a pagan priest" (Paolo Liverani)
The old basilica was made up of a rectangular hall, about 90 x 60 m (295 x 197 feet), divided into five naves by four rows of twenty-two columns each
Bernardo Rossellino (1409/64) in 1452 began restructuring the Basilica for Niccolò V Parentucelli (1447/55), but at the beginning of the sixteenth century it was decided to destroy it, since, after 1,000 years, the foundations' work of Constantine's architects began to show signs of strain
Construction began on April 18, 1506 with the ceremony of laying the foundation stone during which twelve medals were laid in an earthenware bowl: on one side there was the portrait of Julius II and on the other the image of the Basilica designed by Donato Bramante
It was consecrated on November 18, 1626
Donato Bramante (1444/1514) for Julius II Della Rovere (1503/13) - 8 years 1506/14
"At the base of Bramante's first project is above all the will to express more fully the philosophical religiousity of humanism. Following the line that leads from Leon Battista Alberti, Giuliano da Sangallo, Leonardo, to himself, the architect from Urbino aims to achieve the organic unity of the building in full correspondence with the harmonic order of the universe, a mirror of divine perfection. The chosen theme, then, is the one beloved by the humanistic culture for its absolute value, the central plan, in which the suggestion of the monuments of classical Rome offers the grand and grandiloquent monumental scale" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) (1483/1520) with Fra' Giocondo and Giuliano Giamberti aka Giuliano da Sangallo (1445/1516) - 6 years 1514/20
Antonio Cordini aka Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546) with Baldassarre Peruzzi (1481/1536) until 1527 - 26 years 1520/46
"Sangallo had found a compromise solution between the central plan of Bramante and the longitudinal one of Raphael" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564) - 17 years 1547 /64
"Michelangelo, echoing the design of Bramante, shrinked the interior of the basilica in a simple and organic unity, which summarized the two geometric generators of the plant, the Greek cross and the square, centering the former on the latter. In addition, to give homogeneity on the outside, he conceived the wall structure with a single giant order using colossal Corinthian pilasters, surmounted by an attic which, running along the perimeter of the building, configured it as a compact mass" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
Jacopo Barozzi aka Vignola (1507/73) and Pirro Ligorio (about 1513/83) - 9 years 1564/73
Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) with Domenico Fontana (1543/1607) - 33 years 1573/1607 - Della Porta until 1602
Carlo Maderno (1556/1629) - 22 years 1607/29
"Carlo Maderno proved himself to be a capable and versatile designer, but his designs were devoid of a proper concept. The period of major projects, all, more or less, tragical failures, was over, and Maderno set out to finish the work on a line of compromise between ideal and reality. The unity of the church, in both historical and spatial sense, became the new theme. Maderno managed to connect the nave in a consistent manner with the central nave (only a trained eye notices the junction point), provided with the desired auxiliary spaces" (Christof Thoenes)
Carlo Maderno made a sensational design mistake: the extension of the Church is wrongly laid out and tends towards south. The architect noticed it during the work and tried to correct it but couldn't fix it completely. If you look at the front you can see that the obelisk, the central balcony and the central rib of the dome are not aligned. Inside the Basilica it is also possible to see that the marble slabs of the floor are not always perfectly aligned
Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598/1680) - about 50 years 1629/80
1657/67 Gian Lorenzo Bernini for Alexander VII Chigi (1655/67)
Ellipse 240 m wide (790 feet), 52 m (170 feet) more than the Colosseum
The oval area is 196 x 149 m (643 x 489 feet)
The capacity of the square is about 200,000 people
"Being the Church of St. Peter almost matrix of all the other churches, it must have a porch which precisely would show to receive maternally with open arms Catholics to confirm them in their belief, heretics to reunite them to the Church and unfaithful to illuminate them in the true faith" (Gian Lorenzo Bernini)
"The isolated columns of Bernini, with straight entablature are immensely sculptural elements. When one crosses the square the ever-changing view of the columns visible four at the time seems to reveal a forest of individual units: and the agreement of all of these massive forms clearly defined, produces the sensation of an irresistible mass and power. It is almost physically experienced as if every column would move and absorb a bit of the infinity of the space, and this impression is reinforced by glimpses of sky between the columns. No other period of post-Renaissance Italian shows an equally deep affinity with Greece. As with most new and vital ideas, after some heavy initial critical attacks, the columns became of the utmost importance for the history of architecture during more than 250 years" (Rudolf Wittkower)
3.10 m (10.1 feet) high
Over the colonnade:
1667/73 executed by many sculptors under the direction of Bernini:
Lazzaro Morelli (1608/90) to whom the majority of the statues are attributed including St. Mary of Egypt (24th from right, the first after the papal coat of arms, the patron of repentant prostitutes) and S. Catherine of Siena (24th from left, the first after the papal coat of arms, the patron saint of Italy and Europe)
Giovanni Maria De Rossi (about 1636/d. afterl 1670) to whom thirteen statues are attributed
Agostino Cornacchini (1683/1740) who sculpted St. Ursula, 9th from right, Filippo Carcani (active 1670/91), Andrea Baratta (again 1595/1666), Francesco Mari and others, many unknown
Only a few of the statues are attributable for sure
On the straight sections towards the church:
1702/03 Jean-Baptiste Théodon (1646/1713) who did S. Cecilia e S. Francesca Romana, 1st and 2° in the right section, Francesco Pincellotti (about 1672/1749), Simone Giorgini (active in Rome 1677/1712), Giovanni Maria Baratta (active since 1644/d. after 1679), Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736), Pietro Paolo Campi (noto 1702/40), Francesco Marchionni, Michel Maille aka Michele Maglia (active in Rome in the second half of the seventeenth century), Pierre-Étienne Monnot (1657/1733), Bernardino Cametti (1669/1736) and others
The statues on the straight sections, unlike those on the colonnade, are all safely attributable to Bernini's followers who were taking part of the Late Baroque period
"Six huge heraldic symbols" of Alexander VII
The colonnade was almost completed at the death of Alexander VII in 1667, missing only part of left section. His successor Clement IX had it finished hastily and did not want to apply the Chigi symbol on the ceiling inside, the lack of which still shows exactly the section completed after the death of Alexander VII
"A fine spatial sensitivity and a decade of experience about optical and dimensional problems guided the implementation of the square. The symbolic choice of arms for the majestic colonnades that Bernini himself compared to the maternal arms of the Church creates a spectacular urban situation: the open environment serves as a viable element of connection between the church and town" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
On the right "Statue of St Paul" 1838 by Canova's pupil Adamo Tadolini (1788/1868)
On the left "Statue of St. Peter" 1838 by Giuseppe De Fabris (1790/1860)
The two statues had been originally sculpted for the Basilica of St. Paul and placed here in 1847 instead of two statues of the same subject made in 1462 by Paolo Taccone aka Paolo Romano (about 1415/77) now in the Library of Sixtus IV
In the floor sundial with wind rose 1817 by the astronomer L. G. Gilij
The "Discs with symbols" were replaced in the years 1852, about 1878 and 1924
So they are not the work of Bernini as stated in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons, a great book, very well written and to which Romans should be grateful for having promoted substantial tourism in Rome, but that is often factually inaccurate, despite what Dan Brown states in the initial note
Originally built in 1490 for Innocent VIII Cybo (1484/92) and renovated in 1614 by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629)
1675 (61 years later), Carlo Fontana (1634/1714) under the direction of Bernini. The pipe was connected only in 1677
The central basins of the two fountains are made out of eastern granite
1852 Antonio Sarti (1797/1880) per Pius IX Mastai-Ferretti (1846/78) lit on October 12, 1854, the first with the new system of gas lighting
Beginning of sixteenth century Antonio da Sangallo the Younger. Modified by Bernini in the years 1663/66
"Along with his use of perspective knowledge, Bernini uses again natural light for aesthetic purposes. In this case, to break into the length similar to a tunnel of the stairway, and to alleviate the tendency of architecture to create a telescope effect" (Howard Hibbard)
25.36 m (83 feet) high, 41 m (134 feet) including the base and the cross
The weight is about 290 tonnes (320 tons)
It is the second highest among the eight original Egyptian obelisks in Rome, and the only one that has always been standing
According to Pliny the Elder, it was originally erected by the Pharaoh Nencoreo (Nebkaure Amenemhet II) son of Sesotide (1992/1985 BC) in Heliopolis in honor of the Sun as a thanksgiving for having regained his sight
It would have been broken in two during the assembling of the Forum Iulium in Alexandria, built in 40 AD by Cornelius Gallus prefect of Egypt under Augustus
The Vatican obelisk then would go back to about 4,000 years ago, although the fact that is without inscriptions suggests that it had been made in Egypt by the Romans
It was originally 52.50 m (172 feet) high
The upper part, the obelisk we have now, was transported to Rome by Caligula (37/41) with a huge ship in AD 37 using Egyptian lentils as ballast. The ship was later sunk by Claudius to found an artificial pier near Ostia
The obelisk was located in the middle of Caligula's private Circus (hippodrome) near Vatican Hill with a dedicatory inscription, still visible, to Caesar, Augustus and Tiberius
The "Four bronze lions" at the base are by Prospero Antichi aka Prospero Bresciano (active since 1580/d. after 1592) and his pupils
"Bronze eagles" 1713 Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736) for Innocent XIII Conti (1721/24)
It always stood erect on the left of the Basilica near the current sacristy where a plaque marks the exact spot on the floor
It was moved to the center of the square for Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) by Domenico Fontana (1543/1607) in 13 months from September 1585 to September 1586, an operation that earned him the title of Knight of the Spire. During the colossal work 40 giant winches, 907 men and 75 horses were employed
The four INSCRIPTIONS read as follows:
Sixtus V Pont(ifex) Max(imus) Cruci Invictae Obeliscum Vaticanum Ab Impura Superstitione Expiatum Iustius Et Felicius Consecravit Anno MDLXXXVI Pont(ificatus) II = Pope Sixtus V Pontifex Maximus consecrated the Vatican obelisk, purified from impure superstition, in a just and happy way to the invincible Cross, in the year 1586, second of (his) reign
Christus Vincit Christus Regnat Christus Imperat Christus Ab Omni Malo Plebem Suam Defendat = Christ wins, Christ reigns, Christ is emperor. Christ defends his people from harm
Ecce Crux Domini Fugite Partes Adversae Vicit Leo De Tribu Iuda = Behold the Cross of the Lord. Flee, enemy army. The winner is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah
Sixtus V Pont Max Obeliscum Vaticanum Di(i)s Gentium Impio Culto Dicatum Ad Apostolorum Limina Operoso Labore Transtulit Anno MDLXXXVI Pont II = Sixtus V Pontifex Maximus, the Vatican obelisk, (formerly) with wicked cult dedicated to the gods of the (pagan) people, moved with hard work in the headquarters of the Apostles in the year 1586, second of (his) reign
In the Middle Ages it was believed that in the ball on top of the obelisk there were the ashes of Julius Caesar
Sixtus V in 1586 replaced the ball with a new one (the old one is now in the Capitoline Museums still bearing the holes caused by the bullets of mercenaries during the sack of Rome in 1527) and added the cross and the three mountains of his coat of arms, as well as the lions
Now in the ball there are relics believed to be part of the cross of Jesus
186.30 m (610 feet). Including walls and porch it is 218.7 m (718 feet) long
114.69 m (376 feet) large and 47.3 m (155 feet), three feet higher than of the Statue of Liberty in New York without stand. Approximately similar dimensions to those of a football field (360 x 160 feet)
Inside diameter 42.56 m (139 feet); outside diameter 58.90 m (193 feet). Incredibly it is not the largest dome in Rome: the dome of the Pantheon is, with an internal diameter of 43.30 meters (142 feet)
Transept length
137.85 m (452 feet)
Internal height
From floor to lantern 117.57 m (386 feet), enough to fit in the Colosseum twice with twenty yards of surplus. The internal height of the four smaller domes is 42 m (138 feet)
External height
To the cross 136.57 m (448 feet)
Total area
22,067 m² (5.5 acres!)
Since 1989 it has become the second largest church in the world, surpassed in the Guinness Book of Records by the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix in Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire: it has a height of 158 m (518 feet) and a surface of 30,000 m² (7.4 acres) but not completely covered, resulting in a significantly lower internal capacity of 7,000 people
It is estimated that the Basilica can hold up to 55,000 people seated and up to 95,000 standing
The golden mosaic frieze with black letters is 3 m wide (10 feet) as a one-way street and 593 m long (1,950 feet)
St. Mark's pen on one of the pendentives of the dome is 1.50 meters (5 feet)
The wingspan of the dove in the Cathedra is 1.75 m (5.75 feet)
There are about 500 columns, 46 altars and 233 windows
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564) designed it and worked on it until his death in 1564. The work was only up to the floor of the drum
It was finished 24 years later by Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) assisted by Domenico Fontana (1543/1607) in 1588/90 in only 22 months, ending May 14, 1590 for Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90)
The estimated weight is 14,000 tonnes (15,400 tons)
"In designing it, Michelangelo has certainly thought of Brunelleschi's dome for S. Maria del Fiore in Florence, which, as Leon Battista Alberti said, was broad enough to cover with its shadow all the Tuscan people; Michelangelo's dome will be broad enough to cover all the Christian people. It is like a sprocket that bite into the free space of the sky. Above, the curve of the shell at the same time expresses the weight of its mass and its reviving and pushing upward with the tension and pressure of the ribs" (Giulio Carlo Argan)
The dome was completed with the ball and cross by Sebastiano Torrigiani (active since about 1573/d. 1596) on November 18, 1593
The BALL's diameter is 2.47 m (8.10 feet), it is empty inside and can fit up to 16 people
To reach the top there are 537 steps, but if one uses the elevator to the base of the dome the steps are 323
The TWO SMALLER DOMES are by Jacopo Barozzi aka Vignola, finished by Giacomo Della Porta
1607/14 Carlo Maderno (1556/1629), even though in the frieze there is the 1612 date
It is 114.69 m (376 feet) wide and 47.3 meters (155 feet) high
The two columns flanking the central entrance are made out of African marble and were also used in the ancient basilica. In the sixteenth they were considered symbols of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the pillars of the Church
The inscription on the façade translated from the Latin says: Paul V Roman Pontifex Maximus member of the Borghese family had (this façade) built in honor of the Prince of the Apostles in 1612, the seventh year of his pontificate
It is certainly interesting and not coincidental the fact that among all the words of the inscription, the one that takes the place of honor in the center, right above the balcony from which every newly elected pope appears, is "Borghese", the name of the family
Divided in three flights from the time of Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) who didn't hesitate to have the Colosseum plundered of some of its travertine marble to have the stairs built. It was restored by Bernini in 1667
"Jesus, St. John the Baptist and the Apostles except St. Peter and St. Paul" (they have their statues in the square) 1612/14 various artists under the direction of Ambrogio Buonvicino (about 1552/1622)
Different heights: from 5.50 m (18 feet) (St. James Major 5th on the right) to 7.50 m (24.6 feet) (Christ at the center)
From the left:
"St. Thaddeus" Carlo Fancelli, "St. Matthew" Bernardo Cennini, "St. Philip" and "St. Thomas" Siméon Drouin, "St. James Major" Egidio Moretti, "St. John the Baptist" Siméon Drouin
"Christ Redeemer" begun by Cristoforo Stati (1556/1619) and completed by Siméon Drouin
"St. Andrew" Carlo Fancelli, "St. John the Evangelist" Giovanni Antonio Paracca the Younger aka Valsoldino with Bernardo Cennini, "St. James the Less" begun by Cristoforo Stati and completed by Giuseppe Fontana, "St. Bartholomew" Egidio Moretti, "St. Simon" Bernardo Cennini and "St. Matthew" Giuseppe Fontana
"Christ handing the keysto St. Peter" 1612/14 by Ambrogio Buonvicino (about 1552/1622)
1786/90 Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839) with quadrants in mosaic: on the left "Oltremontano Clock" with the average European time, on the right "Italian Clock" with the Rome time
The diameter of the clocks is about 4 m (13 feet)
Located under the left clock
The largest, the campanone (big bell), rebuilt by Luigi Valadier (1726/85) (he committed suicide by jumping into the River Tiber due to malice and jealousy) and completed in 1786 by his son Giuseppe Valadier
The weight of the campanone is about 10 tons (11 tons) and the circumference is 7.5 m (24.6 feet)
1608/12 Carlo Maderno (1556/1629)
About 1655/75 by Bernini
The papal coat of arms in the floor are, on the left, of Clement X Altieri (1670/76) who was reigning when it was completed, on the right, of Leo XIII Pecci (1878/1903) who had it restored in 1888, and, at the center, of John XXIII Roncalli (1958/63) who had it restored again in 1962
On the right "Statue of Constantine" started 1654 completed 1670 by Bernini
In the niches statues made out of travertine"Church and three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity" 1728/38 Giuseppe Frascari, G.B. De Rossi, Giuseppe Lironi (1689/1749) and Bernardino Ludovisi (about 1713/49)
"The work was placed on the landing of the Royal Stairway, on the axis of the portico of St. Peter's Basilica. Bernini designed the high arch enclosing the equestrian statue and the monument itself, with its immense colored stucco drapery, as the focal point of the axis of the portico. The expediency of framing place us exactly in the right perspective. These framing devices are particularly significant, as you look through the demarcation of the dark bronze doors, into the brightly lit area of the landing" (Rudolf Wittkower)
On the left "Statue of Charlemagne" 1725 by Agostino Cornacchini (1683/1740) sculpted from a single block of Carrara marble. The curtain behind the statue is made out of yellow marble from Tunisia 
In the niches statues made out of travertine "Four cardinal virtues: Fortitude, Justice, Hope and Charity" 1721/31 Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736), G.B. De Rossi, Giuseppe Lironi (1689/1749) and Giuseppe Raffaelli
About 3,500 m² (38,000 square feet) and thirty-two square reliefs in stucco with "Acts of the Apostles" and thirty-one statues of "Popes martyrs" 1618/19 executed by a team of six plasterers from Ticino from cartoons by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624) of Novara
"As the elegant and rich stucco decorations were the only field in which the Roman manneristic style under Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85) and Sixtus V Peretti (1585/90) had shown real creativity and originality, Ricci drew here in a living and vigorous tradition, and created a work whose magnificence has always been praised" (Rudolf Wittkower)
1439/45 Bronze reliefs "Christ Pantocrator, Annunciation, Sts. Peter and Paul", "Martyrdom of St. Peter" and "Martyrdom of St. Paul" by Antonio Averlino aka Filarete (about 1400/about 1469) for Eugene IV Coldumer (1431/47) stories of whom are represented in the four smaller pads placed between the six panels
In a panel on the back of the door, at the bottom right, there is a representation of Filaret himself dancing, celebrating with his team of assistants, at the end of the works for the door
The door was also the main entrance of the old basilica
Marble relief "Jesus entrusts his Christian flock to St. Peter" 1646 Bernini and pupils
"Mosaic of the little boat" 1675 clumsy remake by Vincenzo Manenti of the original by Giotto (1267/1337) for Cardinal Jacopo Stefaneschi, of which only a few details (gold rim of the vessel, sail and some portraits of apostles) are original
It was originally located in the inner face of the quadrangle portico in front of the old basilica
To the right of the middle door "Door of the Sacraments" 1965 by Venanzo Crocetti (1913/2003), inaugurated by Pope Paul VI Montini (1963/78) for the reopening of Vatican II
Further on the right "Holy Door" Vico Consorti (1902/79) 1949 for the Jubilee of 1950
In the panels "Stories of the Old and New Testament" and, between the panels, coats of arms of the popes who have opened the door in the 26 Holy Years that have been celebrated so far
Donated by the Swiss bishop Francis Von Streng because Switzerland had been spared by World War II. The entrance was closed until 1950 by a wall
The jambs are made of marble from the Greek island of Chios. The use of this type of marble in such an important place did define it as portasanta marble (marble of the Holy Door)
On the left "Door of Good and Evil" 1975/77 Luciano Minguzzi (1911/2004) in celebration of the birthday of Paul VI
In the left door good is represented, in the right one there is evil
In the representation of evil there is an image of martyrs associated with a massacre of partisans in 1943 in Casalecchio sul Reno during World War II
Further on the left "Door of Death" 1947/58 Giacomo Manzù (1908/91), so named because through here used to pass the funeral procession with the bodies of popes
Pope John XXIII Roncalli (1958/63) from Bergamo like Manzù was elected in 1958 and immediately unblocked the work for the door which had found opposition among the cardinals. Manzù represented the pope in the inner side while welcoming Bishop Laurean Rugambwe, the first black cardinal ever whom he had appointed
Manzù signed his work on the back of the door, in the imprint of an open hand
In the pendentives of the doors "Cherubs" some of them done by Francesco Borromini
Embedded between the doors formerly in the old Basilica. From left:
"Donation of 56 olive trees" of Gregory II (715/731) for the oil lamps that were to be always lit around the tomb of St. Peter
"Epitaph of Hadrian I (772/795)" dedicated to the pope by Charlemagne on the occasion of his death. It is made out of black marble from Belgium
"Bolla Antiquorum habet fida relatio" with which Boniface VIII (1294/1303) convoked the first Jubilee of 1300
44 m (142 feet) high, decoration 1780 for Pius VI Braschi (1775/99) with his coat of arms in the middle
1649 by Bernini, renovated in the 1930s for Pius XI Ratti (1922/39), when some edges of the marble slabs were left blank in the center of the aisle to hide Carlo Maderno's designing mistake
In front of the main door "Rota porfiretica" in Egyptian porphyry, formerly located by the altar of the old Basilica, on which Charlemagne was crowned on Christmas Day of the year 800. It is the only one left of the six that were in the old Basilica
Marks on the floor corresponding to the LENGHTS OF 28 CHURCHES including:
(2) St. Paul's Cathedral in London (28.2 m - 92.5 feet - shorter than St. Peter's Basilica), (3) S. Maria del Fiore in Florence, (4) Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels, (5) Immaculate Conception Washington, (6), Reims Cathedral, (7) Cologne Cathedral, (8) Duomo in Milan, (9) Speyer Cathedral, (10) S. Petronio Basilica in Bologna, (11) Seville Cathedral, (12) Notre Dame in Paris, (13) St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome...
...(23°) St. Mary's Cathedral Sydney, (24°) São Paulo Cathedral in Brasil, (25) Westminster Abbey in London, (26) St. Sophia in Istanbul, (27) Cathedral of St. Cross in Boston, (28) Basilica of St. Maria Gdańsk, (29) St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York
Covered with stucco and colored marble in the years 1646/49 by Bernini with the help of 41 artists, including Andrea Bolgi (1606/56), Ercole Ferrata (1610/86), Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86), Orfeo Boselli (about 1600/67), Cosimo Fanzago (1591/1678), Lazzaro Morelli (1608/90) and others
The red and green colors and the doves with olive trees branches were chosen respectively as colors and heraldic symbols of Pope Innocent X Pamphili (1644/55)
The background in "Cottanello" red marble has natural grains that were arranged and organized by the artists to obtain a surface that, even if inspired from nature, shows creative artificial connotations
"Sixteen Virtues" 6 m (20 feet) high 1647/49 twelve of which designed by Bernini and executed by fourteen artists
The four virtues in the spandrels of the Gregorian and Clementine chapels had already been made in the years 1599/1600
On the right side:
"Fortitude" 1647 by Giovanni Francesco De Rossi (active 1640/77)
"Mercy" 1647 by Giovanni Francesco De Rossi with his father Domenico De Rossi
"Constancy" and "Clemency" 1647 by Giacomo Antonio Fancelli (1619/71) and his brother Cosimo Fancelli (1620/88). Giacomo Antonio also sculpted the statue of the Nile in the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona 
"Peace" 1647 by Lazzaro Morelli (1608/90)
"Innocence" 1647 by G.B. Morelli
"Faith" and "Charity" 1599 by Ruggero Bescapè (?/about 1600). He had also worked on the sculptures in the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza
On the left side:
"Fortitude" and "Justice" 1599/1600 by Ambrogio Buonvicino (about 1552/1622)
"Patience" 1647 by Domenico Prestinaro
"Humility" 1647 by Bartolomeo Cennini
"Obedience" and "Virginity" 1647/49 by Niccolò Menghini (about 1610/55)
"Divine Justice" and "Ecclesiastic Authority" 1647/48 by Andrea Bolgi (1606/56)
These two virtues by Bolgi disappointed Innocent X Pamphilj (1644/55) and in 1649 he had them modified by Marco Antonio Inverno
1714/18 "Twelve allegorical figures" by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736)
It began in 1578 with the Gregorian Chapel and continued until early 1800 under the successive directions of Girolamo Muziano (1532/92), Paolo Rossetti (?/1621), Marcello Provenzale (1575/1639), G.B. Calandra, Fabio Cristofari (about 1615/89) and Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) who in 1727 founded the institution known as Studio del mosaico al Vaticano (Academy of Vatican Mosaic) still operating today
The total area of the mosaics in the Basilica is about 10,000 m² (2.5 acres)
Completed at the time of Pius IX Mastai-Ferretti (1846/78) with excerpts from the Gospel
It is 3 m (10 feet) wide as a one-way street and 593 m (1,950 feet) long
In the apse the writing is also written in Greek to symbolize continuity with the past, being Greek the language of the first Christian communities: O Shepherd of the Church you graze the lambs, you pasture the sheep of Christ
In the dome: You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 16:18-19
Central nave, left end side: I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers, Luke 22:32
Central nave, right end side: Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven, Matthew 16:19
Right transept: Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him: Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven, Matthew 16: 16-17
Left transept: He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you, John 21:17
Inner sides of the pylons: From here one faith shines in the world, hence the unity of the priesthood flows
Two clocks 1787/90 Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839):
On the left French or ultramontano (from north of the Alps) clock, counting hours from midnight
On the right Italian clock counting hours after sunset with four complete revolutions of the hand per day. It was a bizarre system of measuring time used in Rome until 1846
1722/25 designed by Agostino Cornacchini (1683/1740) with enormous cherubs sculpted by Francesco Moderati (about 1680/after 1724) on the left e G.B. De Rossi on the right
Founders of religious orders:
1st right "St. Teresa of Ávila" 1754 by Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768)
2nd right "S. Vincenzo de' Paoli" 1754 by Pietro Bracci (1700/73)
3rd right "St. Philip Neri" 1737 by G.B. Maini (1690/1752)
"Statue of St. Peter" about 1296/98 by Arnolfo di Cambio (about 1245/1302) or his workshop
Marble throne made in 1757. Two bronze "Torches with stories of Sts. Peter and Paul" 1972 by Egidio Giaroli (1912/2000). Mosaic medallion with "Pius IX Mastai-Ferretti (1846/78)" by Giovanni Ubizi from the original painting by Francesco Grandi (1831/91)
4th left "S. Francesco di Paola" 1732 by G.B. Maini
3rd left "St. Ignatius" 1733 by Camillo Rusconi (1658/1728) finished by his pupil Giuseppe Rusconi (1688/1758) who had the same last name as Camillo's but wasn't one of his relatives
2nd left "St. Camillus" 1753 by Pietro Pacilli (1716/after 1769)
1st left "St. Peter of Alcantara" 1753 by Francisco Vergara y Bartual the Younger (1681/1753)
Founders of religious orders and congregations:
1st right "S. Madeleine Sophie Barat" 1934 by Enrico Quattrini (1863/1950)
2nd right "S. Giovanni Eudes" 1932 by Silvio Silva (1890/1955)
3rd right "S. G.B. de la Salle" 1904 by Cesare Aureli (1843/1923)
4th right "S. Giovanni Bosco" 1936 by Pietro Canonica (1869/1959)
4th left "S. Pietro Fourier" 1899 by the Studio Nicoli of Carrara
3rd left "S. Antonio Maria Zaccaria" 1909 by Cesare Aureli
2nd left "S. Louis-Marie Grignon de Montort" by 1948 Giacomo Parisini
1st left "S. Lucia Filippini" 1949 by Silvio Silva
In the NICHES OUTSIDE THE BASILICA from 1999 until 2011 eighteen new statues of founders of religious orders and congregations were placed under John Paul II (1978/2005) and Benedict XVI (2005/13)
"In the inner dome the repetition of the pairs of flat pilasters suggests a rotational movement of the drum, centrifugal, which gives the cavity of the shell the continuity of a permanent move around the central perspective of the lantern-light. It is precisely, but projected in height, the same spatial idea that is expressed most dramatically in the Final Judgement in the Sistine Chapel; but, eventually, the play is closer to completion, the final catharsis. The dome is the catharsis of the tragedy for the never finished work, the tomb of Julius II. It rises in the same site, the symbolic monument of the Christian ecumene" (Giulio Carlo Argan)
Mosaics of the Evangelists "St. Mark" and "St. Matthew" 1599 by Cesare Nebbia (1536/1614) and "St. John" and "St. Luke" 1599 by Giovanni De Vecchi (about 1537/1615)
"Angels" in the upper triangles 1600 by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)
Evangelists and angels were made in the years 1599/1601 by mosaicists Paolo Rossetti (?/1621), Lodovico Martinelli and Marcello Provenzale (1575/1639)
The feathers of the Evangelists are 1.50 m (5 feet) long
Mosaics with "Angels" 1603/13 designed by Giuseppe Cesari aka Cavalier d'Arpino (1568/1640) and executed by a host of mosaicists directed by Marcello Provenzale (1575/1639)
Beginning from the upper part "Seraphims" in stucco with golden heads, each surrounded by six white wings, "Cherubs" in mosaic with golden heads, each surrounded by six wings alternately white and blue, "Christ", "St. John the Baptist", "Virgin Mary", "St. Paul and the Apostles". In the lunettes in the lower part "Patriarchs and Bishops"
"God the Father" in the top executed in mosaic in the years 1603/04 by Ranuccio Sempervivo. The height of the lantern is, incredibly, no less than 18 meters (59 feet)
71 m (233 feet) of perimeter
They were built by Bramante, completed by Michelangelo and equipped by Bernini in the years 1928/39 to host the most important relics of Christendom
In the niches at the base of the piers 5 m (16.4 feet) high: 
"St. Longinus" 1635/38 by Bernini
"After S. Bibiana, the Longinus is the next crucial step in the conquest of the body through the drape dramatically conceived. Three rounds of pleats radiating out from a knot under his left arm toward the large vertical cascade of drapery leads the eye towards the marble image of the sacred spear. So the body of Longinus is almost suppressed under the weight of the coat that seems to follow its own laws. He is represented in the exciting, dramatic climax of Conversion while watching the cross and saying: this really was the son of God!" (Rudolf Wittkower)
"He expressed the immediacy required by S. Ignatius in his Spiritual Exercises (...) with an empathy that for the first time identified the personal religious aspirations of a Catholic with a spiritual hero of early Christianity. Longinus only is the first of a succession of great sinners whose lives were illuminated by the revelation of the divinity of Christ" (Howard Hibbard)
"St. Helena" 1629/39 by Andrea Bolgi (1606/56)
"The style of Bolgi shows considerable affinity with the work of Bernini in this period. The St. Helena is in fact so close to the Countess Matilda of Bernini, that the latter was often attributed to Bolgi. During the thirties Bernini himself made concessions to the classical ideals supported by the circle Poussin-Sacchi. It is therefore understandable that then he considered Bolgi as one of his most trusted assistants" (Rudolf Wittkower)
"St. Veronica" 1629/39 by Francesco Mochi (1580/1654) who carried it out slowly, as he used to say, "to seal my old age with a memorable work"
"The works of the Tuscan sculptor aroused no little surprise among his contemporaries and he was worthy of consideration by the young Bernini. A pupil of Santi di Tito, Mochi revealed new stylistic components of intense dynamics" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"The St. Veronica, his most spectacular job, seems to fall out of the niche driven by an uncontrollable pathos, revealing a particular vehemence and nervous tension. A stranger in the changed climate of Rome, Mochi was passed by the genius of Bernini and disappointed, he protested in vain against the tide of the dominant taste" (Rudolf Wittkower)
Bernini had made changes to the piers opening the four niches and digging staircases that were said to have opened cracks. So Mochi had the upper hand in responding to criticism of Bernini, who complained for the excessive fluttering of the drapery of his Veronica: "You should blame the drafts that come through your cracks, master". Perhaps it was a coincidence, but, since then, Mochi was sidelined
"St. Andrew" 1629/39 by François Duquesnoy (1597/1643)
"Duquesnoy, Sacchi, Poussin and Algardi defended not a direct continuation of Bolognese classicism, but a revised version, influenced by the great masters up to a certain extent (...). Compared with the classicism of the early Baroque, the new classicism was at first rather violent and picturesque, has features of its own and it is this style that can rightly be called baroque classicism" (Rudolf Wittkower)
1633/41 Bernini with various collaborators including Guidobaldo Abbatini (1600/56) who drew cartoons and painted the finishing touches, Carlo Pellegrini (1605/49), Matteo Bonarelli (husband of Constance, Bernini's lover), Stefano Speranza, Niccolò Menghini (about 1610/55), Luigi Bernini (1612/81) and Domenico De Rossi
"Eight spiral columns" of Parian marble (from the Greek island of Paros) from the old Basilica marvelously echoed by the similar, gigantic black columns of Bernini's baldachin
They belonged to the group of twelve columns supporting the pergula in the confession of the old St. Peter's Basilica: six were donated by Constantine and the other six were donated by the esarca (governor) Eutichius of Ravenna to Gregory III (731/741)
It was believed they came from the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem
There are two more in the Chapel of the Sacrament, another in the Museum of the Basilica while the twelfth has disappeared
The Head of St. Andrew, St. Peter's brother, was donated in 1966 by Paul VI Montini (1963/78) to the city of Patras, where St. Andrew died
The Spear was given to Pope Innocent VIII Cibo (1484/92) by Bajazet the son of Sultan Mehmed II
The Holy Face is the most venerated relic and is regarded throughout the West as the most important image of Christ. It is also known as Vera Ikon - true icon - hence the new name of Veronica whose real name was Berenike. It dates back to the eighth century for sure
The Wood of the Cross and the nails of the Crucifixion were brought to Rome by St. Helena. After the donation of several pieces to various churches, the relic was reconstituted by Urban VIII with other fragments kept in the Roman churches S. Anastasia and S. Croce in Gerusalemme
During the construction of the new Basilica the relics were placed in a chapel inside the piers of Veronica and the remaining three are still there. They are shown from the balcony of Veronica during the Holy Week
1624/36 (it was inaugurated unfinished in 1633) first Bernini's major work at the age of twenty-six for Urban VIII Barberini (1623/44)
29 m (95 feet) high. The weight is 93 tonnes (102 tons)
He chose the image of the mobile canopy used in processions, also known as baldaquin, as a fossilized bronze ciborium
He was helped by: François Duquesnoy, Stefano Maderno (1560/1636), Giacomo Antonio Fancelli (1619/71), Giuliano Finelli (1602/53) and Francesco Borromini (1599/1667) who maybe designed also the top decorations shaped as volutes like the backs of dolphins
"I still believe that Borromini had an important creative role in the pattern of those volutes: those elements shaped as backs of dolphins with an undoubted derivation of Lombardy, which the architect repeated in many of his later works, do not ever reappear in the Bernini repertoire. (...) Also the quadriconcave crowning, which supports the cross, has its first appearance here. It is a pattern we will meet in Rome later in the lanterns of S. Carlino and S. Ivo" (Paolo Portoghesi)
He was also helped by Andrea Bolgi (1606/56) who made the four angels on the roof, Pietro Bernini (1562/1629), his father and Luigi Bernini (1612/81), his brother
"The canopy held a threefold function of mediation: aesthetic, as it was an intermediate key between the celebrant and the immensity of the surrounding space; historical, as it recalled the arrangement of the tomb at the time of Constantine; iconographic, as it crowned the tomb of Peter with the cross of Christ (in the original version with the figure of the risen Christ), linking it to the Christocentric-eschatological theme of the mosaics of the dome. The whole entire central space became a place of resurrection and the 'pathos' of Bramante's architecture, absolute in the first place, was put at the service of a specific theological message" (Christof Thoenes)
The bronze used was taken from the ribs of the dome, from Venice and from Livorno. When it became apparent that the bronze was not yet sufficient Urban VIII authorized the fusion of the ancient bronze taken from the ceiling of the pronaos of the Pantheon
The bronze in excess at that point was used to make eighty cannons for Castel Sant'Angelo
The fact that he used part of the 200 tonnes of bronze (220 tons) of the Pantheon caused the famous lampoon "In Rome, whatever the barbarians didn't do, the Barberini did"
Pure gold was used for the gilding. A small gold fragment would be beaten with a hammer between two sheets of fine leather in sheets of about 4 thousandths of a millimeter and applied to selected surfaces
The Barberini coat of arms in the plinths of the four columns represent a hidden sequence of the birth of a baby with a young woman's face relaxed first, then contract and finally replaced by the face of a child. It seems that this is due to the vow made by Urban VIII to build the canopy if his beloved nephew, who was likely to die during childbirth, had given birth successfully
"It was a brilliant idea to repeat in the giant columns of the Baldaquin, the shape of the spiral ancient columns now in the aediculae on the balconies of the pillars. So the spiral bronze columns get a fourfold echo and not only give proof of the continuity of tradition, but with their gigantic size also symbolically express the change from the simplicity of the early Christian church to the glory of the Counter-Reformation, with the implied victory of Christianity over pagan world. Their measures are carefully proportioned into the architecture of the church, but instead of creating a dangerous rivalry, they provide a dramatic contrast with the straight fluted white pillars as well as with other structural elements of the building in white marble" (Rudolf Wittkower)
During the construction a sarcophagus was found with the statue of a gentile on the lid, "Flavius ​Agricola from Tivoli" about 160 AD, which was placed at first in Palazzo Barberini and now is exposed in the Indianapolis Museum of Arts in the USA
"The canon of St. Peter Ugo Ubaldi didn't even mention the 'scandalous' epitaph of Flavius ​​Agricola who's urging his friends to indulge in the pleasures of an Epicurean life; verses that were 'hidden and silenced for severe penalties and rigorous excommunication', and 'orribilissime' threats and 'menaces of the pope to whoever dared to speak​​ of these verses'. Of course it must have been difficult to justify the embarrassing and dangerous contiguity between the pagan libertine and the mortal remains of Peter. It was as if a curious oxymoron had materialized that would see the foundations of the canopy undermine the very foundations of the Christian World" (Maria Grazia D'Amelio -Tra ossa, polveri e ceneri: il 'fuoriasse' del baldacchino di S. Pietro a Roma - Annali di Architettura - )
1594 for Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605) with upper part in Parian marble and sides in pavonazzetto marble, all taken from the Temple of Minerva in the Forum of Nerva
Only the Pope can celebrate Mass on this altar
1615/18 Carlo Maderno (1556/1629)
89 flames in gilded bronze cornucopias by Mattia De Rossi (1637/95)
In the Niche of the Pallii liturgical insignia of honor made of bands of white wool 4/6 cm - 1.5/2 inches - wide with six black silk crosses
Mosaic "Christ blessing" from the time of Leo IV (847/855)
Three frescoes under the arch with "Stories of the tomb and the Basilica" 1615 by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624). They are the only paintings in the entire Church with those in the Chapel of Holy Sacrament and in the Pietà Chapel
Eight rooms about 110 sqm (1,184 square feet) each, obtained in the four huge piers of the dome at a level of about 24 m (79 feet) above the floor. They are not open to the public
TWO OCTAGONAL ROOMS OF OUR LADY OF THE PILLAR (Octagon of the Cripple and Octagon of Simon Magus)
Historical documents of the General Fabric of St. Peter with about 2,000 m (6,560 feet) of shelving, including papers signed by Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo, Bernini, Vanvitelli and Valadier
"Reliefs from the old Ciborium in St. Peter's Basilica" 1471/78 maybe by a Florentine Master close to Antonio Rossellino or Roman Master close to Mino da Fiesole or Paolo Taccone aka Paolo Romano for the Cardinal G.B. Mellini
Paintings by Ugo da Carpi (about 1480/1532), Giacomo Zoboli (1681/1767), Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746), Agostino Ciampelli (1565/1630)
Storage rooms for materials related to the liturgical needs of the basilica
Octagon of S. Basil
"Marble reliefs of the funerary monument of Pope Paul II Barbo (1464/71) 1475/77 by Mino da Fiesole (1429/84) and Giovanni Duknovich aka Giovanni Dalmata (about 1440/1510)
The monument was originally located in the ancient basilica and it had a height of about 11 m (36 feet)
"Wooden model of the dome of St. Peter" on a 1:15 scale executed by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475/1564) and restored by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700 /73)
Octagon of S. Jerome
"Model of the Basilica of St. Peter" 1539/46 according to the design of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger on a 1:29 scale. It can be opened and it is accessible inside
"Models of plaster statues" by Antonio Canova (1757/1822) and Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770/1844)
TWO OCTAGONAL ROOMS OF THE CLEMENTINE CHAPEL (Octagon of the Transfiguration and Octagon of the Lie)
"Wooden models for the construction of the Sacristy of 1715" including those of Filippo Juvarra and Nicola Michetti
Altarpiece painted in oil on blackboard "Fall of Simon Magus" 1603 by Francesco Vanni (about 1563/1610 )
In 1727 many altarpieces were replaced with mosaics
Above the Holy Door, mosaic "St. Peter" 1675 maybe by Ciro Ferri (1634/89) or G.B. Ricci
Mosaic with "Apocalyptic scene of angels marking the foreheads of the chosen ones with the sign of the living God" designed in 1668 by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669) and by his pupil Ciro Ferri (1634/89) who completed the work from 1669 to 1671, after the death of his teacher
In the SPANDRELS mosaics with important personalities of the Ancient Testament:
"Noah with the ark"
"Sacrifice of Isaac"
"Moses with the tablets of the Law"
"Prophet Jeremiah"
1669/71 by Ciro Ferri executed as mosaic in the years 1680/81 by Fabio Cristofari (about 1615/89)
In the LUNETTES mosaics with sibyls and minor prophets who had prophesied the Passion:
"Phrygian Sibyl"
"Cumaean Sibyl" 
"Prophet Amos"
"Prophet Zechariah"
"Prophet Hosea"
"Prophet Isaiah"
1669/71 by Ciro Ferri executed as mosaics in the years 1677/79 by Fabio Cristofari
In the DRUM plaster statues "Four angels with symbols of the Passion" 1712 by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736)
Famous "Pietà" August 1498/August 1499 by Michelangelo Buonarroti when he was twenty-three years old for Cardinal Jean de Bilhères de Lagraulas ambassador for Charles VIII King of France
The pedestal of the statue was designed by Francesco Borromini (1599/1667)
It is regarded as the most significant and most beautiful statue in the whole world
It was placed here in 1749. It was previously located in the Choir Chapel
It was the subject of an attack in 1972 by the deranged Austro-Hungarian Laszlo Toth: shouting "I am Jesus Christ born again from the dead" he hammered the statue fifteen times before being stopped. He was hospitalized for two years in Italy and, after being released, he went to Australia where he still lives
During the restoration a letter M was discovered drawn in the lines in the palm of the right hand of the Virgin
Michelangelo had heard unrecognized some admirers in front of the "Pieta" doubting that he had done it because he was too young. They were attributing it more plausibly to some Milanese sculptor. He then entered at night in the Basilica and engraved on the Madonna's dress band Michael Angelus Bonarotus Florent Faciebat: Michelangelo Buonarroti from Florence did this. It is the only work that he ever signed in his life
"The Virgin holds in her lap the dead Christ, as if it were a sleeping child, and young as when Christ was a child. Perhaps the statue is to be just that: a vision or, rather, the anticipation or foreshadowing that the Virgin has of the Passion of her Son. The vision of the future is tied up right away with regret: the demonstrative gesture of the hand of the Madonna said that the prediction has unfortunately come true. It is a period of time from past to future that excludes the present time, the reality of the event. The composition is enclosed in a pyramid, as if to indicate that everything is part of a divine idea that transcends pain and human compassion" (Giulio Carlo Argan)
"Michelangelo deliberately accentuated the youth of the Virgin Mary departing markedly from the usual figurative tradition that wanted Mary represented in old age. So she comes to embody the symbol of eternal life. Our Lady, Virgin and Mother at the same time, preserves the immaculate youth of her face, while slightly showing anyway, in her deep silence, all the pain for the death of her Son, who is gently resting on her lap, almost weightless. The figure of Christ does not have the rigidity of a corpse and doesn't show signs of wounds, as he was normally realistically represented: he is the perfect humanity of the God-Man, not deformed by death and not disfigured by suffered tortures" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
"It is related to a type of representation derived from popular religion and late medieval mysticism, and widespread since the fourteenth century, particularly in northern Europe, under the name Vesperbild. The depiction of the Pietà was particularly likely to draw a visual connection between the incarnation of Christ, his coming as man, and the Eucharistic sacrifice, his sacrifice. In fact, the medieval theology linked the Madonna both to the birth of the Savior and to the altar on which the sacrifice of Christ was simbolically repeated during mass. The body of Christ depicted lying in his mother's lap was equivalent to the Host that the priest raised during the Eucharist" (Frank Zöllner)
"It is his most carefully finished work. He must have spent endless time sanding with abrasives, until the figure of Christ reached a polishness almost shiny, glazed. You will not find drill holes, but studying the head of Christ one cannot ignore the fact that the hair has been worked extensively with the drill" (Rudolf Wittkower)
In the center of the vault "Triumph of the Cross" and on the sides "Scenes from the Passion" frescoes by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647): they are the only paintings in the whole church together with those in the Chapel of Holy Sacrament and in the Confession
On the left "Monument to Queen Christina of Sweden (1626/89)" 1691/1702 Carlo Fontana (1634/1714) with bas-relief "Christina of Sweden abjuring Protestantism in Innsbruck on the year 1655" by Jean-Baptiste Théodon (1646/1713) and "Angels" by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736)
The Queen was buried in the Crypt of the Basilica
She became Queen of Sweden in 1632 when she was 6 years old, lived in a nonconformist way, refused to marry and secretly converted to Catholicism. In 1654 she abdicated in favor of her cousin and went to Rome where she lived until her death in 1689. She has become one of the most famous gay icons
On the right "Statue of Leo XII Sermattei (1823/29)" with allegories above the niche of "Religion" on the left and "Justice" on the right 1836 by Giuseppe De Fabris (1790/1860)
Leo XII is actually buried in the Chapel of our Lady of the Pillar
"In 1825 Leo XIII had celebrated the Jubilee of 1825 and the event is commemorated in the monument with the pope, standing and blessing, surrounded, in a neo-medieval quote, consisting in representing the cardinals Cappellari (the future Pope Gregory XVI), Pacca, Odescalchi and Zurla out of scale" (Roberto Cassanelli)
CHAPEL OF THE RELICS (Under the statue of Leo XII)
It was originally a warehouse and it was transformed into a chapel approximately in the years 1664/71 by Bernini
Decorated in about 1750 by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) and restored in 1887 by Andrea Busiri Vici (1818/1911)
Over the main altar "Wooden crucifix" maybe by Pietro de' Cerroni aka Pietro Cavallini (about 1240/1325) formerly in the first chapel on the right and moved here in 1749 when it had to make room for the "Pietà" by Michelangelo
Altar on the left with altarpiece in mosaic "St. Nicholas" in 1680 by Fabio Cristofari (about 1615/89)
Altar on the right with altarpiece in mosaic "St. Joseph with the Child Jesus"1892 from a painting by Francesco Grandi (1831/91)
Six large eighteenth century closets to preserve the relics
At the center of the chapel there is a tiny lift installed during the pontificate of Pius XI Ratti (1922/39) which connects the Basilica with the Apostolic Palace
Mosaic with "Apocalyptic scene with a host of martyrs proceeding with the palms of martyrdom toward the eternal God enthroned near the Lamb" designed in the years 1652/62 by Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona (1597/1669) and by his pupil Ciro Ferri
"Here Pietro da Cortona, assisted by Ciro Ferri, shows a significant display of Baroque decoration, where the dynamism and the pictorial agility of his inventions are enhanced by its compositional and perspective ability" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
In the SPANDRELS mosaics with:
"Abel offering a lamb in sacrifice"
"Prophet Isaiah with a saw, instrument of martyrdom"
"Prophet Ezekiel (or Jeremiah)"
"Prophet Zechariah"
In the LUNETTES mosaics with martyrs of the Old Testament:
"Martyrdom of the seven Maccabee brothers and their mother"
"Mattathias kills the apostate Jew"
"Angel bears the palm of martyrdom over the bodies of the two Jewish mothers and their children"
"Old Eleazar sentenced to death by Antiochus because he refused to eat the forbidden meat"
"Daniel in the lions' den"
"The three children Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego condemned by Nebuchadnezzar to burn alive in the furnace of Babylon"
1652/62 by Pietro da Cortona and 1659/63 by Raffaele Vanni (1587/1673) executed as mosaics in the years 1654/60 by Matteo Piccioni, Guidobaldo Abbatini (1600/56), Fabio Cristofari (about 1615/89) and Orazio Manenti
In the DRUM plaster statues "Angels with symbols of martyrdom" 1713 by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736 )
Mosaic "Death of St. Sebastian" from the original made in 1614 by Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641) in the Pinacoteca Vaticana
"The contrast between life and death plays a formidable role in baroque iconography, and one of the most innovative features of the period is that we can describe as "happy death" - ie, a scene in which the dying agony of the human and the grief of the survivors are mixed with a feeling of supreme liberation" (Erwin Panofsky)
Under the altar until May 2011 there was the body of Innocent XI Odescalchi (1676/89) whose monument is in fact in the left nave
Since May 2011 the body of Innocent XI was moved to the Cappella Clementina and the "Tomb of John Paul II" Wojtyla (1978/2005) was placed here
On the right "Monument of Pius XI Ratti (1922/39)" by Francesco Nagni (1897/1977)
The book that he holds open with one hand is a quote for the attention shown by Pius XI for the Ambrosian and the Vatican Libraries
The statue replaced the earlier monument made in 1949 by Pietro Canonica (1869/1959) that had not been very much appreciated and was therefore moved to the Lateran Palace
Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty between the Italian State and the Church in 1929 but he opposed many aspects of fascism. He condemned the nazi ideology and he wrote the encyclical "With deep concern" in German. When Hitler visited Rome, he went to Castel Gandolfo, ordered to close the Vatican Museums and to turn off all the lights of the Vatican
On the left "Monument of Pius XII Pacelli (1939/58)" 1961/64 by Francesco Messina (1900/95)
Messina represented the pope with the miter, the headdress of bishops, rather than the tiara, the headgear of the popes, to emphasize the important and dramatic role as bishop of Rome that Pius XII had during the tragic World War II
Pius XII was a controversial figure, criticized for his more moderate reaction to nazism compared to his predecessor Pius XI
"Continuing his search for natural shapes modeled in a solid and vibrant way, he executed the monumental marble statue of St. Catherine of Siena in the gardens of Lungotevere Castello and for the Basilica of St. Peter he conceived the Monument to Pope Pius XII: a large sculpture designed to fully represent, in the verticality of the volumes and in the vitality and color of the surface, the ecclesiastical stature of the blessing pope" (Rosanna Ruscio - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
On the right "Tomb of Innocent XII" Pignatelli (1691/1700) designed by Ferdinando Fuga (1699/1782)
Sculptures "Pope" between "Charity" and "Justice" 1746 by Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768)
"During 1600 the political influence of the pope had been gradually fading and this is reflected in papal monuments of the period. Already the Clement IX in Santa Maria Maggiore by Domenico Guidi - 1675 - and the Clement X in St. Peter's Basilica by Ercole Ferrata - about 1685 - had shown a considerably weakened gesture of blessing and a decrease in volume. This trend continued until Filippo Della Valle made of his Innocent XII a frail old man rather than the symbolic leader of Christendom" (Rudolf Wittkower)
"The entire composition is a little gem for the use of ancient and rare marbles (antique yellow, antique green, breccia of Skyros or Settebassi). The two allegories, despite the still classic setting, come alive and are complemented by an all rococo spirit, also thanks to the presence of the lively and lovely cherubs. The female characters do not have the natural details that are found in the works of Bernini, but remain idealized figures, built with elegant pictorial softness, yet with a solid structure" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
On the left "Monument to the Countess Matilda of Canossa" 1634/37 by Bernini
Cherubs holding scrolls on the sarcophagus: on the right by Luigi Bernini (1612/81), Gian Lorenzo's brother, on the left by Andrea Bolgi (1606/56) also responsible for the scroll
Relief on the sarcophagus "Pardon granted by Pope Gregory VII (1073/85) to Emperor Henry IV at Canossa in 1077, in the presence of the Countess Matilda, his son Amadeo and Abbot Hugh of Cluny" 1634/36 by Stefano Speranza
Putti at the top of the arch and coat of arms by Matteo Bonarelli (husband of Constance, lover of Bernini), Andrea Bolgi and Lorenzo Flori
Matilda was born in 1046 and when she was 30 years old she was ruling over an area extending from Lake Garda in Northern Italy to the Lazio region north of Rome. She supported Pope Gregory VII in the investiture controversy against the German Emperor Henry IV
"The decorating project was originally entrusted, in 1640, to Niccolò Tornioli. In 1562 the Congregazione della Reverenda Fabbrica (Congregation of the Reverend Factory) decided to give the job to Pietro da Cortona. (...) The dominant iconographic theme is the mystery of the Eucharist, a voluntary underscore of a subject at that time disputed by Protestants and illustrated with great scenes that echo the religious struggles" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
In the SPANDRELS mosaics with personalities who have preached the Eucharistic sacrifice:
"Melchizedek, king of Salem, offers the bread"
"Elijah fed by an Angel"
"A priest distributes the ceremonial bread"
"Aaron fills a jar with manna"
1653/63 by Ciro Ferri (1634/89), Matteo Piccioni, Guidobaldo Abbatini (1600/56), Fabio Cristofari (about 1615/89) and Orazio Manenti
In the LUNETTES mosaics with episodes of punishment for those who eats unworthily of the Eucharist:
"High Priest offering the first fruits of corn"
"Two of the twelve scouts sent by Moses in the land of Canaan returning with a bunch of grapes"
"Uzzah dies because he had touched the Ark unworthily"
"A seraph purifies Isaiah's lips with a live coal"
"Jonathan, Saul's son, is nourished with a honeycomb"
"The idol of Dagon destroyed by the Ark of God"
1659/63 by Raffaele Vanni ( 1587/1673 ) executed as mosaics by Orazio Manenti
In the DRUM four statues in stucco "Angels with Eucharistic symbols" in 1713 by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736)
Bronze gate 1629/30 by Francesco Borromini who also designed the two marble portals in the end wall of the chapel
Fourteen bas-reliefs in stucco on the ceiling and seven on the walls with "Stories of the Old and New Testaments" 1623/27 by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624)
Altar and "Ciborium" in gilt bronze and lapis lazuli 1674 by Bernini: it had been commissioned almost fifty years before by Urban VIII
"Colored marble, gilded bronze and lapis lazuli are combined in a framework of sublime beauty that symbolically expresses the intangible perfection of the angelic world and the glory of God. With his revolutionary way of treating color and light, Bernini started a development that would have immense consequences" (Rudolf Wittkower)
"Baroque version of a familiar theme, it seems likely that his source of inspiration was a relief, perhaps by Andrea Sansovino in S. Croce in Gerusalemme, which he surely knew (...). The weeping and human worship of angels in contrast with the timeless architecture of the building is typical of the late style of Bernini. In his later years he seems to have found in the inexorable laws of architecture a touching contrast to our human transitional state" (Howard Hibbard)
Altarpiece oil on canvas "Trinity" 1632 Pietro Berrettini aka Pietro da Cortona, the only altarpiece not made in mosaic in the whole Basilica
"In 1627, the Congregazione della Reverenda Fabbrica (Congregation of the Reverend Factory) had decided to entrust the execution of the work for this chapel to Guido Reni. Due to differing opinions (...) the negotiations failed, and following the sudden and controversial departure of the painter to Bologna, in February of the following year the commission went to Cortona, thanks to the support of Cardinal Francesco Barberini. It is a typical Baroque composition, dynamic, animated by many figures but at the same time harmoniously gathered. It has become an iconographic model admired in his time and imitated in the following century" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
Paintings on the walls "Angels" 1742 by Giacomo Zoboli (1681/1767)
On the right "Two spiral columns" from the old Basilica with a mosaic in the middle, copy of "St. Francis stigmatized" by Domenichino in S. Maria della Concezione
On the left organ made in 1582
The entrance to the passage is topped by sculptures "Fame holds the coat of arms of Pope Innocent X Pamphili (1644/55)" by Luigi Bernini (1612/81) designed by his brother Gian Lorenzo Bernini
On the right "Monument to Gregory XIII" Boncompagni (1572/85) 1720/23 Camillo Rusconi (1658/1728) for Cardinal Giacomo Boncompagni great-grandson of the Pope
Statues of allegories: on the left "Religion" with tablets of the Law and the Gospel book", on the right "Magnificence in the guise of Minerva" leaning against a shield with the signature of Camillo Rusconi
In the relief on the front of the sarcophagus "Proclamation of the Gregorian Calendar reform in 1582"
It was decided to go directly from October 4, 1582 to October 15, skipping 10 days, to overcome the lag of 11 minutes and 14 seconds accumulated since the time of the reform of Julius Caesar. Catholics adopted it immediately, Protestants in the eighteenth century and later the Orthodox as well as most of the countries in the world
"Although deeply rooted in the Bernini idea of sculpture, Rusconi mixed here elements from the Leo XI by Algardi (allegory) and from the Innocent XI by Monnot (whiteness of the monument, keystone sarcophagus with relief and idea of a sitting Pope on the sarcophagus), but was not a simple repetition. His monument is placed asymmetrically, the pope is not sitting on the center, nor allegories follow the usual heraldry arrangement. The tomb was made to be seen on one side. Moreover the drapery of Courage, seen from the left, creates a dominant diagonal that links the allegory to the figure of the pope. The tomb is a rare synthesis of classical and baroque tendencies of Algardi and Bernini, carried out with success in a late Baroque style by Rusconi" (Rudolf Wittkower)
On the left "Tomb of Gregory XIV" Sfondrati (1590/91) with statues in stucco on the left "Religion" and on the right "Justice" by Prospero Antichi aka Prospero Bresciano (active since 1580/d. after 1592)
Gregory XIV was pope for only 10 months
The two statues are stucco models originally belonging to the temporary grave of Gregory XIII. They should have been made of marble or bronze, but the monument was never completed and is the only one in the Basilica without a statue of the pope
Even the urn was in plaster and the current one in marble was only made in 1842
The three frescoes in monochrome refer to the life of Gregory XIII
1583 Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) for Gregory XIII Boncompagni (1572/85)
It was the first chapel to be used for worship in the new basilica and the first to be decorated with mosaics:
In the DOME of the chapel mosaics "Marian symbols supported by angels taken from the Litany of Loreto" executed in the years 1772/75 from drawings of the Sicilian Salvatore Monosilio (active since 1744/d. 1776)
In the SPANDRELS mosaics with "St. Gregory the Great", "St. Jerome", "St. Gregory Nazianzen" and "St. Basil"
In the LUNETTES mosaics with "St. Mary during the Annunciation", "Archangel Gabriel", "Ezekiel" and "Isaiah"
They were carried out in the years 1578/79 by Venetian artists from models of Girolamo Muziano (1532/92). They were restored in the years 1758/79
"The facing of the walls and vaults with polychrome marbles, stucco and mosaics followed the tradition of Roman private chapels, inaugurated by Raphael in the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria del Popolo. Progressively the same decorative schemes spread to the whole church" (Christof Thoenes)
"Madonna del Soccorso (Our Lady of Help)" dating, according to tradition, to the time of Paschal II (1099/1118), formerly in the old basilica. It is the oldest and most venerated Marian image of the basilica
Tomb of St. Gregory Nazianzen who gives his name to the chapel, along with Gregory XIII who had the remains of his namesake moved here in 1580 from the church of S. Maria in Campo Marzio
"Tomb of Gregory XVI" Cappellari (1831/46) 1854 by Luigi Amici (1817/97) in a somewhat cold purist style. The portrait of the pontiff, however, is actually very dignified and full of pathos
Statues of allegories: on the left "Sapienza" and on the right "Prudence"
In the bas-relief on the sarcophagus "Activities for the Catholic missions of Cardinal Cappellari as prefect of the Congregation of Propaganda Fide"
The jambs of the door of the monument are made out of alabaster coming from Egypt
On the sides of the monument "Two African gray marble columns" from the Temple of the Goddess Rome near the Colosseum
Mosaic "Communion of St. Jerome" from the original by Domenico Zampieri aka Domenichino (1581/1641) now in the Vatican Museum. It was executed in 1730 by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) and retouched by Alessandro Cocchi e Giuseppe Ottaviani
John XXIII called the Second Vatican Council which changed the Catholic approach to the world as well as the church liturgy. Known affectionately as "Good Pope John" and "the most beloved Pope in history" to many people, on September 3, 2000, John was declared "Blessed" by Pope John Paul II the penultimate step on the road to sainthood
On the right "Tomb of Benedict XIV" Lambertini (1740/1758) 1769 by Pietro Bracci (1700/73) with allegorical figures: on the left "Holy wisdom" and on the right "Disinterest" refusing riches offered by a putto with bat wings. The statue of Disinterest was executed by Gaspare Sibilla (about 1723/82), a pupil of Bracci
"Bracci designed a large number of tombs including those of Benedict XIII in S. Maria sopra Minerva and that of Benedict XIV, as well as many busts with fine psychological insight and a vibrant, masterful way of dealing with the surface. Still dependent from Bernini's vocabulary, he turned it into an eighteenth century style tender and lyrical, sometimes even sentimental" (Rudolf Wittkower)
"The idea of representing the pope standing, breaking with the previous tradition, appears in a drawing by Paolo Posi with whom Bracci might have worked, probably dating back to 1760" (Jennifer Montagu)
On the left mosaic "The Last Mass of St. Basil in 372 at the presence of Emperor Valens" 1748/51 by four mosaicists directed by Luigi Vanvitelli from the original 1743/47 by Pierre Subleyras (1699/1749) now in the Basilica St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs
Under the mosaic body of S. Jehoshaphat moved here in 1963, founder of the Basilian Order in 1617
Mosaic "The Martyrdom of Sts. Process and Martinian" 1737 by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) from the original painting by Jean Valentin aka Valentin de Boulogne (about 1591/1632) in the Vatican Museums
Relics of Sts. Process and Martinian from the old basilica in which they had been brought by Paschal I (817/824): according to tradition they were the guards of S. Peter in the Mamertine Prison
On the sides of the central altar "Two monolithic columns in giallo antico marble" from Chemtou in Tunisia: with the other two in the opposite transept they are considered unique in the world in size and workmanship
Ovals to the sides with portraits in mosaic "St. Anthony Mary Claret" and "St. Joaquina de Vedruna" of the nineteenth century
Stuccoes in the upper part of the niche "Episodes from the life of St. Paul" 1597/99 
Mosaic "St. Wenceslas of Bohemia" 1740 by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) and Giuseppe Ottaviani from the original painting of 1632 by Angelo Caroselli in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna
Caroselli inserted in the painting another painting with the episode of the martyrdom of S. Wenceslas: he was the young king of Bohemia in the tenth century and was killed by his younger brother while he was praying. His body is venerated in the Cathedral of St. Vitus in Prague which he had founded
Ovals to the sides with portraits in mosaic with "St. Cyril" and "St. Methodius" of the nineteenth century
Stuccoes in the upper part of the niche "Episodes from the life of St. Thomas" 1597/99
On the left ALTAR OF St. ERASMUS
Mosaic "Martyrdom of St Erasmus" 1737/39 by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) and Giuseppe Ottaviani from the original painting of the years 1628/29 by Nicolas Poussin (1594/1665) in the Vatican Museums
Ovals to the sides with portraits in mosaic with "St. Vladimir" and "St. Olga" of the nineteenth century
Stuccoes in the upper part of the niche "Episodes from the life of St. James Major" 1597/99
Stuccoes 1749 by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) and three medallions with "Stories of Sts. Peter and Paul" by G.B. Maini (1690/1752)
"S. Gaetano Thiene" 1738 by Carlo Monaldi (about 1690/1760)
"St. Jerome Emiliani" 1757 by Pietro Bracci (1700/73)
"St. Bruno" 1744 by the French Michelangelo Slodtz (1705/64) who lived in Rome for 17 years
"A dramatic event replaced, wherever possible, the simple interpretation of devotion and vision. Slodtz chose to represent the dramatic rejection of the saint of the miter and pastoral. Interest in the episode seems to weaken the spiritual content. Such a figure illustrates very well the tendency of the elegant French rococò to pervade Roman sculpture in the middle of the eighteenth century" (Rudolf Wittkower)
"S. Giuseppe Calasanzio" 1755 by Innocenzo Spinazzi (1718/98)
"A student of G.B. Maini, he turned the baroque tradition towards a more dry style, in a delicate balance between classicism, naturalism and eighteenth century grace, even more evident in his following production" (Enciclopedia Treccani)
"St. Francesca Xavier Cabrini" 1947 by Enrico Tadolini (1884/1967)
Born in 1850, she went to America at age 40 and took American citizenship in 1909. She was the first to be canonized - 1946 - of the seven American saints, she was the first woman missionary and she is the patron saint of migrants. She died in 1917
"S. Giovanna Antida Thouret" 1949 by Carlo Quattrini and Enrico Quattrini (1863/1950)
"S. Paolo della Croce" 1876 by Ignazio Jacometti (1819/83
"S. Bonfiglio Monaldi" 1906 by Cesare Aureli (1843/1923)
On the right "Monument of Clement XIII" Rezzonico (1758/69) 1784/92 by Antonio Canova (1757/1822) with allegorical figures: on the left "Religion" and on the right "Genius of Death"
Canova went to Caserta to draw from life the "Lions" kept in the Garden of Royal Palace. The one on the right represents Strength, always awake, the one on the left Meekness which moderates strength
"The solemn and binding monument is set on a regular and balanced composition and the theme of death is dealt with serene meditation. The dark baroque allegory about death becomes here the symbolic image of the Christian religion and of the funerary genius, with the inverted torch, tender allusion to the transience of earthly life" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"With the purity of the surfaces and the simplicity of the lines of the composition, this work introduces the Neoclassical style in the Vatican Basilica. The sculptural group, executed in Carrara marble, with the exception of the bases made ​​of 'lumachella' stone and the two lions made of travertine, (...) has as its vertex the portrait of the Pope on his knees, his face realistically animated. (...) With great detail Canova faced the virtuoso work of finishing the precious cope: a reference well-suited because this pope (...) is remembered in the history of textile art for the beauty and richness of his vestments" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
On the left mosaic "Boat of the Apostles" 1721 copy in mosaic by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) from the original painting of the years 1627/28 by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647) now in the loggia of the blessings
The mosaic had in turn replaced a fresco of 1605 by the excellent Genoese painter Bernardo Castello (about 1557/1629). For him, this work was the peak of his career but, sadly, it was not well received. When he learned of the decision to replace the painting in 1626, he suffered a nervous breakdown that led to his death three years after
The DOME is the only one in the basilica to alternate mosaics to plaster figures made ​​in 1725 by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736). In the mosaics "Angelic Gloria" 1726/29 by Fattori, Gossoni, Fiani, Clori, Enuò e Cocchi from drawings by Nicolò Ricciolini (1687/1772) of the years 1721/26
In the LUNETTES mosaics with "Angels and life of St. Petronilla"
In the SPANDRELS mosaics with Doctors and Fathers of the Greek and Latin Church who have written works about angels: "Leo the Great" and "Dionysius the Areopagite" from paintings by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661), "St. Bernard" from a painting by Carlo Pellegrini (1605/49) and "St. Gregory the Wonderworker" from a painting by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610/62)
"The chapel can be considered the testimony of the devotion of the French monarchs and their people for the Christian Church and this basilica in particular. It replaces the ancient imperial round building, formerly located on the left side of the old St. Peter's, where Paul I (757/767) had placed the remains of St. Petronilla after the exhumation from the Catacomb of St. Domitilla. (...) In 781, Charlemagne baptized his son Carlomanno in the rotunda and in the following centuries the French kings, from the Carolingians through the Valois, considered it as their national church, restoring it and enriching it with gifts until the destruction, decreed by Pope Julius II to make room for the new basilica" ( Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi )
Mosaic "St. Michael the Archangel" by Bernardino Regoli and Giovan Francesco Fiani from the 1635 original by Guido Reni (1575/1642) in S. Maria della Concezione
It is a famous painting of which there are hundreds of copies around the world. It was a tribute to Raphael of whom there is a painting with same subject now in the Louvre. The face of the devil is the portrait of none other than Cardinal G.B. Pamphilj who nine years later became Pope Innocent X and who had slandered Reni and the Barberini family, patron of the artist
Mosaic "Burial and glory of St. Petronilla" by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743), Filippo Cocchi and Giuseppe Ottaviani from the 1623 original by Giovanni Francesco Barbieri aka Guercino (1591/1666)
"Although it is one of the first mosaics executed in the basilica, it is the masterpiece of the entire series for the high artistic value of the painting reproduced and the sensitive ability of the mosaicists to faithfully maintain the chromatic and plastic characteristics of the original" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
Under the altar there are the relics of St. Petronilla
On the FLOOR slab of marble with inscription under which there is the tomb of the two Della Rovere popes: Sixtus IV (1471/84) and his nephew Julius II (1503/13) moved here in 1926 from the Chapel of the Choir along with two Cardinals of the same family: Galeotto Della Rovere and Fazio Santoro
The famous tomb of Julius II, designed by Michelangelo in St. Peter in Chains is therefore empty
At the center of the floor "Coat of arms of St. Pius X Sarto (1903/14)" 1908 in precious marbles, executed on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his priesthood
On the right "Tomb of Clement X" Altieri (1670/76) 1684 by Mattia De Rossi (1637/95) for the Cardinal Paluzzo Paluzzi degli Albertoni nephew of Pope Clement X, executed by former employees of Bernini:
"Statue of the Pope" by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86)
On the left "Mercy" by Giuseppe Mazzuoli (1644/1725)
On the right "Benignity" by Lazzaro Morelli (1608/90)
Bas-relief "Opening of the Holy Door in 1675" by Leonardo Retti (active 1670/1709)
"Putti" by Filippo Carcani
On the corners of the sarcophagus "Skulls with wigs" by Francesco Aprile (?/1685)
In 1962 the tomb was the object of a terrorist attack: a bomb exploded after closing time but it fortunately caused little damage
On the left mosaic "St. Peter raises Tabitha the Maiden" 1758/60 by Fiani, Ottaviani, Regoli and Paleat from the 1736/40 original by Placido Costanzi (1702/59) in St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs
It covered a ruined fresco with the same subject made in 1606 by Giovanni Baglione: it had earned him the honorary title of Knight of Christ but it was very much criticized by Caravaggio, who had scoffed at him publicly
APSIDAL BASIN stuccoes 1749 by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) and three medallions "Stories of Sts. Peter and Paul" by G.B. Maini (1690/1752)
"Chair of St. Peter" 1656/65 extraordinary masterpiece by Bernini for Alexander VII Chigi (1655/67)
Bronze reliefs on the dossal "Christ entrusts to Peter the guidance of the Church", on the left side "Handing of the keys", on the right side "Washing of the Feet"
Bernini was helped by 35 artists, including Ercole Ferrata (1610/86), Ercole Antonio Raggi (1624/86) and Lazzaro Morelli (1608/90)
The chair was proved to be a wooden throne dating to the year 875 donated by Charles the Bald to Pope John VIII (872/882) on the occasion of his coronation here
Humongous bronze statues of Doctors of the Church:
In front to the right "St. Augustine", to the left "St. Ambrose" (Latin Church)
Behind to the left "St. Athanasius", to the right "St. John Chrysostom" (Greek Church)
The bronze structure's weight is 74 tonnes (81.5 tons). The height is 14.74 m (48.3 feet). The statues of the Doctors of the Church are 5.35 m (17.5 feet) high
Window with stained glass "Dove of the Holy Spirit" 1911 by the German glassmaker Hagle from the original design of Giovanni Paolo Schor (1615/74)
"The Chair as other works he did has been designed for a framed main view. It was conceived as a carved painting, full color and enormous in size. The compositional principle that lies behind the use of color here is obvious: the color lightens up, and becomes more visionary, as the characters and objects get closer to the celestial region. Therefore here polychromy has a supernatural significance" (Rudolf Wittkower)
"The four Doctors of the Church in bronze, with expressions full of pathos and impetuous gestures still reveal a distant reminder of the great paintings by Rubens, while the glory of Paradise in gilded plaster, bronze and glass can be considered the crown of the figurative research on the theme of the celestial apparition and of the immeasurable space, which had concerned, since Correggio, Italian artists for over a century" (Alessandro Angelini)
"The stained glass in the center of the composition, is both light and pictorial image but, because of the perfect direction, the observer's eye is not troubled by the contrast of tones" (Paolo Portoghesi)
Bronze ALTAR made in 1975 by the American Albert Friscia (1911/89) covered by the mobile altar of 1907 by Constantino Annecher decorated with a medallion with busts of St. Peter and St. Paul
"Monument to Urban VIII" Barberini (1623/44) 1627/47 by Bernini
Statue on the left "Charity" in the likeness of Constanza Bonarelli, wife of an assistant to Bernini and his mistress: he had her scarred in her face after learning that she was also the lover of his brother punished, in turn, with a beating
The statue originally had naked breasts and it was covered at the end of the nineteenth century
Statue on the right "Justice"
First example ever of the baroque tomb, heir of Michelangelo's Medici tombs
Over the sarcophagus there is a skeleton who writes the epitaph as a memento mori, a remainder that we all must die. On the pages of the book are also visible the initials of the popes before Urban VIII: G for Gregory XV Ludovisi (1621/23) and P for Paul V Borghese (1605/21)
"Representing death writing was a lively and pulsing way to replace the predictable epigraphic scroll" (Maurizio Fagiolo Dell'Arco)
"The contrast of materials is significant: all that is in direct contact with the deceased, the coffin, Death, the papal statue itself is made of dark bronze. However allegories of the Virtues are in shining white marble: with their human qualities, especially Charity, they present themselves as mediators between the viewer and the pope. Bernini, surpassing the formal classicism of the sixteenth-century tombs, infuses new vitality and spectacular dynamism in the funereal theme: he creates the archetype of the Baroque tomb" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"Monument to Paul III" Farnese (1534/49) 1551/75 by Guglielmo Della Porta (1515/77) for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese
The base was originally the tomb of Bishop Francesco di Bagnoregio de Solis (d. 1545)
Statue on the left "Justice" in the likeness of Giulia Farnese, Paul III's sister, covered in 1595 with a white painted metal covering by Teodoro Della Porta (1567/1638) Guglielmo's son
Statue on the right "Prudence" in the likeness of Giovanella Caetani, mother of Paul III
Originally also "Abundance" and "Peace", now in the Palazzo Farnese, were part of the monument
Between the two statues precious "Mask" in the rare black marble portoro from the Farnese Gardens on Palatine Hill
It was the first monumental papal tomb to be erected in the Basilica
It was moved from the St. Andrew pier to this position in 1628 by Bernini
Giulia Farnese was known as Giulia Bella. She had jet-black eyes, long blonde dyed hair and white skin that apparently she used to show off sleeping only on black silk sheets. From the age of 15 she was for five years the lover of the then 58 years old Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia who later became Pope Alexander VI (1492/1503), although she had just married Orso Orsini who was suffering from excessive spots on his face and had only one eye
She became the official mistress of the pope and made sure that her little brother Alessandro was made cardinal. He was then nicknamed "Skirt cardinal" and became, in turn, pope under the name Paul III
Gioacchino Belli in a sonnet describes the reason for the censorship of the statue of Justice: an English gentleman (or perhaps a Spanish seminarian) was caught masturbating in front of the seductive nude
"It has been said that Guglielmo executed the work under the direction of Michelangelo. Beside the historical confirmation, Michelangelesque is the idea of the seated statue of the deceased and even more so the two allegories lying below, clear reminder of the Medici tombs in the New Sacristy of St. Lawrence in Florence" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
"It was inevitable that the chair was placed in between the tombs of two popes whose pontificates frame the active period of the Counter-Reformation. Nothing symbolizes more clearly the new Ecclesia Triumphans" (Howard Hibbard)
"Prophet Elijah" 1727 by Agostino Cornacchini (1683/1740)
"St. Dominic" 1706 by Pierre Legros (1666/1719)
"St. Benedict" 1735 by Antonio Montauti (1685/1740)
"St. Francis of Assisi" 1727 by Carlo Monaldi (about 1690/1760)
Under the statue "Plaque to commemorate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception" on December 8, 1854
"S. Francis de Sales" 1845 by Adamo Tadolini (1788/1868)
"S. Francis Caracciolo" 1834 by Francesco Massimiliano Laboureur (1767/1831) and Innocenzo Fraccaroli
"S. Frances of Rome" 1850 by Pietro Galli (1804/77) pupil of Bertel Thorvaldsen
"S. Alfonso Maria de' Liguori" 1839 by Pietro Tenerani (1789/1869)
On the right "Tomb of Alexander VIII" Ottoboni (1689/91) 1725 Carlo Arrigo di San Martino for Card. Pietro Ottoboni grandnephew of the pope
Relief "Delivery of gifts during the canonization in 1690 of various saints, including S. Giovanni da Dio, Pasquale Baylon, Giovanni da S. Facondo and Lorenzo Giustiniani" by the Genoese Angelo De Rossi (1671/1715) who had also designed and modeled in stucco the statues of the pope and of the allegories made after his death by Giuseppe Bertosi (pope) e Giuseppe Raffaelli (on the left "Religion" and on the right "Prudence")
Behind the tomb of Alexander VIII there is the small OTTOBONI SACRISTY recently restored with "Bronze reliefs" and "Crucifix" 1972 by Francesco Messina (1900/95) and two seventeenth-century paintings by Francesco Perugini da Sermoneta
On the left mosaic "Sts. Peter and John heal a lame man" 1751/58 by Ottaviani, Cocchi, Enuò and Paleat from the original of the years 1746/49 by Francesco Mancini (1679/1758), now in the Hall of the Blessings
Begun by Jacopo Barozzi aka Vignola (1507/73) and completed by Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602)
In the DOME of the chapel mosaics "Allegories and symbols of the Virgin" 1751/57 by Fattori, Gossoni, Regoli, Paleat, Ottaviani, Polverelli and Volpini from drawings by Giacomo Zoboli (1681/1767) of the year 1742
In the LUNETTES mosaics with "King David", "King Solomon", "Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus" and "Joseph's Dream"1643/44 by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610/62) from Viterbo, pupil of Pietro da Cortona, executed as mosaics in the years 1645/47 by G.B. Calandra and Guidobaldo Abbatini (1600/56)
In the PENDENTIVES mosaics with four doctors of the Church, "St. Germain" and "St. Bonaventure" by Giovanni Lanfranco (1582/1647), "St. John of Damascus" and "St. Thomas Aquinas" by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661) executed as mosaics in the years 1631/36 by G.B. Calandra
Venerated "Madonna" of the fifteenth century on a truncated column of portasanta marble formerly in the old Basilica. The beautiful marble frame was designed in 1581 by Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602)
A copy of this image was made in mosaic substituting a window of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter's Square at the behest of Pope John Paul II following the failed attack of May 13th, 1981
Christian sarcophagus of the fourth century containing the remains of popes Leo II (682/683), Leo III (795/816) and Leo IV (847/855) collected by Pascal II (1099/1118)
Altar with the relics of St. Leo the Great (440/461) with decorations by Francesco Borromini and marble altarpiece (the only one in the Basilica) "Leo the Great meets Attila the Hun" 1646/50 masterpiece of Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654) with the help of his pupil Domenico Guidi (1625/ 1701)
The body of S. Leo the Great was found intact in 1607 in the Vatican Grottoes, where it had been originally buried
"The interpretation of the event is simple and compelling: as in Raphael's, only the Pope and the King can see the miraculous appearance of the apostles and the division into three parts (left, right and upper part) is strictly maintained. One cannot but admire the psychological compositional logic and clarity. The unusual size (over 7 meters - 23 feet - in height) has often led to believe erroneously that his style is unprecedented, but in fact the history of the illusionistic relief dates from the early days of the Renaissance, Donatello and Ghiberti. In contrast, however, with the emphasis of the Renaissance relief, Algardi didn't try to create a coherent optical space and used mainly shades and projection of figures to produce the illusion of depth. More effective than the illusionistic painting, pictorial relief fulfilled the Baroque desire to erase the line between life and art, the viewer and the figure" (Rudolf Wittkower)
Marble circle in the floor with Tomb of Leo XII Sermattei (1823/29)
On the left "Apparition of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque" 1921/24 mosaic by Carlo Muccioli (1857/1931)
It was the last major undertaking in the 1900s that replaced the painting on slate "Fall of Simon Magus" by Francesco Vanni. It should have been replaced by the one with the same subject by Pompeo Batoni, but it was never placed here and now is in the Basilica of S. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs. It was temporarily replaced by a copy of Vanni's painting executed by Pierre Charles Tremollière which is now also in the Basilica of the Angels and Martyrs
On the right spectacular "Tomb of Alexander VII" Chigi (1655/67) 1671/78 by Bernini with assistants for Cardinal Flavio Chigi, nephew of the Pope:
On the left "Charity" 1673/75 by Giuseppe Mazzuoli (1644/1725)
Behind the Charity "Bust of Prudence" begun by Giuseppe Baratta 1675/77 and finished by Giulio Cartari (active 1665/78)
On the right "Truth" 1673/77 begun by Lazzaro Morelli (1608/90) and finished by Giulio Cartari
It can't be a coincidence the fact that the allegory of Truth is trampling with her left foot Protestant England hated by Catholic Rome
Behind the Truth "Bust of Justice" 1676 by Giulio Cartari
"Alexander VII" 1675/76 by Michel Maille aka Michele Maglia (active in Rome in the second half of the seventeenth century) finished in 1677 by Giulio Cartari and Domenico Basadonna
Bronze parts by Girolamo Lucenti (?/1698) who also made with Filippo Carcani (active 1670/91) the bronze cloth of the Truth in 1678 after Innocent XI Odescalchi (1676/89) had complained about the nudity
The exceptional drape is made out of travertine executed by Lazzaro Morelli and Michel Maille covered in pink Sicilian jasper by Gabriele Renzi
The base of Portovenere marble has natural grains that support and integrate the mosaic work of the artist to obtain a material that, even if taken from nature, shows creative artificial connotations
Alexander VII was holding so much in mind the impending death that he used to sleep with his future coffin of lead under the bed
"In the late tomb of Alexander VII, Bernini emphasized the contrast between the transience of life (Death with hourglass) and the unflappable faith of the praying Pope. But this idea, which corresponded so well to the convictions of Bernini himself on the threshold of death, was too personal to get much following. When it was resumed during the 1700s, the idea was changed: Death was no longer counterbalanced by the certainty of salvation by faith and it would only terrorize the human race threatened to eternal destruction" (Rudolf Wittkower)
The passage under the monument of Alexander VII leads to the south exit of the basilica with the "Gate of Prayer" 1972 by Lello Scorzelli (1921/1997)
"This is the first part of the basilica completed while Michelangelo was still alive. The lining of the apse of this transect was carried out in 1558 under the direction of the Tuscan artist, and even if the attic was modified between 1605 and 1610, in the following years it was used as a model of architectural decoration for the entire building" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
Mosaic 1963 "St. Joseph with Baby Jesus" from the original 1962 tempera painting by Achille Funi (1890/1972)
Relics of the Apostles Sts. Simon and Jude in a sarcophagus of the fourth century from the Mausoleum of St. Constance
Ovals on the sides with mosaic portraits "St. Simon" and "St. Jude" 1858 from the 1822 original paintings by Vincenzo Camuccini (1771/1844)
The columns of the aedicula in red porphyry were recycled from the ciborium of the fifteenth century in the ancient basilica
On the sides of the central altar "Two monolithic columns" in giallo antico marble from Chemtou in Tunisia: with the other two in the opposite transept they are considered unique in the world in size and workmanship
To the right ALTAR OF St. THOMAS
Mosaic 1806/22 "Doubting Thomas" from original by Vincenzo Camuccini (1771/1844)
Under the altar relics of St. Boniface IV (608/615), the pope who consecrated the Pantheon to the Christian religion
Ovals to the sides with portraits in mosaic "S. Maria Domenica Mazzarello" and "S. Maddalena Gabriella di Canossa" of the nineteenth century
To the left ALTAR OF St. PETER
Traditionally considered the site of the upside down crucifixion of St. Peter and of his death
Mosaic "Crucifixion of St. Peter" from the 1604/05 original by Guido Reni (1575/1642) in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, originally painted for St. Paul at the Three Fountains
Under the altar body of St. Leo IX (1049/54) in a strigilated white marble sarcophagus
Ovals to the sides with portraits in mosaic "S. Lorenzo Ruiz" and "S. Antonio Maria Gianelli" of the nineteenth century
Stuccoes 1749 by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73) and three medallions "Stories of Sts. Peter and Paul" by G.B. Maini (1690/1752)
On the right
"S. Giuliana Falconieri" 1740 by Pietro Paolo Campi (active 1702/40)
"S. Norberto" 1767 by Pietro Bracci (1700/73)
On the left
"S. Giovanni di Dio" 1745 by Filippo Della Valle (1698/1768)
"S. Pietro Nolasco" 1742 by Pietro Paolo Campi
"S. Angela Merici" 1866 by Pietro Galli (1804/77)
"S. Guglielmo di Vercelli" 1878 by Giuseppe Prinzi
"S. Maria di S. Eufrasia Pellettier" 1942 by Giovanni Nicolini (1872/1956)
"S. Luisa de Marillac" 1954 by Antonio Berti (1904/90)
On the right "Monument of Pius VIII" Castiglioni (1829/30) 1853/66 Pietro Tenerani (1789/1869) for the Cardinal Giuseppe Albani. Underneath sacristy entrance flanked by reliefs also by Tenerani: on the right "Prudence" and on the left "Justice"
Pius VIII wanted to abolish the nepotism of the popes, the Vatican's espionage and condemned all secret societies. He reigned only twenty months, and when he died at age 69, there were rumors of poisoning
On the left mosaic "Punishment of Ananias and Sapphira" 1721/28 by Pietro Adami from the 1606 original by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626) now in St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs
The altar is known as the Altar of the Lie for the story of Ananias and Sapphira who, after selling a farm, had delivered to the apostles only a portion of the proceeds, claiming mendaciously to have supplied the full amount: for this lie they were killed by God
"The way the dramatic story was represented here through a few figures relatively quiet but powerful, without the multitude of people used by the Zuccaris' imitators, also seemed to indicate a new road for the altarpieces with historical subjects that had come to a standstill at that time both among the followers of the Zuccaris and among the imitators of Barocci. It is significant that Roman painting, just before the phenomenon of the Carraccis would be known in Rome, would generate similar phenomena alone" (Hermann Voss)
1592/1605 Giacomo Della Porta (1533/1602) for Clement VIII Aldobrandini (1592/1605)
In the DOME of the chapel mosaics "Angels, festoons and stories alluding to the dignity of the papacy and of the Aldobrandini family" 1599/1602 by fourteen mosaicists from drawings by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio (1552/1626)
In the LUNETTES mosaics with "Prophet Malachi assisted by an angel" by Pietro Paolo Rossetti and Marcello Provenzale, "Prophet Daniel in the lions' den" by Pietro Paolo Rossetti and Marcello Provenzale, "Virgin Mary and St. Joseph" by Marcello Provenzale and "St. Elizabeth" by Ludovico Martinelli 1599/1603 from drawings by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio
In the SPANDRELS mosaics with four doctors of the Greek and Latin Church, also represented in the Chair of St. Peter: "St. Ambrose", "St. Augustine", "St. John Chrysostom" and "St. Athanasius" 1599/1602 by fourteen mosaicists from drawings by Cristoforo Roncalli aka Pomarancio
Above the altar on the right mosaic "Miracle of St. Gregory the Great (590/604)" 1770/72 by Alessandro Cocchi, his son Filippo Cocchi and Vincenzo Castellini from the original by Andrea Sacchi (1599/1661)
The episode is actually originally attributed by the Christian tradition to St. Leo the Great: some princes had not valued important a relic of a piece of St. John the Evangelist's dalmatic (a tunic used by priests) and St. Gregory the Great would have cut it with a knife making blood flow from it to demonstrate its importance and veracity
From 1725 to 1784 in the chapel there were three large canvases by Pier Leone Ghezzi with "Stories of St. Clement" removed when the Sacristy was built. One of the three "The Drowning of St. Clement" is exhibited in the Pinacoteca Vaticana
In front "Tomb of Pius VII" Chiaramonti (1800/23) with in the upper part winged statues representing on the right "Time" and on the left "History"; the large statues represent on the right "Heavenly Wisdom" and on the left "Divine Force" 1823/31 by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770/1844) for Cardinal Ercole Consalvi
The architectural design was by Giuseppe Valadier (1762/1839)
The choice of the Danish Thorvaldsen, the only Protestant artist to ever work in St. Peter, provoked much criticism also for the controversial choice of iconography: Heavenly Wisdom reading the Bible and pondering with a gesture of the finger on its meaning is certainly closer to a Protestant vision of Christianity than to a Catholic one
"The bloodless Spiritualism of the Danish sculptor, his thin Archaism, which later will have points in common with purist tendencies introduced by the Nazarenes in Rome, seemed to meet the demands posed by more rigorous theoretical ideals of beauty, by a longing for a beauty of which (as Winckelmann wrote) it could be said, as for water taken from a source that, the least it is tasty, meaning devoid of any foreign particle, the more healthy it is considered" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
On the left mosaic "Transfiguration" 1757/67 by Alessandro Cocchi assisted by eight mosaicists from the unfinished original of the years 1517/20 by Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael) (1483/1520). In order to make the mosaic, a copy was made in 1757 by Stefano Pozzi (1699/1768) of the masterpiece painted by Raphael
Under the altar with the Transfiguration there is since 2011, the crystal urn with the body of the Blessed Innocent XI Odescalchi (1676/89). It was exhumed in 1956 from his monument on the occasion of his beatification ceremony and placed under the altar of St. Sebastian, now occupied by the tomb of John Paul II
The entrance to the passage is topped by sculptures "Fame holds the coat of arms of Pope Innocent X Pamphili (1644/55)" by Luigi Bernini (1612/81) designed by his brother Gian Lorenzo Bernini
On the right "Monument to Leo XI" Medici (April 1605) 1634/44, shown to the general public only on 1652, by Alessandro Algardi (1598/1654) for Cardinal Roberto Ubaldini, nephew of the pope
In the relief of the sarcophagus on the right "King Henry IV embraces the Catholic faith" and on the left "Ratification of the Vervins Peace in 1598" episodes in which the future pope, then still Cardinal Alessandro d'Ottaviano de' Medici papal nuncio in France, played a significant role
To the left of the monument statue "Magnanimity" by Ercole Ferrata (1610/86) and on the right "Liberality" by Giuseppe Peroni (about 1626/63) for Cardinal Roberto Ubaldini Leone XI's nephew
The fourteen roses carved in the relief should represent the number of days during which he was effectively pope, although his pontificate lasted in fact twenty-seven days
"Composition of undoubted derivation from the tomb of Urban VIII by Bernini conceived six years before, the tomb of Algardi however expresses his autonomous aesthetic-formal beliefs. Algardi avoided the use of polychrome marble and fully adopted the white Carrara marble perfectly smooth on surfaces as well as cold and uniform for the human skin. In addition, instead of dwelling on the idea of the transience of life, as found in the interpretation Bernini, he preferred to give the allegorical figures and Pope himself a moral ideal permanent condition, expressed by the composure of gestures and expressions. The overwhelming size of the figures compared to the structure indicate a classical stylistical preference" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
On the left "Monument to the Blessed Innocent XI" Odescalchi (1676/89) designed 1697/1701 by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713) and executed, perhaps reinterpreting Maratta's ideas, by Pierre-Étienne Monnot (1657/1733) for the pope's nephew Livio Odescalchi
On the right "Fortitude" and on the left "Religion"
The Pope's body is visible in the Clementine Chapel under the Transfiguration
"Elements derived both from Bernini and Algardi are gathered here: the tomb of Urban VIII was used as a model for the multicolored rendition, but for the types of allegory and narrative relief Monnot followed the tomb of Leo XI. He put the emphasis not on the sarcophagus itself, but on the pedestal of the statue of the pope. The inclusion of this pedestal made it necessary to reduce significantly the size of the figure of the pope in comparison to Algardi's one. The increased importance of the decorative elements at the expense of figures sheds light on the stylistic change from the Baroque to the late Baroque" (Rudolf Wittkower)
DOME OF THE VESTIBULE OF THE THIRD CHAPEL ON THE LEFT (Dedicated to glorification of God through music)
Mosaic in the DOME "Vision of the Apocalypse with Angels, the Elected Ones and the four beasts of the Tetramorphe surrounding and adoring the throne of the Eternal God" 1712/16 by Cocchi, Adami, Fattori, Ottaviani and De Rossi from the original designed at first by Ciro Ferri (1634/89), then, in the years 1699/1711, by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713), and in the years 1711/16 by the Bolognese Marcantonio Franceschini (1648/1729)
In the SPANDRELS mosaics with four singers of divine glories 1699/1703 by Giuseppe Conti:
"Daniel surrounded by lions while writing" and "Habakkuk and the Angel" from cartoons by Carlo Maratta
"David" and "Jonah" from cartoons by Ciro Ferri
In the LUNETTES mosaics with songs of praise, victories and tears from the Old Testament 1719/23 by Giuseppe Ottaviani and Prospero Glori:
"Moses in prayer on Mount Sinai supported by Aaron and Hur"
"The priest Azariah reproaches the King Uzziah" from cartoons by Nicolò Ricciolini (1687/1772)
"Judith delivering the head of Holofernes to hang it on the wall"
"The prophetess Deborah sent for Barak"
"Jeremiah weeping over the holy city"
"Deborah and Barak" from cartoons by Marcantonio Franceschini
In the DRUM four statues in stucco "Angels with Eucharistic symbols" in 1713 by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736)
Designed by Carlo Maderno (1556/1629)
The area of​​this chapel in the old basilica was known as the Sistine Chapel of St. Peter because Sixtus IV della Rovere (1471/84) had built it in 1477 and had it painted by Pietro Perugino. His grandiose tomb, executed by Antonio and Pietro Pollaiuolo remained here until 1635
Gate made out of iron, bronze and crystal 1758/60 by Giuseppe Giardoni
Ancient "Granite Urn" with relics of St. John Chrysostom who died in 407
In 2004 John Paul II gave some of the relics to the Patriarch of Constantinople
Stucco decoration 1626 by G.B. Ricci (about 1550/1624) and maybe by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713)
Mosaic "Immaculate Conception along with Sts. Francis of Assisi, Anthony of Padua and John Chrysostom" 1744/47 by Ottaviani, Onofri, Enuò and Paleat from the original of 1740 by Pietro Bianchi aka Creatura (1694/1740), a Roman student of Benedetto Luti and Baciccio, now in St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs
The lower part of the painting was completed in 1744 by Gaetano Sardi, Bianchi's student. The work had been exposed incomplete because the lower part was not very visible at the time anyway, being occluded by Michelangelo's Pieta which was located here
The image of the Virgin Mary was crowned on the 8th of December 1854 by Pope Pius IX on the occasion of the promulgation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In 1904 nine stars were added around the crown, formed by precious diamonds donated by an international committee of wealthy ladies
On the walls "Paintings in monochrome with episodes from the Old and New Testament from Creation to the Baptism of Christ" 1762 by Giovanni Angeloni, Stefano Pozzi (1699/1768) and his brother Giuseppe Pozzi
Under the floor tomb of Clement XI Albani (1700/21)
"Chairs of the choir" in beautiful wooden marquetry by Bartolomeo De Rossi and G.B. Soria (1581/1651)
The organ dates back to 1626 remade by the Walker firm from Ludwigsburg
On the right "Memorial of St. Pius X" Sarto (1903/14) 1923 by Florestano Di Fausto (1890/1965), with statue by Pier Enrico Astorri (1882/1926)
Bas-reliefs on the door at the bottom with "Stories of St. Pius X" by Pier Enrico Astorri who also sculpted the large bronze reliefs on the sides of the door: on the right "Acceptance of the doctrine of the Church against the excessive modernism on the part of scholars" and on the left "Communion of children". Pius X promoted the practice of Communion and was known as the Pope of the Eucharist
He was canonized in 1954, the last pope to be declared a saint
On the left "Tomb of Innocent VIII" Cybo (1484/92) 1498 by Antonio Benci aka Antonio del Pollaiolo (about 1432/98) for Cardinal Lorenzo Cybo, nephew of the pope
Bronze bas-reliefs on the sides of the throne with "Cardinal Virtues: Justice and Fortitude on the left and Temperance and Prudence on the right. In the lunette "Theological Virtues: Charity in the middle, Faith on the left and Hope on the right
Before 1621 the sarcophagus was placed above the shelf in the upper part of the monument
The inscription in black stone beneath the monument dates back to the rearrangement of 1621 and mistakenly describes the discovery of America as occurred during his reign. Actually Innocent VIII died eight days after the departure of Christopher Columbus
"He holds the Holy Lance in his right hand, an important relic recovered from the Turks. This model tomb for a pope, for its powerful visual impact, had enormous success until the early 1800s" (Carlo Bertelli, Giuliano Briganti, Antonio Giuliano)
"He represents the figure as a core of maximum intensity within a halo. The movement has the function of disarticulating the figure to hold the light at a rapid and discontinuous pace. Just because the line cannot have continuity of sign, it acts freely at all levels, making levitate and boil the material in the light" (Giulio Carlo Argan)
Mosaic in the DOME "Defeat of Lucifer and Coronation of the Virgin Mary above the choirs of angels" 1686/89 by Fabio Cristofari (about 1615/89) who left the job incomplete at his death
It was continued in the years 1704/17 by Giuseppe Conti and in the years 1717/25 by Del Pozzo, Gossoni, Ottaviani, Moretti, Clori and De Rossi from the original designed in the years 1675/86 by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713) and and his favorite pupil Giuseppe Chiari (1654/1727) who designed the Defeat of Lucifer
In the SPANDRELS four prophets who prefigured the Virgin Mary by Fabio Cristofari and Giuseppe Conti from cartoons by Carlo Maratta:
"Noah and the Ark and the Dove of Peace"
"Aaron incenses the congregation of Israel"
"Balaam showing the Star of Jacob"
"Gideon's mystical fleece wet with dew"
In the LUNETTES events of the Old Testament interpreted as premonitory of the Virgin Mary by Fabio Cristofari and Giuseppe Conti from cartoons by Carlo Maratta and Giuseppe Chiari:
"Judith with the Head of Holofernes"
"Jael, wife of Heber, pierces Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army"
"Joshua stopping the sun"
"The prophetess Miriam, the sister of Aaron, sings the liberation of the Israelites"
"Moses taking off his sandals before the burning bush"
"Isaiah invokes the cloud to let justice rain"
In DRUM four statues in stucco "Angels with Marian symbols" 1687 by Filippo Carcani (active 1670/91)
SECOND CHAPEL ON THE LEFT (Presentation of the Virgin)
On the altar mosaic "Presentation of Mary in the Temple" 1726/28 by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) from a model by Luigi Vanvitelli (1700/73), from the 1642 original by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli (1610/62) now in the church of St. Mark in Milan
Under the altar body of St. Pius X Sarto (1903/14) in a 1952 urn of gilt bronze by Francesco Nagni (1897/1977)
On the right "Monument to John XXIII" Roncalli (1958/63) 1967 by Emilio Greco (1913/95)
"Simple and basic in its setting, the monument is characterized by the bronze bas-relief on which are narrated in a contracted and nervy manner, the most important moments of the pontificate of Pope John, both pastoral and human. The upper zone is animated by a Glory of angels, while the lower one refers to the presence of the pope among the suffering, the sick, and the imprisoned. In the background the silhouettes of miters and the figures of bishops lightly drawn remind of the event of the Second Vatican Council" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
On the left "Monument to Benedict XV" Della Chiesa (1914/22) 1928 by Luca Beltrami (1854/1933), architect of the Pinacoteca Vaticana, with statue by Pietro Canonica (1869/1959)
"The artist, refusing a celebratory representation, wanted to emphasize the human aspect of Benedict XV, recalling his work of condemnation of the war in vain repeated during the years of his pontificate. Modeled with finesse and deliberately devoid of solemn vestments, the pope is depicted in an attitude of prayer while begs the Regina Pacis against the horrors of war" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
In the middle of the floor "Coat of arms of John Paul II (1978/2005)" 1998 in the occasion of the restoration of the entire floor
On the right "Monument to Maria Clementina Sobieski" wife of James III Stuart, King of England and nephew of King John II of Poland. She died thirty years old in 1735 (the heart is in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles) 1742 Filippo Barigioni (about 1680/1753), a pupil of Carlo Fontana
Marble sculptures "Charity" and "Little angels" by Pietro Bracci (1700/73)
Metal parts by Giovanni Giardini (1646/1721)
Mosaic by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) from original by Ludovico Stern (1709/77) in the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh
On the left "Monument of the last Stuart" with portraits of James III (1688/1766), Charles Edward Count of Albany and Henry Duke of York and Bishop of Frascati 1817/19 by Antonio Canova (1757/1822) for King George V of England who, as Stendhal said, paid for the tomb of these princes whom he would have probably beheaded if he would have seized them
The actual tomb is in the Vatican Grottos commissioned in 1939 by the British King George VI
"Canova infused in his neoclassical inspiration, characterized by shades of a somewhat pagan character, a vitalizing Christian lyricism. The smoothness of the surface coating of marble links the various elements of the composition, the three Stuart busts and the two figures of the genii, with torches upside down, turning off the flame of life (...), symbolizing the peaceful Christian resignation in the face of death" (Alfredo Maria Pergolizzi)
James II, father of James III, was Duke of York before being King of England, Scotland and Ireland and, as Duke of York, he was commander of the Royal Navy. In 1644 the British captured the Dutch territory of New Netherlands and renamed it in his honor the most important city, which was formerly known as New Amsterdam, into New York
In the nineteenth century the two naked angels carved on the tomb were considered too scandalous and were provided with metal pants by Pietro Galli. They were eventually removed
"In 1850 Pietro Galli was appointed sculptor of the Reverend Fabric of St. Peter, where there were his marble statues of St. Frances of Rome and St. Angela Merici. In the same year Galli made in the Vatican a 'purification' job of covering those figures who could 'do offence to the natural honesty'. The statues deemed worthy of covering were: Charity of the monumental tombs by Bernini of Urban VIII and Alexander VII, the Genius of Canova's tomb of Clement XIII, the Genii of the cenotaph erect, also by Canova, for the last members of the royal Stuart family, the putti supporting the medallions with portraits of the popes on the piers commissioned by Innocent X" (Emanuela Bianchi - Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani Treccani)
Mosaic in the DOME "God the Father and Adam and Eve" 1738, "Desire baptism of the peoples longing for the baptism of purification" 1738/39, "Blood baptism of the martyrs" 1740/43, "Water baptism of St. John the Baptist" 1743 and "Glory of angels" 1744/45 carried out by the mosaicists Fattori, Gossoni, Fiani, Cardoni, Clori, Cocchi, Enuò and Onofri under the supervision of Pier Leone Ghezzi (1674/1755) and Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) from the originals begun by G.B. Gaulli aka Baciccio (1639/1709) but designed after his death in the years 1713/45 by Francesco Trevisani (1656/1746). The original cartoons are in the church of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs
In the SPANDRELS mosaics with four continents:
"Europe with triple crown" by Giuseppe Ottaviani
"America donning feathers and a quiver" by Giuseppe Ottaviani
"Africa with elephant" by Liborio Fattori
"Asia with the censer" by G.B. Brughi
In the LUNETTES mosaics with events of the Old and New Testament symbolizing or representing baptism:
"Noah gazing at the rainbow after the flood" by Nicola Onofri and Bernardino Regoli
"Moses drawing water from the rock" by Alessandro Cocchi and Bernardino Regoli
"Christ baptizes St. Peter" by Alessandro Cocchi and Giovanni Fiani
"St. Peter baptizing the Centurion Cornelius" by Nicola Onofri and Domenico Gossoni
"St. Philip baptizing the eunuch of Queen Candace" by Liborio Fattori and Pietro Cardoni
"St. Sylvester baptizes the Emperor Constantine" by Enrico Enuò and Silverio de Lellys
In the DRUM four statues in stucco with "Angels" 1712 by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736)
"Cover in gilt bronze with Trinity and Agnus Dei" by Carlo Fontana (1634/1714) executed by Lorenzo Ottoni (1648/1736) for the "Sarcophagus" in red Egyptian porphyry maybe for the Emperor Hadrian, later used as the tomb of Emperor Otto II and placed here in 1697
Carlo Fontana won the commission in 1692 after an invitation to tender in which more than twenty artists had participated. The work took five years first because of the refusal of his first project, rejected for the size and for the excessive costs and then because of an accident during transport: the basin of porphyry broke down and had to be repaired
Carlo Fontana blamed the rival Mattia De Rossi (1637/95) at the time chief architect of the basilica and one of the artists defeated by Fontana in the tender for the Baptistery
The structure is located in a concavity in the floor created in 1725 at the behest of Benedict XIII Orsini (1724/30) to recall the ancient Christian tradition linked to the symbolism of full-immersion baptism
At the center mosaic "Baptism of Christ" 1730 by G.B. Brughi (1660/1730) and 1731/34 by Pietro Paolo Cristofari (1685/1743) with the help of Giuseppe Ottaviani from the original of the years 1696/98 by Carlo Maratta (1625/1713) in S. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs
On the right mosaic "Baptism of Sts. Processus and Martinian" begun in 1726 by G.B. Brughi and completed in 1737 by Pietro Paolo Cristofari from the original of the years 1710/11 by Giuseppe Passeri (1654/1714), Carlo Maratta's favorite student
On the left mosaic "St. Peter Baptizing the Centurion Cornelius" 1730/37 by Pietro Paolo Cristofari and his brother Filippo Cristofari from the 1710 original by Andrea Procaccini (1671/1734), another student of Maratta
In the SMALL DOME stucco with "God the Father Blessing" 1699 by Carlo Giorgio Roncati and monochrome paintings with "Angels with chandeliers" by Paolo Albertoni
1776/84 Carlo Marchionni (1702/86)
To build the old church S. MARIA DELLA FEBBRE (St. Mary of the Fever) was demolished, so called for a holy image that was considered protective against malaria. The church building was one of two funerary mausoleums of the fourth century AD built on the side of the basilica and was also known as the ROTONDA DI S. ANDREA (Rotunda of St. Andrew). The other mausoleum was the ROTONDA DI S. PETRONILLA (Rotunda of St. Petronilla)
In the common sacristy (not open to public) paintings by Federico Zuccari, Giovanni Francesco Penni (about 1496/1528), Giulio Romano (1499/1546) and Andrea Sacchi


  1. I just came across this searching for photos of a "Baldaquin" supported by two poles only hanging away from a wall like markets etc..
    I am not a church goer but love Architecture History the Arts etc. I am amazed about the precise info your provide.
    Just watched a BBC documentary yesterday about the Michelangelo and his work painting the sixteen chapel and his architecture.
    I sure will come back to your site
    Very surprised no other comments on your immense work.
    You should make it a Tumblr you'd get many followers. Gracie Ciao from Canada

  2. I added the link to your blog on my Design oriented FB