Thursday, October 3, 2013

BASILICA OF St. PETER (first part)

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 the sixteenth century by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1483/1546)
Modified by Bernini in the years 1663/66

The "Bronze Gate" 1619 at the bottom of the stairs was the original focal point of the whole Vatican complex, located, as it was, in correspondence with the now disappeared Via Recta or Via Alessandrina laid out at the behest of ​​Alexander VI Borgia (1492/1503). It is still the official entrance to the Apostolic Palace
"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 )

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