Friday, January 21, 2011

Rome: The Vatican Pt 2 of 2

After the Sistine Chapel, it is hard to imagine seeing something as great--until we entered St. Peter's Basilica.

 St. Peter's Dome from the inside

 The dome had several architects including Michelangelo. We can thank Michelangelo for adding windows in the basilica and dome.

However, Michelangelo had designed the dome to be a squat hemisphere. After Michelangelo died, the next chief architect Porta gave the dome a more elongated look.
After Porta died, the next architect, Maderno took over and changed the nave from a small Greek cross design to a Latin cross. It was feared that the small cross design would not be big enough for major papel processions and liturgies. The left and right wings shown here form the "arms" of the cross. The interior of the church can hold 60,000 people.

The focal point of the basilica is St. Peter's baldachin, a large canopy located at the center of the cross and directly under the dome. It was built directly over St. Peter's tomb. A new architect, Bernini, completed the 95 foot altar in 1634. If one enlarges the picture, the dark structure in the "golden" background is the symbolic Chair of St. Peter.
Again if one enlarges the picuture, what is seen under the canopy is the High Altar where only the Pope may hold Mass.
To the right of the altar is an ancient fifth century statue of St. Peter, portrayed as he gives a blessing and preaches. His left hand is holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  

Pilgrims who come to the Basilica traditionally touch and kiss its foot, so that the right toe is literally worn thin. In the Middle Ages pilgrims who reached Rome, touched and kissed the foot of the statue and prayed to St. Peter asking that he be merciful and open the gates of heaven for them if they died during the pilgrimage.

Behind the statue, there is what seems to be a fine brocade drape, however, it is actually a mosaic.

Out of sequence, but before a beautiful tour of the basilica, St. Peter and the Pope's are buried or entombed in the grotto and upstairs in the main cathedral. Usually, when a Pope is canonized, his body is entombed in the upper area. Pictured is the "new" entrance to the grotto.
Pope Boniface VIII d. 1303 mable crypt

Pope Nicholas V d. 1455

"Modern" entombment.

Now for a pleasant stroll through the basilica.

 Pope Benedict XV d. 1922. Best known for his efforts to end WW I.

As we were leaving, I couldn't resist one more shot of St. Peter's dome.

1 comment:

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