You could argue about what is the most iconic sight in Rome, with probably most people voting for the Colosseum. But most people would probably also agree that the dome of St. Peter's Basilica, visible from great distances all over Rome, certainly counts as a major symbol of the eternal city. Any visit to Rome should include a visit to this remarkable church.
Looking through a section of the colonnades which encompass St. Peter's Square ~
The colonnades are four columns deep and are topped by 140 statues of saints ~
Another iconic sight. A couple of times I saw Swiss Guards in a solid, dark blue version of this uniform ~
As we are, after all, in front of a church, how appropriate to see this image of purity and piety ~
I eventually joined the throng squinting into the afternoon sun as they shuffled toward the security point to enter St. Peter's ~
The opulence of San Pietro is overwhelming. I haven't been inside since the early 1990's, back when there were not the massive crowds that there are now, nor a security queue. I have known quite a few devout people over the years, including the parents of my Singaporean friends, whose dream was to go to the Vatican before they died. The trouble is that it is now quite easy to go and the place has become overwhelmed.
The interior is of course amazing but the huge piazza in front does not inspire me, even if it is necessary to provide enough space for crowd events.
I agree that it is overwhelming, hardly surprising considering that the completion of the basilica coincided with the high flowering of Italian Baroque. My pictures probably reflect the fact that I mostly looked at things the way one does in a museum, piece by piece, rather than managing to take it in as a whole, which may be impossible.
I also agree that the St. Peter's Piazza is not inspiring, except in the sense of inspiring awe with its size. Really, I found it felt rather sterile and repetitive.
However, I have to say that once inside, it does not feel crowded, due to how large it is -- 15,160 square meters/163,200 square feet, and the way it is broken up into sections. Really, there are often very large spaces that feel completely empty. The security line serves a purpose in slowing down the influx of people. I went late in the day, not that long before it closes at 7 pm, if that had a bearing. I absolutely do not think that people who have a dream of seeing St. Peter's should be put off by the crowds.
After all that talk about space, we will now have a ceiling interlude, starting with this shot showing how the architectural elements seem naturally to reach up to arches and domes ~
The floors are impressive as well, designs in marble in a scale appropriate to the building ~
My Michelangelo luck from Florence held in St. Peter's, when I was one of the few people viewing this famous piece. This is one of those well-known things that turned out to be smaller than I imagined. He carved it when he was only twenty-four ~
Post by cheerypeabrain on Jun 26, 2019 18:13:50 GMT
Whilst I am astonished by the amazing artwork, I am uncomfortable with the wealth on display...especially when a huge proportion of Catholics live in abject poverty. It's the same with any successful institution I supppose, and the argument is probably that the magnificence of the buildings and decoration are some form of worship..I'm not expressing myself very well...it's not like they can sell it off and create world peace/alleviate poverty, sickness and hunger...
The architecture is impressive, beautifully photographed (of course!)
I happened to be travelling throug there to California, a long time ago, and found that far more obnoxious than any Catholic stuff. And at least Catholics can party! Not just booze, Mormons can't drink coffee either.
Not to dismiss what you all are saying, but standing in a historical church and mulling about proper use of religious funds is tantamount to not enjoying the Hall of Mirrors because monarchy is not a good political system. At the time St. Peter's was built, the church held enormous temporal power and the grandeur and pomp reflect that. Just yesterday I bought a book about the Vatican and its ongoing political influence into the 20th century. The book is Prisoner of the Vatican, by David Kertzer. For background, go here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner_in_the_Vatican
I do of course appreciate your attention to this thread, and in fact have also felt that reflexive modern repulsion at so much money expended on religious show. But in the historical context, the religious beliefs and patronage of the Egyptians, the Aztecs, the Europeans, etc. allowed for the flowering of the arts and architecture of their times.
Moving on, this dove motif is recurrent throughout the basilica ~
Here is the dove motif on the entrance to the Altar of St. Jerome, where John XXIII is entombed ~
The embalmed body of John XXIII, his face covered with a wax mask ~
There is a list of popes entombed in St. Peter's ~
The tomb of Innocentius XI is beneath this mosaic reproduction of Raphael's painting, The Transfiguration ~
For pure pomp, you can't beat this tomb Pope Alexander Vii commissioned for himself ~
Quite a few quality photos Bixa! I enjoyed the photo with the sun streaming through and those of the sculpture. It must have been incredible in person. The detail in his works must be overwhelming to try to take in for those fortunate to see his creations.
Thank you, Mich! It really is something in person. These famous places have been reproduced so many times in photos and in movies that you think you know what to expect, but they are quite the revelations in real life.
The tomb of Gregory XIII, who gave us the Gregorian calendar. His history clearly shows how pragmatically popes functioned and rose to power in that era ~
Another Gregory, the XVIth, was unpopular because of his rigid conservatism, opposing democracy, freedom of conscience, and separation of church and state. But he brokered an agreement between the Belgian Catholics and the Dutch King in 1827 and another between the Armenian Catholics and the Ottomans in 1829. source
St. Bruno, founder of the Carthusian order, rejecting the offer of a bishopric. He is also honored with a statue on the piazza's colonnade. more info
Pope Urban VIII's coat of arms, incorporating the bees from his family's coat of arms. Beyond on the right is St. Veronica ~
Fun fact: the bullfight maneuver called a veronica is named after this statue. source
St. Andrew in one of the four big niches holding important relics and the saints associated with them ~
St. Juliana Falconieri, by Paolo Campi, 1740 -- one of thirty-nine statues in St. Peter's honoring founders of religious orders ~
Although he was pope for only twenty months, Pius VIII negotiated civil and religious rights for Catholics with rulers of at least two countries ~
I do not know who this magnificent marble statue depicts ~
The most identifiable feature of St. Peter's Basilica is the baldachino, the four bronze twisted and fluted columns with their bronze canopy over the main altar. If you will go back to the first picture in Reply #1, you will see how dramatically yet perfectly this construction fits into the overall scheme of the church. And to give a graphic idea of the size of St. Peter's, note that those columns are 29 meters high, yet do not seem massive in their location. They are yet another work of the great Bernini. more information
The baldachino is positioned directly under the great dome of St. Peter's ~
The last indoor picture gives a wonderful sense of space. As amazing as the statues, columns and ceilings are, one gets a sense of overload until it can be seen how huge the area really is. I am wondering if they might run out of storage space for dead popes, although I guess that a lot of the remains of the ancient ones have already been consolidated into something the size of a vacuum cleaner bag. I suppose that things get moved around for new arrivals like John Paul II. I doubt if there was a big empty space reserved "just in case."
I think you are correct, Bixa, to remind us of the original purpose of this church and others like it. We tend to look at it from a contemporary point of view, but at the time the papacy was extremely important politically as well as religiously and a church like St Peter's was intended to be an expression of this power.
I used the term "overwhelming" rather negatively, but in fact, I guess that was the whole point of the place. And also to show that the papacy could afford to hire the best artists of the time, like Michelangelo and Bernini, to decorate it.
You are right too to mention the sheer size of those pillars holding up the baldaquin. I remember thinking how enormous it is, yet it is to scale with the size of the church.
When I think about it, I remember the first time I went into St Peter's. The Pietà was moving because of the simplicity of its colour and size within such an extravagant church. At the time, it was in the open but that was before some lunatic attacked it with a hammer.
Wow. I mean I've seen photos before of course, but yours are exceptional. As many times as I've been in Rome, I've still never been there. If it's raining long enough while I am there, I eventually will.
Kerouac, there are tombs underneath St. Peter's where the popes get buried, although it appears the sainted ones get moved into the basilica itself. You are right that they are "consolidated" sometimes, although this list uses the word "combined", which I find less elegant. You can see John XXIII has a free-standing sarcophagus and Gregory the Great has his relics beneath an altar. Thanks for the comment about the last indoor picture. I have found something that really shows off the interior, which I will attach below.
Thank you so much, Bjd. I do wish I could have gotten a little closer to the Pietà, although it's pretty well displayed. Really, putting it behind glass because it's already been attacked doesn't make a great deal of sense, considering all the irreplaceable art and artifacts which are displayed very accessibly in St. Peter's and in museums all over the world.
So kind, Fumobici -- thank you! I was pretty casual about going to see St. Peter's because my apartment was so near it. The evening I arrived in Rome, I walked over to the piazza and got in line just to see how quickly it was moving. Obviously it went quickly enough, as I did go on in. I would go see it again if in Rome, and next time would try to see the subterranean parts, too.
While trying to find out what the heck is done with popes when they die, I stumbled across this video. Yes, it's kind of a puff piece for Osram, but gives stunning views from above of St. Peter's. source
Such opulence so well captured in you fab photos Bixa. The craftsmanship and work involved boggles the mind. I want to reach out and touch the Michelangelo carving which I think is more beautiful given its relative simplicity within the surroundings.
I believe Bjd mentioned something similar about the Pietà, Lugg. It's a lovely thought and it made something else about it occur to me. Besides protecting it from madmen with hammers, the statue probably needs to be protected from the pious. Quite often religious statues suffer from the compulsion some of the faithful seem to have to touch and rub those statues.
You are always so kind, dear Cheery! You know you can do no wrong in my book.