On Friday I Went to St. Peter’s

I’d been wanting to visit St. Peter’s since we arrived in Rome, but the crowds in August were so overwhelming that I kept putting it off. I noticed on a couple of my walks that the security lines were pretty short early in the morning, so last Friday I arrived a little after 8 and, ta-da, no line!

According to Wikipedia, the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter “has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world. While it is neither the official mother church of the Roman Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the pope as Bishop of Rome, Saint Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic sites. It has been described as ‘holding a unique position in the Christian world’ and as ‘the greatest of all churches of Christendom.’” It is the burial place of St. Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles and the first Bishop of Rome.

A basilica has occupied the site of St. Peter’s since the fourth century. Construction on the present structure began in April 1506 and was completed in November 1626. The basilica is shaped like a cross, and the interior and exterior spaces are dominated by one of the largest domes in the world. The interior is one of the most lavish spaces in the world, with marble, bronze, ivory, and gilding everywhere. Many famous artists worked on St. Peter’s, including Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Divinity students praying at the tomb of John Paul VI

On Friday the basilica was fairly empty when I was there. A flock of excited divinity students fluttered about the church, praying at the tomb of John Paul II (who wore his famous red shoes!) and snapping photos of any thing that wasn’t moving. They were so cute and so thrilled to be in St. Peter’s. They were lucky, because people of religion were permitted behind the barriers that kept us commoners quite far away from the major works of art. I was so jealous!

I’ve been to St. Peter’s a few times, but this time was really different. Visitors are no longer allowed to get close to the many famous pieces of art. Michelangelo’s Pieta had barriers so far in front of it that I could barely see it! In addition to the barriers, it was surrounded by bulletproof acrylic glass. And forget getting close to Bernini’s exquisite Tomb of Alexander VII. Visitors can no longer enter many of the chapels in St. Peter’s, I’m sad to say, but there’s still plenty to see.

Here are lots of photos. I don’t have a good photo of the outside, though, so I’ll have to return soon.

Ceiling near the center of the basilica

Bronze statue of St. Peter – one of my favorite pieces of art in St. Peter’s

Bernini’s baldacchino – stands beneath the dome and above the altar

St. Veronica

Chair of St. Peter (Cathedri Petri)

Bernini’s Tomb of Alexander VII – incredible, but you can’t really see it anymore

Detail at the bottom of Michelangelo’s dome

I don’t remember who this is, but I like him!

Putti (cherubs)

Dome on the south side of the basilica

I don’t know what this is, but isn’t it beautiful?

Stunning marble floors

Exit door (NOT the Holy Door)

Waiting for the Papal blessing in St. Peter’s Square

Colonnades, four columns deep, surrounding St. Peter’s Square

Madonna mosaic looking down from the Papal residence onto St. Peter’s Square



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4 Responses to On Friday I Went to St. Peter’s

  1. Chris Windheuser says:

    For those we don’t want to wait in lines -if you book a tour of the crypt (supposed burial spot of St Peter) you can go right into the Basilica after the tour.

  2. skdyer7 says:

    Thanks, Chris. And don’t forget to wear close-toed shoes (no sandals) and cover your shoulders.

  3. Ed Mackan says:

    Sue, I have been enjoying your tour of Rome. It is apparent you are a lover of seafood, olives, and wine. I noticed in your last posting regarding St. Peters that people of religion are able to be closer to the points of history and interest. Maybe Rome is the placed to get religion so you can get inside the ropes. Its a beautiful day here in Richland, with an expected high of 93F.

  4. skdyer7 says:

    Ha! Now there’s a plan. YOU get religion and you can get us all in. I think that would work better!!! Have you got your tickets yet?

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