St. Peter's Dome

St. Peter's Dome

early morning sunlight

St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square

There always is a buzz of tourists and pilgrims filling the square

The interior of St. Peter's Basilica

The interior of St. Peter's Basilica

Photo copied from "The Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican" 

Inside St. Peter's

Inside St. Peter's

People come from all over the world 

Clementine Chapel with Raphael's Transfiguration

Clementine Chapel with Raphael's Transfiguration

 Raphael's original painting (oil on canvas) of the Transfiguration is now on display in the Pinacoteca. This version was made from semi precious hard stone mosaic in the eighteenth century and retains all the fluid grace of the original. 

St. Peter's interior

St. Peter's interior

The vast proportions of the Basilica are majestic, constantly enlivened by the changing light which ignites the marble and precious stones, glowing with awesome brilliance. 

One of the "Virtues" of the nave

One of the "Virtues" of the nave

Every where you look vistas open up and alignments form juxtaposing different elements creating an ever changing  sculptural  narrative

Mother and Daughter learning the ropes

Mother and Daughter learning the ropes

This charming young mother and daughter team are standing in front of  Michaelangelo's famous Pieta. Their electrical umbilical cord is an interesting comment on 21st century relationships. 

The Dove of Peace, The Point of the Mattter

The Dove of Peace, The Point of the Mattter

Bernini's  exuberant host of angels glorifying the dove of peace which hovers above the Cathedra  of St. Peter. On the viewers's right can be glimpsed the sturdy forearm and pointing finger of Elijah by Agostino Cornacchini,  1727

Floor vent in St Peter's

Floor vent in St Peter's


St Peter's Basilica is in many ways a huge funerary monument marking the time and place of various grandees of ecclesiastic and secular renown. This cast bronze floor vent commemorates Pius the XII from the second year of his pontificate, 1940.  I don't know the function of this grill, my best guess is to let light or air in or out of crypts below.  In our home growing up we had cast iron grills in the floor allowing forced hot air to heat our home. Where as Pius XII did issue forth some hot topics of debate, it is doubtful that he radiated any degree of benevolent warmth, so the function of his grill is a mystery. 

St Ignatius Loyola

St Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius' open book declares, "For the greater glory of God and the salvation of humanity." It would appear that the message here is, Get outta my way or be trampled underfoot. I am not sure how glorious that is but he who has stumbled, looks to be in a jam. 

St Peter wearing Papal raiment

St Peter wearing Papal raiment

When we arrived on the scene in the Basilica, the bronze statue of St. Peter was all decked out in Triple tiara and draped with Pontifical regalia.  I'm a sucker for big bearded men in robes and jewels so I dashed over to take a look. As far as my researches tell me the "dressed" statue on February 18th, 2015 was to cerebrate The Feast of The Chair of St. Peter which apparently is to commemorate Peter's stay in Antioch and his founding of the church there. 

St. Peter in Glory

St. Peter in Glory

The full picture 

Angels and putti crowning the Baldacchino

Angels and putti crowning the Baldacchino

Here is Gian Lorenzo Bernini's fantastic bronze entablature that suspends the canopy over the high altar of St. Peter's. 1624-1635 The bronze used by Bernini for this extravagant sculpture was provided by Pope Urban VIII, the most prominent member of the powerful Barberini family. The metal was  taken from the portico of the ancient Roman Pantheon inspiring one wag of the time to quip, "Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt barberni" or What the barbarians did not do the Barberini did. 

Baldacchino

Baldacchino

Looking through the pillars of the Baldacchino you can see the "Gloria," a host of angels hovering  around  the dove of peace, symbol of the Holy Spirit soaring above the "Cattedra Petri." or Peter's throne.  

High Altar of St Peter's Basilica

High Altar of St Peter's Basilica

Baldacchino Beneath the dome of St Peter's

Baldacchino Beneath the dome of St Peter's

Solomonic pillar of the Baldaccino

Solomonic pillar of the Baldaccino

The four "Solomonic" columns supporting the Baldaccino or canopy stand 66 feet high. The distinctive twisted design is inspired by a set of marble columns brought to Rome by Emperor Constantine which were said to be from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem . Pope Urban VII commissioned Bernini in 1623 to create this most important monument that marks both the place of St. Peter's grave and the high altar of the Basilica.    

 

 

 

 

St Mark

St Mark

 St Mark is one of the four apostles whose image decorate the transept above the baldacchino and high altar. He is  seen here on one of  the spandrels supporting Michelangelo's dome. The picture is a mosaic made from semi precious stones and glass. Roman mosaics for St Peters are produced and maintained at the famous Vatican mosaic studio in Vatican City. 

The lion seems to be thinking, "So when is Mr. Mark gonna stop dilly dallying and write his story? My head is aching, this guy weighs a ton!" 

St. Veronica

St. Veronica

Now here is one lively lady who speaks of action. The pious St. Veronica who famously captured Christ's image when she lent him her veil to mop his sweating brow as he struggled along the Via Dolorosa on his way to Golgotha, the place of the skull. 

The name Veronica derives from the Latin, vera icona meaning, true icon or image. The all important issue here is the assertion that the veil is a sacred relic giving us the actual image of Jesus. 

The imposing statue created by Francesco Mochi in 1629 was always controversial because of its overly theatrical posture and the strong wind blowing Veronica's dress so that it clings to her sturdy frame. This expression of vitality and urgent action was an intentional imperative of the Baroque style created to enact the revitalization of the Roman Catholic church during the counter reformation.  

It is interesting that beneath Veronica's pier was the place that Pope Julius II laid the first stone of the new Basilica of St Peter in April 18, 1506.  The actual relic of Veronica's veil is kept in a chapel embedded into the pier above Mochi's statue. In my photograph you can see the entrance to that chapel flanked by two Solomonic columns preserved from the original Basilica of St Peter. These Helical or twisted columns are said to have been brought back from Jerusalem by Emperor Constantine and were understood to have been from the Original Temple of Solomon.  

The level of historic  continuity in architectural juxtaposition and authority asserted by the actual relic illustrated by the statue but hidden in the sanctum sanctorum  is an intentional message of the eternal and invulnerable  "Church" 

 

King David

King David

A beautiful mosaic of King David with his harp

Elijah

Elijah

Here we see Agostino Cornacchini's statue of Elijah, 1727. Elijah lifts  his sturdy arm pointing his finger towards the  Dove of the Holy Spirit hovering above St. Peter's throne. The dove is the point of the matter, which is  the intention of spiritual evolution to progress towards a gentle expression of peace and love. Thus the prophet directs our attention towards the ultimate goal and is in himself an expression of the beginning and the end. 

Elijah's swirling beard whipped by furious winds and the flaming wheel that he rests his blazing sword on are references to his ascension to heaven accompanied by a vision of a flaming chariot that appeared before he was carried up on a whirlwind. 

St Peter's Basilica, The Cattedra Petri

St Peter's Basilica, The Cattedra Petri

We are looking straight on to the sculptural group called the Cattedra Petri which is surmounted by the golden "Glory," a host of angels hovering around a vision of the Holy Spirit  revealed to us here as the Dove of Peace. The entire ensemble is the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The Cattedra Petri or throne of Peter is held aloft by St. Ambrose, St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine - all four Saints cast in bronze and twice life size. St Peter's throne is also cast of bronze and contains the actual historic throne thought to have been actually used by Peter. However, modern scholarship has subsequently attributed this ancient wooden artifact to be of Carolingian workmanship from the 9th century. 

St Peter's Basilica, The Cattedra Petri

St Peter's Basilica, The Cattedra Petri

A closer view 

St Peter's Basilica, St Longinus

St Peter's Basilica, St Longinus

St Peter's Basilica, The Annunciation

St Peter's Basilica, The Annunciation

This highly gilded bas-relief sculpture depicts the moment when the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she has been chosen by God to give birth to the Messiah, Jesus. Above them the Holy Spirit,  symbolized as the Dove of Peace, appears in a burst of light. In the background can be glimpsed Adam and Eve whose original sin is now expiated by Mary's consent,  "Behold the handmaid of the lord, be it done to me according to thy word."

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

The immense  proportions and extraordinary iconographic    embellishment of the Basilica is hard to grasp. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Who is watching who?  The animation of the decorative elements exude a palpable presence. The Basilica is alive with  the story of Christianity. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Monument commemorating Pope Innocent XII, 1691-1700 sculpted by Filppo Della Valle, 1746

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Monument to Maria Clementina Sobieska ,1702-1735 sculpted by  Filippo Barigioni 1739 finished by Pietro Bracci 1742. Maria Clementina was  the granddaughter of John III Sobieski king of Poland and became the wife of James Francis Edward Stuart, Jacobite pretender to the English throne . Maria and James were protected in Rome by Pope Clement XI and Innocent XIII and considered by the church to be the rightful Catholic king and Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Monument to Maria Clementina Sobieska, 1702 - 1735 sculpted by Filippo Bargioni 1735 finished by Pietro Bracci 1742

 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

 This picture  was originally painted by Cristoforo Roncalli and translated into mosaic in the 18th century. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Funerary monument to Pius VIII  1829-1830, sculpted by Pietro Giuseppe Albani 1866

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

One of the domes over a side aisle of the nave

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

My Leo posing with their Leo, in this case Pope Leo XI, a Medici  Pope whose papacy lasted barely  a month, but made up for it with this swell monument. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Handsome, elaborate coffering highligted by golden lighting

St Peter' Basilica

St Peter' Basilica

The dove of peace with an olive twig is, of course, the bird that Noah sent forth from the arch to see if the dry land had reappeared and therefore the flood had ended and the waters receded. This symbol is also the Pope's Pamphili family devise. Here we find the dove  decorating a pier of the nave of St. Peter's commemorating Pope Innocent X.  

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

Dome of the North Aisle over the Chapel of St Sebastian 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Soaring arches reach for heaven

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Flying "Virtues" 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Pointing towards the Star

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica


Portrait of St Peter in mosaic 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Domes, and lunettes seen from the roof of the Basilica. I knew I was really in Rome when I came across a well stocked gift shop tucked into the tiled eaves of the Basilica roof and a coffee shop offering cappuccino and delicious cornetti.  

St Peter's Basilica, Piazza San Pietro

St Peter's Basilica, Piazza San Pietro

I took this photo from the Cupola crowning Michelangelo's dome. Castel San Angelo is in the middle distance with the  Apennine mountains clearly visible on this February afternoon. 

Across Rome

Across Rome

Another amazingly clear view across Rome as seen from the cupola of St Peter's 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

On the roof of the cupola are several small windos with lead coverings  inscribed Leo XIII, 1879. Below can be glimpsed  a corner of the Vatican Gardens. 

View from the Cupola of St Peter's

View from the Cupola of St Peter's

Looking out over  Vatican City, in the foreground is the Palazzo del Governatorato, 1930, with more of  the gardens beyond. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

The Swiss Guard wearing  winter cloaks 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Leo takes these nifty panoramas with his Iphone. Here is the Basilica straight on 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter himself much larger than life standing gurard in Piazza San Pietro 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

The Vatican Obelisk was brought to Rome in 37 CE and moved to the center of Piazza San Pietro in 1585 by Pope Sixtus V.

Piazza San Pietro

Piazza San Pietro

A few of Bernini's band of worthies atop the Colonnade that holds Piazza San Pietro firmly in it's grasp 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Architectural punctuation 

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

The gleaming collonade has been recently scrubed as has the entire Basilica and the results are dazzeling. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

One of the more dignified Japanese visitors to St Peter's

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

The full sweep of the left arm of  Berninni's colonnade 

St Peters Basilica

St Peters Basilica

By comparison to the people you can get an idea of the enormous scale of the colonnade which is dwarfed by the Basilica. Each column is quarried from a single stone. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Behind the colonnade, tucked into a space beside the Leonine Wall is this white marble fountain decorated with triple tiaras of the Pope and St Peter's keys to heaven. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

Looking down through the double spiral staircase designed by Giuseppe Momo, 1932. This was the intended entrance to the Vatican Museums but is now only an exit route. 

St Peter's Basilica

St Peter's Basilica

This large fountain  accents the area of the Vatican garden between the Pinacoteca and the Carriage Museum. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

Antonio and Bartolomeo Vivarini 1464

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

Christ in Glory by Correggio 1523

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

Iory and Pope Clement IX by Carlo Marata

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

Bartolomeo Sacchi kneeling, to the left, Giovanni della Rovere and Girolomo Riaro nephews of Pope Sixtus IV. Investiture of Bartolomeo Sacchi as  first librarian of the the Vatican library by Sixtus IV, seated, painted by  Melozo da Forli 1477

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

The Annunciation, Cerchia di Almerico di Ventura, 1524

Carriage Museum at the Vatican

Carriage Museum at the Vatican

Two sedan chairs, If I were Pope I would be carried around in one these faboo conveyances and certainly not that awful Pope-mobile!

Vatican Carriage Museum

Vatican Carriage Museum

Now here is a dignified way to travel. 

Vatican Carriage Museum

Vatican Carriage Museum

And here is the actual gold carriage, so what's the idea of riding around in a Jeep? In this manner Queen Elizabeth has the right idea, go for gold!

Vatican Carriage Museum

Vatican Carriage Museum

If you must wear a uniform at least let it include jewels and feathers and certainly not camouflage fatigues!!  

Vatican Carriage Museum

Vatican Carriage Museum

Two golden Putti  holding  aloft the triple tiara of the Pope on the back side of the aforeseen carriage 

Vatican Carriage Museum

Vatican Carriage Museum

The door knob of the Pope's Citroen Lictoria C6 

Vatican Carriage Museum

Vatican Carriage Museum

In front, Citroen Lictoria C6, 1930,  behind Daimler Mercedes Benz, 1930. If one must travel in an automobile then this is definitely the way to go. 

Sculpture Gallery

Sculpture Gallery

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

A festive bunch of Romans on their way rejoicing. I think this might actually be the front of a sarcophagus, who knows, they certainly don't appear to be awfully downcast.  

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

I think this may actually be a man,, isn't he lovely? 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

A wee snip-it from one of the enormous maps in the hall of maps. I seem to have captured an image of Christopher Columbus embarking for the new world aided and abetted by Neptune. 

Vatican museums

Vatican museums

This ceiling fresco caught my eye as a cautionary lesson to watch out and not rile the Big Guy. It is only now that I see the caption above, "Able Et Cain Sacr" why am I not surprised that those two are the cause of an almighty uproar? 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

Here are a whole bunch of celestial beings floating around the ceiling in a grand manner. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

A Papal window shutter and ain't it one humdinger? I love the light on the exquisite carvings and marquetry.  

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

It would seem that here the Pope has arrived on the  scene with Peter and Paul floating above and brandishing swords. Apparently he was  not someone to mess with.   

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

If you can believe it, this is a small detail, albeit aprox. 12 X 8 feet square, of a mural surrounding a large room. 

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

And here is the larger picture of the preceding. 

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

detail of an ancient sarcophagus carved from porphyry quarried in Egypt. 

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

This is actually a plaster copy of the famous Laocoon. conveniently located in the entryway to the museum complex.   The original is so corralled by selfie mad tourists that there is no prayer in hell that you can view the thing with any degree of peace and quiet. Since the sculpture is intended to be the definitive expression of human agony perhaps this ignominious fate is appropriate.  

The statue of Laocoön and His Sons (ItalianGruppo del Laocoonte), also called the Laocoön Group, has been one of the most famous ancient sculptures ever since it was excavated in Rome in 1506 and placed on public display in the Vatican.  Laocoon was the Trojan priest depicted with his sons Antiphantes and Thymbraeus being attacked by sea serpents. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

There are seemingly endless hallways lined with ancient sculptures. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

This seems like a remarkable bunch of secular fellows to be gracing the Vatican hallways. Perhaps the Pope and his cohorts should take a close look at these affectionate companions and learn how to be more at peace with love in all its forms. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

Isn't there some silly idea that there are no women painters? This beauty seems to belie that idea. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

I am very fond of Herculean brawn and here we have a pensive expression of that hero. 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

This young man seems to invite conversation. 

Vatican Musems

Vatican Musems

This is the  divine Antinous, beloved by Hadrian. So if the full expression of Gay love is an anathema  to Catholicism why is this beauty here? Most especially after he was proclaimed a God by his lover. 

Vatican Museum

Vatican Museum

A line up of Heroes and Goddesses 

Vatican Museums

Vatican Museums

Purple porphyry and white marble 

St Peter's Dome

St Peter's Dome

looking from the Vatican Garden at the dome