Tuesday, 17 January 2012

St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican


 According to Jesus Christ, "And I say also unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it."  Matthew 16:18


St. Peter's Basilica is the burial place of St. Peter,one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ. On this Hill, at Vatican Hill, St. Peter was buried  after he was crucified upside down. The Egyptian Obelisk in the middle of St. Peter's Square with the Cross on top. The Cross holds a relic of the Cross of Jesus Christ from his Cruxifiction.



St. Peter's Basilica, the Centre of  "One Holy Catholic And Apostolic Faith." The Vatican  is an independent State, the smallest State in the World, with the Pope as Head of State and the Head of the Roman Catholic Church.


St Peter's Square designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In the Centre is the nearly 2,000 years old Egyptian Obelisk which is a symbol of the "silent witness" of St. Peter's martyrdom. Then there are  symmetrical fountains on each side of the obelisk.  "Bernini completed this Square under the pontificate of Alexander VII between 1656 and 1667. The ellipse is comprised of two semicircles joined by a central rectangular area. Bernini chose to close off the curved part of the square with an imposing colonnade in the Doric order."


St. Peter's Basilica is so huge that it can be seen from a distance. It is a long walk to the Basilica.  I suggest One full day just to visit The Vatican, The Vatican Museum with the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.


The Apostolic Palace is the Pope's residence at The Vatican.




 On the Left is the Statue of St. Peter with the Swiss Guards in their rain gear guarding the main entrance to the Main Altar where the Pope performed Mass. On the Right is the Statue of St. Paul, not an Apostle but he holds an Honorary stature in the spread of Christianity in the World.


Pope Benedict XVI presiding over Mass during the Canonization of the Founder of the Religious of the Assumption, St. Marie Eugenie Milleret. My friend and I were very blessed to be able to attend the 4 hour mass together with the Assumption Communities around the World. It rained the whole 4 hours. It was amazing that the  people from around the World including the dignitaries all stayed to attend this Religious ceremony. It was a surreal experience.

The Canonization  Mass of the four new Saints.  The seats on the right of the Main Altar are for the VIPS - Royalty, Head of States and Diplomats.

Swiss Guards guarding the entrance to the Bronze Door.

"The Bronze Door which was the entrance to the Vatican Palaces at the time of Pope Paul V, was placed by Bernini at the end of Constantine's Portico."


Inside  St. Peter's Basilica

If  Bernini designed the St. Peter's Square, then the Great Florentine Artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti designed most of the interior of St. Peter's Basilica. All I can say is that the Basilica is  grand, majestic, divine, extravagant and spectacular! It was created for the Glory of God!

Typical of any Catholic Church, in the entrance is the huge container for Holy Water. But in the Basilica, here is a huge basin for the Holy Water guarded by huge sculptures of Angels. My mother loves this Sculpture that she noticed it right away when she entered the Basilica.

The Bronze statue of St.Peter. The pilgrims can actually touch the foot of the statue to honour and pray to  St. Peter.

Michelangelo's  "Pieta" depicting Mother Mary holding the dead body of her son, Jesus Christ.


"The Pieta was carved out of a single block of Carrara marble by Michelangelo, who added his signature and the adjective 'florentino' to the Madonna's sash...Michelangelo's classical training is revealed in the perfect proportions of the life-size bodies and their relationship to each other, the youthful yet timeless faces, and the Virgin Mary's expression of calm, mournful resignation."


The cupola (the dome) was designed by Donato Bramante but completed by Michelangelo after the death of Bramante. The scenes depict the circles of Paradise with God the Father at the summit. Visitors can actually climb the stairs all the way up to the balcony of the cupola to view the whole Basilica down.

Underneath the Cupola with God the Father at the summit is the Main Altar and the Baldachin(Canopy).
"The bronze Baldachin, which is 29 meters high not including the cross is the work of Bernini, who finished it in 1633." Then underneath the Main Altar is the burial place of St. Peter, known as the "Necropolis." It is said that the Necropolis is almost 7 stories down. Only the Pope with his Cardinals can go down there and not open to the Public.

Cathedra of St Peter in Glory. This is a small chapel behind the Main Altar. It has the picture glass of the Holy Spirit which is always illuminated by the Sunlight and provides a Holy light presence in the Basilica. This was designed by Bernini in the Baroque style.


Here is one of the gigantic statues inside the Basilica. This is St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine I. She was the one who brought the Holy Cross,  Last Supper Table, Nativity relic and other religious relics from Jerusalem all the way to Rome.


 The Basilica is also the burial place for Popes. Here is one of the burial place of one the Popes.



St. Peter's Basilica is the centre of the Roman Catholic Faith. It shows the Glory and Majesty of God but it was also built for mankind to remind us that this is where martyrdom occurred and where the Roman Catholic faith started.  The Vatican is known as "the smallest state in the world at the centre of the largest spiritual kingdom."  The Basilica is  a place of worship for Catholics. UNESCO defined the Vatican as "the artistic patrimony of all mankind."  The 15th Century Humanist scholar Emanuele Crisolora cried about the Vatican "it's not earth, but a piece of the sky,"



Source: Vatican City, Edizioni Musei Vaticani

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