Beautiful Churches: St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

By The Stream Published on May 29, 2016

St. Peter’s Basilica is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome. It was designed by the greatest architects of its day, including Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Even though it is not the cathedral of Rome (that title belongs to the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran), most Papal ceremonies happen at St. Peter’s Basilica because of its great size and location entirely inside the sovereign jurisdiction of Vatican City.

The Basilica is the burial site of St. Peter, and there has been a church on this site since the time of Constantine. Construction of the present basilica, replacing the Old St. Peter’s Basilica of the 4th century AD, began in 1506 and was not completed until 1626.

The resulting structure is beyond impressive. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, St. Peter’s Basilica is “an ornament of the earth … the sublime of the beautiful.”

Rays at Noon Vatican Int - 900

Crepuscular Rays at Noon in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City

Vatican Pannini Painting Interior - 900

Pannini, 1731 – The Nave of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. This is one of a series of paintings Pannini did of this subject.

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