St.Peter's Basilica

Any tourist to Rome cannot ward off the temptation of visiting the attraction known as Basilica di San Pietro (in Italian) and St. Peter's Basilica (in English) that stands out as one of the ideal. De facto, there is so much to view at St. Peter's, you could spend an entire day at this place and still desire to come back again. Of the several buildings in Vatican City, St. Peter's basilica is one of the most famous and most frequently visited by tourists to Rome.

History of St. Peter’s Basilica

The popular myth says that Saint Peter is buried here but that legend is not substantiated by evidence. The actual history of the location of St. Peter's Basilica is that it is probably located on the actual Circus of Nero from the first century.

The historic Christian Roman leader Constantine was the one who directed that a basilica be erected on this place in the fourth century. That erection actually executed 1000 years prior to the construction of St. Peter's.

In the sixteenth century almost 1200 years later, Pope Leo X pushed funds from his appeal to the masses and instructed to go to holy war against the Turks. Those funds were clandestinely used in the building of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

St.Peter’s Basilica

St.Peter’s Basilica Information

St.Peter’s Basilica Basic Information
Location Vatican City
Geographic Coordinates 41°54′8″N 12°27′12″E
Affiliation Roman Catholic
Year Consecrated 1626
Ecclesiastical or Organizational Status Major basilica
St.Peter’s Basilica Architectural Description
Architect(s) Donato Bramante

Antonio da Sangallo the Younger
Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola
Giacomo della Porta
Carlo Maderno
Gianlorenzo Bernini

Architectural Style Renaissance and Baroque
Groundbreaking 1506
Completed 1626
St.Peter’s Basilica Specifications
Length 730 feet (220 m)
Width 500 feet (150 m)
Height (max) 452 feet (138 m)
Dome dia. (outer) 137.7 feet (42.0 m)
Dome dia. (inner) 136.1 feet (41.5 m)

Structure of St. Peter’s Basilica

St. Peter's is a tall structure even by sixteenth century parameters. From the floor to the very peak of the cross on that famous dome above, the basilica stands 445 feet high in the air. That dome is an honorable part of the Roman skyline and it is a fabulous architectural design all in itself. None other than Michelangelo designed the great dome and that famous Renaissance artist facilitated a double-shell design technique that was developed by San Gallo.

Even though Michelangelo worked as the architect St. Peter's in 1546, the completion of the masterpiece took long after his death. With the death of the great master, one of his students, Giacomo della Porta took the liability to complete the work in 1590. The design drafts of the brilliant architects of St. Peter's were frequently facilitated in other great buildings, encompassing the Capital Building in Washington.

That dome was a long lasting design and it wasn't until 200 years later that the first cracks appeared in the surface. To restrain these cracks from doing any more harm, four huge chains of iron were linked to inner part of the shell.

Vastness of St. Peter’s Basilica

That classic dome is not there in St. Peter's Basilica to see. The interior space of the basilica contains six acres and it can accommodate 60,000 worshipers. And there have been various occasions where it was called upon to accommodate that many people.

The outer facade of the basilica is equally large, standing at 148 feet high and 377 feet wide, and there are several statues standing outside of the building as well.

The St. Peter’s basilica also hosts almost 100 tombs of renowned figures from history. You can experience the history in your vicinity, encompassing the tomb of Queen Christina of Sweden. History explains that she abandoned her royal crown in 1654 just to come to Rome and become a convert to Catholicism.

Michelangelo’s Pieta

Undoubtedly the most revered and invaluable art work in the basilica is Michelangelo's Pieta. It can be seen placed under protective glass after a lunatic attacked it with an axe in 1972.

Old Clocks

You can also see several ancient old clocks including one that has a bell and which dates back to the last days of the thirteenth century. From that time period, an Egyptian design obelisk stands close to it, the origin of which goes back to Nero's Circus.

A trip to Rome would of totally complete without sparing at least a couple of hours to visit St. Peter's Basilica at your leisure time, taking in the majesty of this mesmerizing depiction of this outstanding architecture from the Renaissance period of history.

Impact on Roman Catholic Church Architecture

The design of St. Peter's Basilica has immensely affected church architecture in Western Christendom. As the spiritual pedestal of the Roman Catholic Church, St. Peter's Basilica has worked as a model for several remarkable Roman Catholic churches and Basilicas. Some of the most important examples are St. Josaphat’s Basilica, St. Mary of the Angels in Chicago in Milwaukee, Immaculate Heart Heart of Mary in Pittsburgh, as well as the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro.

Archpriests of Saint Peter’s Basilica Since 1053

List of archpriests of the Vatican Basilica

  • Giovanni (1053)
  • Deusdedit (1092)
  • Azzo (1103–1104)
  • Rustico de' Rustici (ca. 1128–1131?)
  • Griffone (1138–1139)
  • Pietro (ca.1140?–1144)
  • Bernard (1145?–1176?)
  • Giovanni da Sutri (1176/78–1180)
  • Ugolino di Segni (ca.1191/1200–1206)
  • Guido Pierleoni (1206/7–1228)
  • Stefano Conti (1229–1254)
  • Riccardo Annibaldi (1254–1276)
  • Giovanni Gaetano Orsini (1276–1277)
  • Matteo Orsini Rosso (1277 or 1288–1305)
  • Napoleone Orsini Frangipani (1306–1342)
  • Annibaldo di Ceccano (1342–1350)
  • Guillaume de La Jugie (1362–1365)
  • Rinaldo Orsini (1366–1374)
  • Hugues de Saint-Martial (1374–1378)
  • Philippe d'Alençon (1378–1397)
  • Cristoforo Maroni (1397–1404)
  • Angelo Acciaioli (1404–1408)
  • Antonio Calvi (1408–1411)
  • Pedro Fernandez de Frias (1412–1420)
  • Antonio Correr (1420–1434)
  • Giordano Orsini (1434–1438)
  • Giuliano Cesarini (1439–1444)
  • Pietro Barbo (1445–1464)
  • Richard Olivier (1464–1470)
  • Giovanni Battista Zeno (1470–1501)
  • Juan López (1501)
  • Ippolito d'Este (1501–1520)
  • Marco Cornaro (1520)
  • Franciotto Orsini (1520–1530)
  • Francesco Cornaro (1530–1543)
  • Alessandro Farnese (1543–1589)
  • Giovanni Evangelista Palotta (1589–1620)
  • Scipione Caffarelli-Borghese (1620–1633)
  • Francesco Barberini (1633–1667)
  • Carlo Barberini (1667–1704)
  • Francesco Nerli (1704–1708)
  • Annibale Albani (1712–1751)
  • Henry Benedict Stuart (1751–1807)
  • Romualdo Braschi-Onesti (1807–1817)
  • Alessandro Mattei (1817–1820)
  • Pietro Francesco Galleffi (6 May 1820 – 18 June 1837)
  • Giacomo Giustiniani (1 July 1837 – 24 February 1843)
  • Mario Mattei (11 March 1843 – 7 October 1870)
  • Niccola Clarelli Parracciani (8 October 1870 – 7 July 1872)
  • Edoardo Borromeo (10 July 1872 – 30 November 1881)
  • Edward Henry Howard (12 December 1881 – 16 September 1892)
  • Francesco Ricci Paracciani (6 October 1892 – 9 March 1894)
  • Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro (21 March 1894& – 16 December 1913)
  • Rafael Merry del Val (12 January 1914 – 26 February 1930)
  • Federico Tedeschini (14 March 1939 – 2 November 1959)
  • Paolo Marella (14 August 1961 – 8 February 1983)
  • Aurelio Sabattani (8 February 1983 – 1 July 1991)
  • Virgilio Noè (1 July 1991 – 24 April 2002)
  • Francesco Marchisano (24 April 2002 – 10 October 2006)
  • Angelo Comastri (10 October 2006 – present)