St. Peter's Basilica
By Catholic Digest Staff
One of the highlights of Catholic Digest’s Shrines of Italy and Shroud of Turin pilgrimage is, of course, the audience with the pope in Rome. St. Peter’s Basilica is the heart of the Church. It is packed with history, art, and stunning architecture that you will witness as part of the journey with Catholic Digest.
The story of St. Peter’s Basilica began in 324 AD, when Constantine ordered its construction. The intent was to create a place for St. Peter’s tomb, which would be placed in the center of the building. The building itself was consecrated in 329 AD. The four-sided portico (which corresponds to the modern atrium) in front of the Basilica was known as “Paradise.”
When you first enter the Basilica, you can see Michelangelo’s famous Pietà, a work the artist completed when he was only 24 years old.
Michelangelo also designed the dome of the Basilica. Upon his death in 1564 when he was 89, construction was not yet complete. His student, Giacomo Della Porta, took over the project, resulting in the familiar dome that served as a model for others in Western culture (including the White House).
Architect Carlo Maderno designed the facade of the building. The original was completed in 1614, and the modern restoration ended in 1999.
Another gem found in the Basilica is St. Peter’s Treasury, commissioned by Pope Julius II (who at the time was Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere) in 1493. This holds ornaments, statues, and other artifacts.
St. Peter’s Basilica is 187 meters long, 58 meters wide in the aisles, 140 meters wide at the transepts, and 46 meters high at the tallest part of the nave (about 15 stories high). Inside, you’ll find monuments, statues, and works that are hundreds of years old.
Don’t forget to spend time in St. Peter’s Square, a location that continues to inspire Catholics around the world. The Shrines of Italy and Great Cathedrals of Italy Tour wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Vatican Museum. To learn more about the Basilica or the Vatican’s museums and gardens, go to VaticanState.va.
To sign up for Catholic Digest’s The Shroud of Turin and Shrines of Italy Tour, read here for more details and contact Susan Prendergast at 800-842-4842 or firstname.lastname@example.org.