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12/04/2009

Easter : St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City


As today is Easter day, I found appropriate to post a photo of Saint Peter's Basilica, located in Vatican City. St. Peter's has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people. It is regarded as one of the holiest Christian sites and has been described as "holding a unique position in the Christian world" and as "the greatest of all churches of Christendom". Catholic Tradition, it is the burial site of its namesake Saint Peter, who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus and, according to Tradition, was the first bishop of Antioch, and later first Bishop of Rome, and therefore first in the line of the papal succession. While St. Peter's is the most famous of Rome's many churches, it is not the first in rank, an honour held by the Pope's cathedral, the Basilica of St. John Latheran.
Catholic tradition holds that Saint Peter's tomb is below the altar of the basilica. For this reason, many Popes, starting with the first ones, have been buried there. There has been a church on this site since the 4th century. Construction on the present basilica, over the old Constantinian basilica, began on April 18, 1506 and was completed on November 18, 1626.
One this photo, one can recognise the iconic dome and the façade, designed by Maderno. The façade is 114.69 metres wide and 45.55 metres high and is built of travertine stone, with a giant order of Corinthian columns and a central pediment rising in front of a tall attic surmounted by statues of Christ, John the Baptist, and eleven of the apostles. The inscription on the facade reads:
"IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT VII" (Paul V Borghese, Roman, Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate, erected in honor of the Prince of Apostles) .

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