Sunday, June 17, 2012

St. Peter's Church, Vatican

One of the most impressive churches that i ever visited was the St. Peter's Cathedral in the Vatican. The church is located in the St. Peter in Vatican and a very interesting and long history. Almost 2000 years ago St. Peter, 30 years after the death of Lord Jesus, St. Peter was crucified in Rome. He was crucified upside down at his request because he didn't think himself worthy enough to die like his master. After his death he was buried near the Vatican Hill. His grave became the place of pilgrimage for the new Christians. A shrine was build there for the pilgrims. Then Emperor Constantine build a basilica over the shrine. Later on the St. Peter's Cathedral was build instead of the Constantine's Basilica. 

Before visiting the St. Peter's Cathedral you will for sure first visit the St. Peter's Square in the Vatican. As we walked on the large cobbled stone street toward the Square we met hundreds of other tourists with cameras just like us and a lot of the so called helpers who try to sell you visits inside the Church. Don't  accept it and don't buy anything from the souvenir stands, everything is much more expensive then inside of the Vatican library or souvenir shops. 

On the way to the Vatican

Entrance to the St. Peter's Square

As we entered the Square between the tall thin columns  my heart was pounding like crazy. Then my eyes suddenly fell on the large cobble stoned square, the two big fountains, the beautiful St. Peter's Church and the many hundreds of statues here and there, the colonnades surrounding the square. It happened so fast that i just couldn't believe that i am really in the St. Peter's Square. The sound of the fountains and the tourists talk was like a dream and i was so happy.

 St. Peter's Square

 St. Peter's Square

The colonnades are going around the square like two arcs representing the two arms of the Catholic Church welcoming the believers. 

Colonnades in the St. Peter's Square, the queue to the entrance in the St. Peter's Church

Queue to the entrance to the St. Peter's Church after one hour of staying in line

In the middle of the Square there is an Obelisk, which is called the witness. It is said that it was in the Circus of Nero and it was near it that St. Peter was crucified, so it was moved inside of the St. Peter's square. 

The Obelisk in the middle of the St. peter's Square

The Obelisk in front of the St. Peter's Square

On the right and left of the Obelisk there are two fountains, first one was made by Maderno and the second was made by Bernini in order to match the first one. The pavement is made of cobble stones and there are white lines on the ground made to respect the way the shadow falls from the Obelisk at certain hours of the day.

One of the famous fountains

Second fountain

The whole square is full of statues on top of the colonnades and the Church.

 Statues in the Vatican on top of the Colonnades

 Statues in the Vatican

The most impressive thing in the whole Square is the of course the St. Peter's Church, immense and beautiful build on the spot where St. Peter was buried 2000 years ago. In order to visit the St. Peter's Basilica you have to stand in line to be checked just like in an airport, you also need to be decently dressed, no short trousers or dresses and no uncovered shoulders. Also you must not have upon you sharp objects like knifes and umbrellas. If you want to avoid a very long queue don't go to Rome in the middle of the summer and try to get to the St. Peter's Square early in the morning. We stayed around one hour in the queue. The facade of the Church was designed by Maderno. It is formed by immense colonnades and on top there are 13 statues: Jesus with 11 apostles and John the Baptist. The statue of St. Peter is not up on the building but the church is flanked by the statues of St. Peter on one side and St. Paul on the other. The inscription on the facade says: IN HONOREM PRINCIPIS APOST PAVLVS V BVRGHESIVS ROMANVS PONT MAX AN MDCXII PONT V which means Paul V Borghese,Supreme Roman Pontiff, in the year 1612, the seventh of his pontificate, erected in honor of the Prince of Apostles.

 The facade of the St. Peter's Church

The Dome was designed and build and redesigned by many artists of the time including Michelangelo and Giacomo de la Porta. The Dome is visible from all the Vatican, and it is also reining over a great part of Rome. St. Peter is one of the greatest and loved Church of the Christianity and here the Pope is celebrating a lot of Holly Masses. 

 The Dome of the St. Peter's Church

We walked towards the church and we passed the statue of St. Peter. St. Peter welcomes you when you enter the Cathedral and St. Paul wishes you goodbye when you leave. 

 St. Peter's Statue in front of the Church

 St. Paul's statue in front of the Church

 View from the entrance to St. Peter's Church

Us in front of the entrance to St. Peter's Church

The first thing you see when entering the St. Peter's Church is Michelangelo's Pieta, one of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. 

Michelangelo's Pieta

Then we enter the large and immense nave of the Church. St. Peter is unbelievable huge, everything inside the church is of big dimensions and very impressive. We walked along the large nave admiring the paintings, the mosaic, the graves or statues of different popes, statues of saints and many other religious objects.

The nave of the St. Peter's Church

 Walking on the large nave of the St. Peter's Church

 St. Peter's throne

 Statues in the St. Peter's Church

 Painting in the St. Peter's Church

Vatican coat of arms

Of course the most important and the most impressive thing inside the Cathedral is the Baldachinno build on the spot where the grave of St. Peter is. The Baldachinno is under the Dome and over the grave of St. Peter and is also sheltering the altar. It was made by Bernini and it is made of solid bronze, in the form of twisted bars. Here usually the Pope is celebrating the Eucharist.

 Baldachinno inside the St. Peter's Church

Baldachinno inside the St. Peter's Church

Baldachinno inside the St. Peter's Church

In front of the altar and Baldacchino is the entrance to the grave of St. Peter. The entrance is made of marble small colonnades and is decorated with golden candles and on some celebrations this is decorated with green leafs and flowers.

 The grave of St. Peter

 The grave of St. Peter

The grave of St. Peter

Over the Baldacchino is the Dome immense and beautifully constructed. You go up the stairs and watch the whole St. Peter's Square from there. In the inside of the Dome it is written in 2 meter size letter: Tv es Petrvs et svper hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam. Tibi dabo claves regni caelorvm which means are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. ... I will give you the keys of the  kingdom of heaven..." and under the lantern S. Petri gloriae sixtvs pp. v. a. m. d. xc. pontif. V. which means To the glory of St Peter; Sixtus V, pope, in the year 1590 and the fifth year of his pontificate. From the main altar we can go to left and right and admire two more altars.

Dim lights coming through the Dome of the St. Peter's Cathedral

Then we slowly walked out f the church and we stayed on the cold stones steps resting. When we came out of the church we saw the statue of St. Paul and the entrance to the inside of the Vatican City guarded by the Swiss Guards. These guards have still the same costumes created by Michelangelo hundreds of years ago and they are responsible mainly for the protection of the Holly Father. 

Swiss Guard

We stopped at the Vatican Library, where you can find thousands of religious books and magazines, postcards and small religious objects. We bought Pope Benedict's last book, some postcards and a book about monuments in Rome. In the part of the square there is also installed a Post Office where you can buy some souvenirs, buy euro coins with the face of the Pope on it or send postcards with the stamp of the Vatican. However we already did this in the Vatican Museum.
After the visit in Vatican was over our feet hurt so much we could hardly walk. So we rested there looking at the beautiful square and the tourists, we made pictures in front of the St. Peter's Cathedral and in
front of the fountains.

Me in front of the fountain

 Resting on the steps after the visit, in the back a Vatican Post Office

 Me in the St. Peter's Square

When we finally left the St. Peter's Square we went via the Via della Conciliazione (Road of the Conciliation)  and we saw the Cafe San Piedro and we stopped at a religious book shop. We went along the large boulevard until the Castle Sant' Angelo.

 Leaving the St. Peter's Square

 Cafe San Pietro

Via della Conciliazione (Road of the Conciliation)

 Castle Sant' Angelo

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