2012 April 22 – Day 42 – Civitavecchia, Italy (Rome) (Part 2)

After we finished lunch on our tour in Rome, the bus took us to Vatican City where we visited St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the largest church in the world with the largest free standing dome in the world. Bernini’s Colonnade has 284 columns with 142 statues of all the apostles, angels and heavenly beings around the rim.

Long, long lines of people waiting to get in.  There is no charge to tour the basilica and the line moves quite quickly.                                              St. Peter’s Basilica

The massive courtyard is filled with chairs and gigantic television screens for people to attend Mass and special services.  St. Peter’s Square can hold 300,000 people.

The place is gigantic and you easily lose your sense of perspective – very similar to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul; which was the largest church in the world until St. Peter’s was built – where huge things just don’t look as big as they are or as tall as they are because the surroundings are so large. There are hundreds and hundreds of art and sculpture masterpieces.  The large artwork in the back of the photo above is a mosaic created in 1722 from an original painting by Maratta in 1698.

                 Michalangelo’s masterpiece “Pietà (The Pity)  The Altar of St. Sebastion, the mosaic was created by Pietro Paolo Christofari, a baroque artist and is a reproduction of a Domenichino painting made between 1625-1631.The central dome of the basilica is 135 meters high (443′) and 42 meters (138′) in diameter. The Altar of St. Peter’s, consecrated by Pope Clement VIII on June 5, 1594, sits atop several older altars.  Only the pope celebrates mass there.  The 95′ high baldacchio (canopy) was created by Bernini and was the first work of art in the basilica.  It took Bernini 9 years to make.  It is built over St. Peter’s the apostle’s tomb.The Altar of Transfiguration – the mosaic is a reproduction of  Raphael’s last  painting.  The mosaic on the right is from the original painting by Cristoforo Roncalli in 1604 called “The Punishment of the Couple Ananias and Saphira.”

You get a bit of sense of scale when you understand the the canopy of St. Peter is 95 feet high and the ceiling is much, much higher.Monument to Pope Alexander VII (1655-1667) by Bernini 1678.Monument to Pope Pious VIII (1829-1830) by Pietro Tenerani, 1860The Altar of St. Gregory the Great (590-604).  Mosaic from 1772 of a Sacchi painting of 1625.

                       The Papal Coat of Arms of Pope Clement VIII                                           The Presentation Chapel

These cherubs at the Font of Holy Water are each over 6′ tall.

The Basilica has five very wide Naves (aisles) with smaller chapels branching off of them, beautifully painted domes and art and gilt everywhere.  The church can accommodate 90,000 people!                                                                                The Castle of St. Angelo

After our mind-boggling tour of St. Peter’s the bus took us on a drive along the Tiber river and to the Roman Coliseum.

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