Basilica di San Pietro
The basilica of St. Peter's in the Vatican is a Catholic basilica in the Vatican City; symbol of the Vatican State, crowned by the monumental Piazza San Pietro.
It is the largest of the four papal basilicas of Rome, often described as the largest church in the world and center of Catholicism. However, it is not the cathedral church of the Roman diocese since this title belongs to the basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, which is also the first for dignity being Mother and Head of all the Churches of the World and of the World.
As a pontifical chapel, placed adjacent to the Apostolic Palace, the basilica of St. Peter is the seat of the main manifestations of Catholic worship and is therefore in solemn function during the papal celebrations, for example for Christmas, Easter, the rites of Holy Week, the proclamation of the new popes and the funeral of those deceased, the opening and closing of the jubilees and the canonizations of the new saints.
Under the pontificate of Pius IX he hosted the sessions of the First Vatican Council and under Pope John XXIII and Paul VI those of the Second Vatican Council.
St. Peter's Basilica is one of the largest buildings in the world.
The building is entirely walkable along its perimeter, although it is connected to the Vatican Palaces by an elevated corridor along the right aisle and by the Scala Regia at the edge of the façade on Piazza San Pietro; two corridors instead join it to the adjacent Sacristy. Although this aspect betrays the idea of an isolated building in the middle of a large square, as Michelangelo Buonarroti had probably thought, the presence of elevated passages, which do not interfere with the perimeter of the basilica, also allows us to grasp the complex articulation of the temple. The exterior, in travertine, is characterized by the use of a giant order over which the attic is set. This configuration is essentially due to Michelangelo Buonarroti and was also maintained in the longitudinal body added by Carlo Maderno.
Instead, along the aisles, at the 45 altars and in the 11 chapels that open within the basilica, are hosted several masterpieces of inestimable historical and artistic value, such as several works by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and others from the early Christian church.
The construction of the present St. Peter's Basilica was begun on April 18, 1506 under Pope Julius II and ended in 1626, during the pontificate of Pope Urban VIII, while the arrangement of the square in front ended only in 1667. The original drawings of the basilica they were found in 1866 by the Austrian art historian Heinrich von Geymüller.
However, it is a reconstruction, given that on the same site, before today's basilica, another was built in the fourth century, built by the Roman emperor Constantine I on the area of the circus of Nero and a contiguous necropolis where Tradition has it that St. Peter, the first of Jesus' apostles, had been buried after his crucifixion. Today it is only possible to imagine the grandeur of this building, immortalized only in some artistic representations: the plant, enriched over the centuries with precious works of art, was subdivided into five naves with wooden roof and presented similarities with that of the basilica of St. Paul outside the walls, had 120 altars of which 27 dedicated to the Madonna.