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St. Peters Basilica

St. Peters Basilica
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S t. Peter's Basilica was first consecrated in the year 326. Erected over the grave of St. Peter, the church was commissioned by Emperor Constantine the Great. As the centuries passed, St. Peter's grew more imposing and opulent. Yet, by the time of Pope Julius It's reign, it had steadily degenerated. In 1506, the Pope ordered the rebuilding of the Basilica, and hired four of the leading Renaissance artists and architects to work on his ambitious project. Bramante, Raphael, Sangallo, Michelangelo and Maderno succeeded one another to reconstruct this majestic ode to Christendom. November 18, 1626 marked the inauguration of the world's largest Basilica. The church covers a total area of 163,011 square feet (15,160m2). It stands 695 feet tall (212m), portico included, and is 453 feet wide (138m). A collection of statues representing Jesus, St John the Baptist and Christ's disciples, with the exception of St. Peter, crown the Basilica's facade. The interior houses some of antiquity's most monumental works of art.

St. Peter's Square forms an integral part of the Basilica. The quadruple colonnade, made to represent two arms poised to embrace the faithful, was one of the final undertakings of Gianlorenzo Bernini, a master of baroque art, sculpture and design. The Square is 1,115 feet long (340m) and 787 feet wide (240m). Its top is supported by 284 columns and 88 pillars 60 feet tall (2()m), and is bordered by a splendid balustrade featuring 140 statues of saints. The obelisk, once housed in Caligula's and Nero's amphitheater, now forms the Square's centerpiece. The magnificent fountains that flank the Basilica, and the enormous statues of St. Peter and St. Paul which frame the stairs leading to the church, also contribute to this celebrated sanctuary's truly imposing appearance.


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