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St. Peter's Basilica is the largest Christian church in the world.  It is not the cathedral of Rome as many think;  that honor goes to the older Basilica di San Giovanni di Laterano on the southeast side of the city.  To Catholic Christians though, St. Peter's is one of the most sacred spots on earth, second only to a Judean hill outside the old city of Jerusalem.  Directly below the main altar of St. Peter's, a reliquary in the crypt holds the earthly remains of Simon, the Galilean fisherman, who became Peter, the Bishop of Rome and the first Pope.  A few hundred meters south of here, in a stadium called the Circus of Nero,  Peter was crucified on the orders of the Emperor Nero.  He was buried on the Vatican Hill and early Christians often gathered at his grave.  A basilica was erected over the grave by Emperor Constantine, the first Christian Roman Emperor, in 333 AD.  The present structure was built over the same site.

The pictures on this page are a sampling of the photos I took there.  A very small sample.  No one ever takes enough pictures at St. Peter's.



This is arguably one of the finest pieces of art ever created, the Pieta by Michelangelo located in a small chapel on the right aisle near the entrance.  The picture is not perfectly focused and I couldn't eliminate the reflection above the statue.  The extreme security glass barrier was installed after a lunatic attacked the statue a few years back and damaged it severely.  He felt he was doing a service to the world because he was convinced that Catholics worship idols.  Incidentally, if you want to compare the work to your own achievements in life, Michelangelo completed this work when he was 25 years old.



To the right of the main central door on the portico is the Holy Door.  This door is used only by direction of the Bishop of Rome in Jubilee years.  This is a typical arrangement for churches of the period.




One of the many larger-than-life-sized statues of Popes and Saints.  This one guards the main doorway.




The view down the nave of the basilica.  If you're not familiar with the terminology of church layout, a good reference is here




The ceiling of the nave is 151 feet up.  Illumination of the basilica is provided by light streaming in the various ceiling and side windows.




One of the holy water fonts near the entrance in the nave.




This picture gives you more of an idea of the their size.




The right aisle of the basilica.




Monument to Pope Innocent XII (17th Century) in the right aisle.




Monument to Pope Gregory XIII (16th Century) in the right aisle.




The altar of St. Jerome in the right aisle near the right transept.




The ceiling arches at the intersection of the nave and the right and left transepts.




Statue of St. Peter (rt) with the Baldacchino and the apse in the background.




In the apse:  The Cathedra (Papal Throne) with the Gloria and Holy Spirit behind.  The throne is built around a wooden chair that was the seat used by St. Peter.




The apse containing the Cathedra viewed through the Baldacchino.




Funeral monument to Pope Pius VIII (19th Century) in the right transept.




Monument and chapel dedicated to Pope Pius VII (19th Century) in the left aisle.




Monument to Pope Saint Pius X (19th-20th Century) in the left aisle.




The Baptistery in the left aisle.




The nave.