St. Peter in Chains

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The Basilica Saint Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) is located in Rome on the Esquiline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. It was built in 430 A.D. under Empress Eudoxia’s orders, who was the wife of Emperor Valentinian III. The goal of building such a basilica was to protect and keep Saint Peter’s chains safe. According to the legend, when Pope Leo I wanted to take the chains to compare them to those in the Mamertime prison, the two chains miraculously fused together and it became impossible to separate one from the other. A convent had also been built next to the basilica but after the Italian Unification it was given to the Sapienza University.

Things to see

The basilica has undergone several renovations since its completion but its current aspect is due to the renovations made by the Pope Julius I in 1503. What made the basilica famous however is the tomb of Pope Julius II. Pope Julius died on February 21st 1513 but his tomb was not finished until a century later. The large structure was made by Michelangelo and is considered as one of the artist’s masterpieces. The initial plan was to build a three-level structure with 40 statues inside of Saint Peter’s Basilica but to Michelangelo’s dismay, the Pope abandoned the project. Michelangelo had many other projects at the time and his contract changed so he never had the chance to complete the full project.

The central statue represents Moses, his fingers stroking his beard as he holds the Tablets of God’s Law under his right arm. He is depicted with horns, which is the traditional representation of people who have been touched by God. The statues either side of Moses, which represent Leah and Rachel, have also been made by Michelangelo while the other statues were realized by his students.

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St. Peter in Chains

Rome - St Peter in chains - marbles
Rome St Peter in chains - detailRome - St Peter in chains - particularRome - St Peter in chains - interior

The Basilica Saint Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) is located in Rome on the Esquiline Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. It was built in 430 A.D. under Empress Eudoxia’s orders, who was the wife of Emperor Valentinian III. The goal of building such a basilica was to protect and keep Saint Peter’s chains safe. According to the legend, when Pope Leo I wanted to take the chains to compare them to those in the Mamertime prison, the two chains miraculously fused together and it became impossible to separate one from the other. A convent had also been built next to the basilica but after the Italian Unification it was given to the Sapienza University.

Things to see

The basilica has undergone several renovations since its completion but its current aspect is due to the renovations made by the Pope Julius I in 1503. What made the basilica famous however is the tomb of Pope Julius II. Pope Julius died on February 21st 1513 but his tomb was not finished until a century later. The large structure was made by Michelangelo and is considered as one of the artist’s masterpieces. The initial plan was to build a three-level structure with 40 statues inside of Saint Peter’s Basilica but to Michelangelo’s dismay, the Pope abandoned the project. Michelangelo had many other projects at the time and his contract changed so he never had the chance to complete the full project.

The central statue represents Moses, his fingers stroking his beard as he holds the Tablets of God’s Law under his right arm. He is depicted with horns, which is the traditional representation of people who have been touched by God. The statues either side of Moses, which represent Leah and Rachel, have also been made by Michelangelo while the other statues were realized by his students.

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