Sites we visit on Rome Pilgrimages
Of the seven pilgrim churches in Rome, five Basilicas are included in this tour: St Peter’s, St John in Lateran, St Paul outside the Walls, St Mary Major and the Holy Cross in Jerusalem.
These churches are more than worth a visit not only for their religious significance but for the worth of artistic treasures that can be found in each.
The best artists have given their talents in service of the Catholic Church, their legacy surviving through many centuries and teaching us much about ourselves, our history and our culture.
In these newsletters, let’s look in detail at some of the basilicas.
St Peter’s Basilica is one of the grandest of the world’s basilicas, measuring an impressive 220 m in length and 150 m in width and can take in as many as 20,000 people. Its iconic dome soars 136 m above the main structure and emulates the ancient Roman Pantheon and the Gothic-Renaissance Florence Cathedral in grandeur.
St Peter’s was designed mainly by Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Lorenzo Bernini. St Peter’s is the final resting place of the foremost Apostle St Peter and most of his successors. It has been described as holding a unique position in the Christian world and as the greatest of all the churches of Christendom.
It contains an outstanding collection of treasures: sculptures, reliefs, frescoes, paintings and architectural adornments.
Bernini’s bronze baldachin or altar canopy is under the central dome., standing 30 m tall and decorated throughout with gold leaves and cherubs. Directly below is tha papal altar, and hidden underground the tomb of St Peter.
Michelangelo’s beautiful sculpture of the Pieta is perfection in marble and a moving depiction of Mary holding the lifeless for of Jesus Christ.
The Basilica’s bronze doors are also worth mentioning because of their decorative panels depicting Biblical figures.