St. Peter’s Basilica

Saint Peter's Square, Vatican City near Rome, Italy
Saint Peter’s Square, Vatican City near Rome, Italy

The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican is the formal name of the principal church of the Roman Catholic Church.  St. Peter’s Square leads you to the Basilica, and after a security check, the massive Renaissance cathedral is not only a spiritual pilgrimage site, but an architectural wonder as well.   I visited during an Easter week, but the crowds were manageable.   I didn’t see the Pope at the Vatican, but did make it to the Stations of the Cross held on Good Friday each year outside of the Roman Colosseum – here’s a photo of what it looked like while sitting on a nearby hill.

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Pope Benedict XVI celebrating the Stations of the Cross outside of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.

The Basilica site was chosen on the location it was believed Saint Peter was buried after he was martyred in October 64 A.D.  The first Basilica was built in the early 300s, but the replacement you see today was started in 1506 and completed more than a century later.  There are several masterpieces of art inside, including Michelangelo’s Pieta. Thanks to an attack with a hammer in 1972, the famous sculpture is now seen through a glass panel.

 

In addition to the Basilica, the Vatican Museums are a must see, and a visit includes the Sistine Chapel.

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