St. Peter’s Basilica… Indulge Yourself

Seeing Michelangelo's Pieta on its own is worth visiting St. Peter's Basilica.

One of the world’s best-loved works of art, Michelangelo’s Pieta, is located in  St. Peter’s Basilica.

St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is one of the world’s great churches. It is simply breathtaking. Walk inside and you are ready to join the Faith… whether you are faithful or not. The church was built during the Renaissance utilizing the greatest artists of Italy when Italy had the greatest artists in the world.

Visiting, you might say, is an indulgence of the highest order. In fact the church was built on indulgence… or, more correctly, indulgences: lots of them. Let’s say you committed a very, very BIG sin. No problem, if you were very, very wealthy. The church was willing to sell you forgiveness, an indulgence if you will. It was a guarantee you’d make it through the Pearly Gates.

The practice was so widespread, and so profitable, and so corrupt in fact, that it led a relatively unknown monk by the name of Martin Luther to tack up a list of 95 demands on the doors of a German church and kick off the Protestant Reformation.

But that is all far behind us in the very distant past. I, for one, am glad that the Pope found a way to pay for his splendid monument. And, I suspect, given a few minutes alone with Michelangelo’s Pieta, the most protesting of Protestants would agree.

Bernini's bronze canopy in St. Peter's Basilica

Bernini’s ornate seven story high bronze canopy oversees the simple altar where the Pope holds Communion.

Looking up past Bernini's Canopy at Michelangelo's dome, which towers 448 feet from the floor.

Looking up past Bernini’s Canopy at Michelangelo’s dome, which towers 448 feet from the floor.

This photo of the nave of St. Peter's Basilica gives an idea of just how big the church is. 60,000 people standing shoulder to shoulder could stand inside.

This photo of the nave of St. Peter’s Basilica gives an idea of just how big the church is. 60,000 people standing shoulder to shoulder could stand inside.

If St. Peter’s isn’t enough to pull you into the Vatican, its magnificent museum with over four miles of art should. The tour ends with the Sistine Chapel where Michelangelo spent four years on his back filling 5900 square feet with art, and where a gaggle of Cardinals recently elected the new Pope Francis. I know, I know, gaggle goes with geese.

Our tour of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museum was far too short. Even cutting out half of the museum, I felt like an Olympic sprinter. Give yourself a couple of days to explore these outstanding treasures.

The collection of the Vatican Museum ranges from ancient Egypt to modern times. This is a statue of the Egyptian God Anubis.

The collection of the Vatican Museum ranges from ancient Egypt to modern times. This is a statue, I believe, of the Egyptian God Anubis who had the body of a man and the head of a jackal.

I was quite taken with this lion in the Vatican museum.

I was quite taken with this lion in the Vatican museum. Note the eyes. Mmmm, what a great tasting horse.

Finally, I can never resist man's best friend.

Finally, I can never resist man’s best friend.

Ceiling of Map Room in Vatican Museum

Finally, I wanted to emphasize how incredibly ornate portions of the Vatican are. This was the ceiling of the map room in the Vatican Museum. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

NEXT BLOGS: In Rome we will be traveling to a site I guarantee you will recognize, the Colosseum. Since it is National Park Week, I also plan to do a blog featuring several of America’s beautiful national parks that Peggy and I have visited.

6 comments on “St. Peter’s Basilica… Indulge Yourself

  1. Nice post Curt. We visited St. Pete’s on our last RTW. We had been before, but the interior is so incredible that it never seems to get old. Also, the Pieta has to be one of my favorite sculptures in all the world. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. ~James

  2. All I can say is wow.. this is so beautiful inside I may be moved to tears if I saw this.. It’s just so stunning in it’s rich colors and detailing..
    thank you for sharing these Curt!

  3. Just stunning…. and what a fascinating collection of art! This is definitely a must-visit in the walk of life. I always imagine what’s in their basement. 🙂

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