Wednesday, October 29, 2008
We just went to an exhibit on objects from the Vatican. They mostly had works of art having to do with St. Peter and the popes, but also about St. Peter's Basilica - both the old one (built by Constantine) and the new one (built during the Renaissance). We also got to talk to a nice volunteer who told us a lot about Old St. Peter's and the Sistine Chapel and answered our questions we had about them.
They had a neat model of the Old St Peter's at the exhibit - we found a drawing of it on the Internet (shown above with link to the site). I was excited to see it, because I never knew what it looked like and we were just reading about it yesterday. Old St. Peter's was built in the 300s at the place where St. Peter died, which was a Roman circus (it's not a circus with clowns and jugglers, it's more like the Colosseum - they might have chariot races and gladiator fights and things like that). Around 1450, the pope decided to take it down because it was falling apart. From 1475-1483 they built a chapel and when it was completed, the pope hired Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Rosselli, and Perugino to paint the walls on the sides of the chapel. They painted the ceiling blue with stars. In 1508, another pope, hired Michelangelo to paint frescoes of the twelve apostles on the ceiling. After he started the work, Michelangelo decided that he didn't like them and came up with a different idea that we can see today. He finished the frescoes in 1512.
The groundbreaking for the new St. Peter's Basilica was in 1506 and it was consecrated in 1626.
Side commentary on another favorite from the exhibit, as explained by my then seven year old daughter:
We saw the Mandylion. The frame was made only out of gold, silver and jewels. It had angels on each side - their wings were gold and their bodies were silver. The picture was of God's face. It was really neat.
NOTE: I've transferred this several-years-old post from a different blog as it relates here - my children helped piece together this info.
History of St. Peter's Basilica from Catholic Encyclopedia
Tour of St. Peter's Basilica (this one has pictures)
Old St. Peter's Basilica (circa 300 AD - 1450 AD)
Building Big - St. Peter's Basilica
Pictures from St. Peter's Basilica
Vatican Museums Online - The Sistine Chapel