Church of St Peter in Chains, Rome, Italy

The Church of Saint Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) is a 5th century minor basilica in Rome Italy. It is famed for being the home of Michelangelo’s statue of Moses and also the chains of St Peter. From the outside this basilica is not so impressive, but its relatively boring facade hides a wealth of amazing architecture and art inside. The church was built over earlier foundations between 432-440AD to house the chains that bound Saint Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem. In the 5th century the Empress Euxodia, wife of Emperor Valentinian II, received them as a gift from her mother and donated them to the church and Pope Leo I. Legend states that when Leo compared the chains to those that were housed in the Mamertine Prison in Rome the chains miraculously fused together. These chains are on display under the main altar at San Pietro in Vincoli.

Michelangelo’s Moses, which was completed in 1515, was originally intended to be part of a larger free standing funeral monument for Pope Julius II, however the monument was never fully completed as Michelangelo was busy with the Sistine Chapel, however students of Michelangelo completed the surrounding statues. The statue of Moses is interesting as he is depicted with horns which are meant to connote ‘the radiance of the lord’. I found the amount of memento mori within this basilica fascinating, the tomb of Cardinal Cinzio Passer Aldobrandini that is decorated with a large skeletal representation of death being the real stand out monument. The beautiful ceiling fresco was painted by Giovanni Battista Parodi in 1706.

GPS: 41.89368, 12.49306

 

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