St. Peter’s Basilica celebrates 500 years

Source: FSSPX News


In the year 319, the Emperor Constantine had a basilica built, completed in 349 on the site of St. Peter’s martyrdom. When the building threatened to collapse, Pope Julius II (1503-1513) had the Constantinian basilica razed and asked Donato Bramante to draw up plans for a replacement. The foundation stone of the present basilica was laid on April 18, 1506. At the same time, Julius II created the Patrimony of Saint Peter charged with the upkeep and renovation of the building. The whole of the basilica and St. Peter’s Square was completed in 1666 under the direction of Bernin.

 Several events organised by the Patrimony of Saint Peter have been planned in honor of the fifth centenary of Saint Peter’s Basilica. An oratorio entitled Petros Eni, specially composed for the occasion, will be performed on July 2. On November 19, Mozart’s Requiem will be performed in the basilica. The Government of the Vatican City will issue two series of stamps bearing the inscription “Templum divi Petri in Vaticano 1506-2006”. The Patrimony of Saint Peter will produce two commemorative medals. A conference on “Saint Peter in Holy Scripture, in devotion and in iconography” will take place on January 19, 2007 in the Synod Hall, and will give news about the latest excavations undertaken in the Roman necropolis around the altar of the Confession of Saint Peter.

 Finally, on October 3, 2006, the exhibition Petros Eni (in Greek, “Peter is here”) will be inaugurated in the “Charlemagne Wing” at the Vatican, and will remain open until March 8, 2007. The exhibition will consist of 70 works: objects from the early Christian era discovered during the last ten years of excavations, manuscripts and drawings by Italian artists which contributed to the construction of the building. Among these pieces will be the fourth century fragment of red plaster from the necropolis of the basilica, bearing the inscription “Petros Eni”; a sarcophagus dating from the year 170, before the construction of the Constantinian Basilica; the sketch of the Dome designed by Michelangelo in 1558. It is around this sketch that the exhibition was conceived, explained Antonio Paolucci, president of the scientific committee and organizer of the exhibition.