May 25, 2010

The statue of Saint Peter in Pontifical [Papal] Vestments

From "The bronze statue of St. Peter stands out among the ornamentations of the central nave. Close to the first pier on the right supporting the dome, it shows us St. Peter seated on a marble throne in the act of blessing the faithful with his right hand, while in his left he holds the keys of the kingdom. On 29 June, the Feast of St. Peter, the statue is dressed in solemn vestments. It has been attributed to Arnolfo di Cambio (1245-1302) but, it seems, erroneously. In fact a seal dated 1283 was found which shows this statue, and the epigraph beneath it describes it as "ancient". It is probable that it is an early sixth-century work which ended up in the basilica in 1300. St. Peter's throne was made in 1800, and stands on a Sicilian jasper pedestal made in the mid-18th century. The two candelabra were placed in front of the statue in 1971"

From "This ancient statue of St. Peter, portrayed as he gives a blessing and preaches, while holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven is famous throughout the world. Some scholars have attributed it to Arnolfo di Cambio (1245-1302), but others believe that it is a V century casting. Pilgrims who come to the Basilica traditionally touch and kiss its foot, so that it is literally worn thin. In the Middle Ages pilgrims who reached Rome, touched and kissed the foot of the statue and prayed to St. Peter asking that he be merciful and open the gates of heaven for them if they died during the pilgrimage. On 29 June, the feast of St. Peter, the statue is clothed with an amice, alb, tiara, stole, red cope and a ring so that it practically seems to come to life. Fine marble, Sicilian jasper, green porphyry and the "marble of St. Peter" decorate the pedestal. Behind it, there is what seems to be a fine brocade draping, however, it is actually a mosaic. Above the baldachin, in a circular mosaic is a portrait of Pope Pius IX (1847-1878), the first Pope who in nineteen centuries reigned longer than St. Peter himself, who had led the church for twenty-five years. Pius IX sat on Peter's throne for thirty one".