Церковь св. Петра в веригах
San Pietro in Vincoli, church of St Peter in Chains
The church was one of the tituli, Rome's first parish churches, known as the Titulus Eudoxiae or the Eudoxiana. It was built over the ruins of an Imperial villa in 442 (or possibly 439), to house the chains that had bound St Peter in prison in Jerusalem (Acts, ch. 5 and 12). The builder was the presbyter Philippus, aided by Eudoxia, wife of Eastern Roman Emperor Valentinian III.
According to one tradition, St Peter was condemned in a court building on this site, and a Christian chapel was built here in the 4th century. The new church then replaced this in the 5th century. There is no evidence that supports this tradition, and the remains below the church are from a villa, not a basilica.
It was restored by Pope Adrian I (772 - 795), and rebuilt by Pope Sixtus IV (1471 - 1484) and Pope Julius II (1503 - 1513).
It was renovated in 1875, and some modernizations were made at that time.
The church is served by the Canons Regular of the Lateran. Since 1970, it has been the property of the Italian state.
The last titular priest of the church was H.E. Louis-Marie Cardinal Billй, Archbishop of Lyon. He was appointed on February 21, 2001, and died 12 March 2002.
The ancient origins of the church are clearly visible.
Ancient basilica dedicated to St Peter the Apostle.
The portico was rebuilt in the pontificate of Sixtus IV (1471-1484) by Baccio Pontelli, and after being raised in the early 17th century, under Pope Clement XI, it hides the old facade.
The marble entrance portal is from the 15th century. It bears the arms of the Della Rovere family.
The cloister, designed by G. da Sangallo 1489-1503, can be entered if you ask at the Institute of Engineering (Universitа di Roma) to the right of the church. A well cover, c. 1517, in the cloister is attributed to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.
Excavations beneath the church can be entered from the portico.
The nave has 22 ancient columns, dividing it into three aisles. The capitals are Doric, an order of architecture which is rare in Roman churches. Surprisingly, they have Ionic bases. Tradition claims that they were taken from the basilica where St Peter was condemned. As mentioned above, it is unlikely that the church is built above the remains of that building, but it may have been in the vicinity. It is likely that the columns were originally from a Greek temple, as the Doric style is not really the most suitable one in a basilica - the slimmer Ionic or Corinthian columns are better.
Just inside the present entrance are remains from the original entrance.
The ceiling, restored under Pope Julius II (1503-1513) was painted after a design by Francesco Fontana in the late 18th century. In the middle of the nave, the ceiling has a fresco by Giovanni Battista Parodi, The Miracle of the Chains, painted in 1706. It refers to a miracle that allegedly occured when the chains were brought to Rome; the chains from theCarcere Mamertino were brought into contact with them, and the two chains fused of their own accord.
Part of the floor of the ancient church is still visible.
The painting of St Augustine over the first altar on the right has been attributed to Guercino.
The tombs of Lanfranco Cardinal Margotti and Girolamo Cardinal Agucchi, third titular of the church, are by Domenichino, and The Liberation of St Peter over the second altar on the right is a copy of a work by the same artist.
Transept, sanctuary and apse
The most famous work of art here is Michelangelo's Moses from 1545, found to the right of the altar. It was made for the monumental tomb of Pope Julius II, and was supposed to be in the new St Peter's at the Vatican. The project was never completed, and of the sculptures here, only Moses is by Michaelangelo. His sculptures of slaves are in the Louvre, and the others are by his pupils. The horns are a result of a misunderstanding - the Hebrew text says that a radiance shone about his face when he came down from Mount Sinai, but the Latin translation could be interpreted as saying that he had horns. From the right angle, and in good light, you can see portraits of Michelangelo and Julius II in Moses' beard. It is said that the Jews of Rome came here in great numbers to venerate the statue when it was set up.
The high altar is from the 5th century. The frescoes were added in 1577 by Iacopo Coppi with 18th century additions or alterations by Giacomo Carboni. Above the altar is a baldachino by Virginio Vespagniani.
The chains of Peter are venerated in the confessio before the altar. The bronze doors to the shrine are by Caradosso, made in 1477. They depict the condemnation of Peter by Herod, and the angel liberating him from prison. If the chains are exposed, it may not be possible to see the doors.
In the crypt behind the shrine is an ancient Roman sarcophagus. It is said to contain the relics of the Holy Machabees, seven Jewish heroes who died in war to protect the Mosaic Law. The relics were translated here under Pope Pelagius (556-561).
The church has two side apses. Outside the one on the right-hand side is a 17th century statue of St Margareth by Guercino.
Above the first altar on the left is Deposition by Pomerancio. The tomb of Nicolт Cardinal da Cusa (died 1464), with the relief Cardinal Nicholas before St Peter is by Andrea Bregno.
A 7th century Byzantine mosaic of St Sebastian is found over the second altar on the left. We are used to seeing St Sebastian as a nude, beardless man, but here he has is heavily bearded and wears a Byzantine uniform. The name of the artist is not known. Next to the altar is the tomb of Cinzio Cardinal Aldobrandini.
Near the entrance is the tomb of the artists Antonio and Piero Pollaiuolo, who were brothers. They were made by Luigi Capponi, c.1500. Above the tomb is Penitential Procession during the Plague of 1476, made by an unknown artist soon after the event.
Around the the middle of the church, by the left wall, is an inscription from the pontificate of John II, dated 532, which is the oldest monument in the church.
There is a souvenir shop through a door to the right of the statue of Moses, in an antechamber to the sacristy. In the shop, you may ask for permission to enter the sacristy - it has a fresco from 1604 of the Liberation of Peter by Domenichino.