In the Monti quarter there are many
churches, some of which are universally famous. The Church of San
Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in chains) owes its name to the
precious relic it hosts: the chains used to fetter St. Peter in his prisons in Jerusalem
and in Rome.
San Pietro in Vincoli, exterior
|The original church was dedicated to the Apostles and was
built in the 4th century. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the future Julius II, completely
modified the church in the 15th century, which was further modified during the following
San Pietro in Vincoli, interior
In the exterior you can
see the church, having a portico with five arches, adjoining to the building of the
faculty of engineering. The church has a plan of a basilica, being divided by twenty
ancient marble columns in the interior.
On the ceiling there is a beautiful fresco by Giovanni Battista Parodi (1706). There are
paintings by Guercino and Domenichino, a Byzantine mosaic showing St. Sebastian, yet all
these masterpieces are eclipsed by the TOMB OF JULIUS II, by Michelangelo, notwistanding
the initial grandiose conception was never completed.
The complex of statues of Michelangelo
|Pope Julius II summoned Michelangelo in 1505 to build a
sunctuose mausoleum for St. Peter, which would have included 40 statues. The work was
suspended many times, first by quarrels between the Pope and Michelangelo, then by the
decoration by the artist of the Sistine Chapel, and finally by the death of the Pope. The
master entrusted the main part of the work to his pupils, who executed them in accordance
to his designs. Michelangelo was though totally responsible for the Moses, and was largely
responsible for the figures next to him, his wifes Rachel (left, symbolizing
Contemplative Life), and Leah (right, Active Life).
Moses, by Michelangelo
The monument was only
completed in 1545, "a tragedy", as Michelangelo put it. Nevertheless,
Michelangelo was so impressed of the result of his work that it is said he threw his
hammer against the statue crying "why won't you speak?".
Sigmund Freud, who was very interested about the significance of Moses, and in general of
anthropology and psychology of religions, came to Rome in more than one occasion to study
and interpret the statue.
S. Freud considered Moses an Egyptian, not a
Jew. According to the founder of psychoanalysis, he was a priest, a follower of the
religion worshipping the sun, introduced by Akhenaton. When the traditional priests
restored the original Egyp tian religion, they persecuted the followers of Akhenaton.
Moses (or Mosis, according to Freud) then sought protection among the Jews, originally an
Moses, side view
|The Jews were thus converted to the new religion, and
later developed their present religion.
Freud tried also to interpret the particular posture that Michelangelo gave to Moses. In
fact he does not have a classical expression, but rather a grim look to the left. Freud
wrote an essay with his considera- tions, entitled "The Moses of Michelangelo".
His conclusion is that
Moses has just returned from the mountain where we received the Tables of the Law,
when he founds his people worshipping the Golden Calf. Moses is hence looking at them in
disdain, and is about to stand up in anger. As mentioned, the church also preserves
the chains of St. Peter, in the confessio.
The chains of St. Peter
The Church of San Francesco di Paola
According to tradition,
when the two chains used to fetter the Saint in Jerusalem and in Rome were brought
together, they were united miraculously.
Adjacent to the church of St. Peter in Chain, and having its entrance in the same square,
is the national church of the Calabrians, San Francesco di Paola. The medieval tower of
the Margini was converted into its bell tower.
of Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major).
THE DESCRIPTION WILL SOON BE COMPLETED
Dedicated to Mary in the place where, according to
a tradition, it snowed in August, it is perhaps the most beautiful basilica in town, and
surely the most sober. G.L. Bernini is buried in the church, which has the best Cosmati
pavement, and beautiful side chapels.
Many popes are buried in the basilica, which is visited by the Pope the 5th of August and
the 8th of December every year.
The amazing ceiling
Gian Lorenzo Bernini's grave