CHURCHES and BASILICAS in the MONTI quarter

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   St. Peter in Chain (San Pietro in Vincoli) compound
    -  St. Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore)
    -  The many other churches and basilicas in the Monti quarter
           MUSI  

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

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 century.

San Pietro in Vincoli, interior

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

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).

The Moses

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 Egyptian tribe.

The Moses, side view

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".  

Moses, close-up

Moses, close-up

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 chains of St. Peter

The convent around St. Pietro in Vincoli

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.


The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major).

THE DESCRIPTION WILL SOON BE COMPLETED

The exterior

The exterior

The interior

The interior

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.

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The amazing ceiling

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's grave

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's grave

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