San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

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Piazza S. Pietro in Vincoli

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  • Chains of St Peter in the reliquary
    Chains of St Peter in the reliquary
    by GentleSpirit
  • San Pietro in Vincoli
    by RACCOON1
  • San Pietro in Vincoli
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  • breughel's Profile Photo

    Moses but also the "Angel of Death".

    by breughel Updated Feb 15, 2014

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    the
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    San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) is a minor basilica, the church of della Rovere family, on a hill 300 m north of the Colosseum.
    The façade was a deception for us but worthwhile inside is the Michelangelo's statue of Moses, part of the tomb of Pope Julius II (photos 2 & 3).

    I will not rewrite the story of the magnificent project of the tomb of Pope Julius II with 47 statues of Carare marble; VT member Brendareed wrote here an excellent review about the ups and downs of this epic 40 years tragicomedy.
    When Brenda writes that Michelangelo always considered himself to be a sculptor first, I fully agree and would like to add that he spent 8 months in Carare only to choose the blocs of marble!
    Everything has been written about the "horns" of Moses resulting from a bad translation of the Hebrew "beams of light" and that horns are easier to sculpt than rays of light.
    About light I would like to add that if the visitor wants to see something of Moses in this rather dark church, especially on a rainy day, he has to spend some money to put on the lights.

    I have no comments about the fused chains of San Pietro (photo 4); I'm used to separate science from the legends that belong to my ancestral culture and traditions.
    I was more interested by the tomb of Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini, decorated with imagery of the Grim Reaper a skeleton carrying a scythe on an altar in the left aisle (photo 1). Here he has wings so that he is "The Angel of Death".
    Another tomb, also of a Church dignitary, is decorated with two expressive skeletons "Spectres of Death" (photo 5). As a child I was much impressed by the image of the Grim Reaper called in French "La Grande Faucheuse" often found in religious paintings or sculptures. I still was impressed by these tombs at San Pietro in Vincoli.

    Open: 07.30 - 12.30 and 15.30 - 18.00 h. Closed around noon time!
    Free entry.

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    Church of St. Peter in Chains

    by goodfish Updated Feb 6, 2014

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    This church was commissioned by Pope Leo I to house the chains which supposedly shackled St. Peter when he was imprisoned firstly in Jerusalem and then in Rome. Built in the 5th century over the remains of an imperial villa, it has been restored and rebuilt several times since.

    Besides the chains - which can be seen in a glass case near the high altar- the biggest reason to make a stop is to see Michelangelo's Moses. Commissioned for the lavish tomb of Pope Julius II, it was one of only two pieces completed after Julius' death before the the next Pope set the poor sculptor, who much preferred hacking away at marble to dabbling at ceilings, to work on the Sistine Chapel. The two knobs on Moses' head was a misinterpretation of the Hebrew description for the rays of light that shone from his face when he came down from the Mount. Translated to Latin, it came out as 'horns'. He looks cranky 'cause, well, there was this unfortunate incident involving a golden calf...

    The church is in the same general vicinity (Esquiline) as the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, which makes it convenient to give both a look-see while in the area. See this site for hours and other info:

    http://www.060608.it/en/cultura-e-svago/luoghi-di-culto-di-interesse-storico-artistico/chiese-cattoliche/san-pietro-in-vincoli.html

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  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo

    St Peter in Chains

    by GentleSpirit Updated Jan 28, 2013

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    Michelangelo's Moses
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    This is a minor basilica located across the street from the Coliseum. You go uphill for a bit and its right there. Has a lovely view of some of the landmarks. More than anything else, this church (basilica) is famous for having Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses.

    The sculpture was supposed to be part of an ornate and substantially larger tomb for Pope Julius II, the famous "Warrior Pope." This was the same pope that was responsible for giving Michelangelo the commission to paint the Sistine Chapel and was a known generous patron of the arts. The Moses statue is amazing, (though a bit more muscular than I thought would be realistic) it is one of those situations where the stone comes to life. For me, this is a must see in Rome!

    In the reliquary, and this is another big reason to see this church, are the chains that bound St Peter.

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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    San Pietro in Vincoli

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Written Jul 1, 2012

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    Michelangelo's Moses in San Pietro in Vincoli
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    San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter in Chains) is a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica, best known for being the home of Michelangelo's statue of Moses, part of the tomb of Pope Julius II.
    The interior has a nave and two aisles, with three apses divided by antique Doric columns.
    Michelangelo's Moses (completed in 1515), while originally intended as part of a massive 47-statue, free-standing funeral monument for Pope Julius II, became the centerpiece of the Pope's funeral monument and tomb in this, the church of della Rovere family.
    Moses is depicted with horns, connoting "the radiance of the Lord", due to the similarity in the Hebrew words for "beams of light" and "horns". This kind of iconographic symbolism was common in early sacred art, and for an artist horns are easier to sculpt than rays of light.

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  • zadunajska8's Profile Photo

    San Pietro in Vincoli - Worth a short diversion

    by zadunajska8 Written Oct 23, 2011

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    This certainly isn't going to become a top tourist stop in Rome but it is worth looking in on if you are nearby (perhaps when going between the Roman Forum and Termini or Santa Maria Maggiore) as it's just off Via Cavour.

    The church has two main attractions the chains which are claimed to be the ones St Peter was held in and a horned statue of Moses by Michelangelo.

    The other great thing about this church was the fact that it felt so peaceful and cool on such a hot and busy day in Rome!

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  • didier06's Profile Photo

    SAN PIETRO IN VINCOLI

    by didier06 Updated Sep 2, 2011

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    MOSES BY MICHELANGELO

    This basilica was built between 432-440 to house the relic of the chains that bound ST PETER when he was imprisoned in JERUSALEM.

    The MOSES a famous sculpture by MICHELANGELO housed here depicts MOSES with horns onhis head

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  • Arizona_Girl's Profile Photo

    "A small church"

    by Arizona_Girl Updated May 19, 2011

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    Our guild told us before going in that this is "a small church" - its huge inside compared to most in the states. There are a lot of interesting artwork, most gets overlooked due to the famous "Moses" by Michelangelo. Don't leave before taking a full look around at all the artwork. Also known as Saint Peter in Chains, since the relic is known as the chains that Saint Peter wore in prison while in Rome. Easy walk from the Colosseum, just up the hill. Nice little Gelato and sandwich place near by.

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  • jlanza29's Profile Photo

    Wow !!!!!

    by jlanza29 Updated Sep 21, 2009
    The chains of St. Peter's
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    One of the most humbling places in Rome that's not in the Vatican is this 12th century church of St. Peter's in chains. As legend has it St. Peters woke one night to see and an angel who told him to get up and walk out of prison, when St. Peter stood the chains holding him down fell and St. Peter walked out...so those chain are here on display along side one of Michealangelo's masterpiece's... a tomb for a pope...can't remeber the name of the tomb or pope but it's amazing (see the 2nd pix), give your self about an hour here, admission is free but a donation is accepted to help maintain the church !!!!

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  • GuitarStan's Profile Photo

    San Pietro in Vincoli

    by GuitarStan Written Jan 21, 2008
    Michelangelo's
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    Translated: "Saint Peter in Chains" This church has an unassuming facade, but what it stores inside is where it's real beauty lies. This church is famous for housing Michelangelo's "Moses" statue. It was originally was carved for the tomb of Pope Julius II. It also houses on display the chains that St. Peter was bound with when he was imprisoned in Rome. I believe this church is one of those "must sees" when on your visit to the "Eternal City". You could walk right past this church and not realize what your missing, so if your visiting Rome, be sure to have it marked on your map and in your mind.

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  • One of the great sites to visit in Rome

    by MaryRoseGaughan Written Oct 1, 2007

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    The Statue of Moses

    My favorite place to visit in Rome is San Pietro in Vincoli or the Church of St. Peter in Chains. It contains one of Michelangelo's great masterpieces, the Statue of Moses, which was to be the centerpiece of a massive 47-statue, free-standing funeral monument for Pope Julius II with horns on the head of the statue. The horns are meant to symbolize the radiance of the face of Moses. The church is very close to the coliseum and is an easy walk. It is on the western side of the Esquiline Hill. The church was built by the Empress Eudoxia in the 5th century (432-440). The Empress's purpose in having the church constructed was to provide a place to honor the chains from St. Peter's imprisonment that she had collected from Jerusalem and Rome. The chains are contained in a glass case near the main altar. Michelangelo's Moses is so breathtaking because it is so beautiful. The Moses sits between St. Rachel who represents the contemplative life and Saint Lia who represents the active life. There is no fee to enter this church, so it can be enjoyed by everyone.

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  • Roadquill's Profile Photo

    St Peters in Chains

    by Roadquill Written Aug 12, 2007

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    The Chains
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    In a non descript church of few blocks North of the Colosseum is San Pietro in Vincole is not only "the chains the held Saint Peter" but also Michelangelo's Horned Moses. The Moses is really cool, but the chains are the most dramatic.

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  • croisbeauty's Profile Photo

    San Pietro in Vincoli

    by croisbeauty Written Jan 7, 2007

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    San Pietro in Vincoli - interiors
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    According to Roman standards, San Pietro in Vincoli is reletively small church. It has almost insignificant facade but its interiors is rich of magnificent works of art. Those who are not fammiliar with probably wont even stop by.
    The church was built by Eudoxia, daughter of Theodosius the Younger and wife of the Emperor Valentinian III. The basilica was called Eudoxiana or more commonly San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains). The portico was constructed in the 15th century for Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the future Pope Julius II, who ordered Michelangelo to build him a funeral monument.

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  • bugalugs's Profile Photo

    San Pietro In Vincoli

    by bugalugs Updated Oct 22, 2006

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    Moses

    San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) was originally built in the 5th century.

    It is here in this church where St. Peters chains are and also the sculpure by Michelangelo of Moses.

    Its a very old and dark church but well worth a visit, the statue of Moses is just wonderful.
    I think it is a place that is probably missed by some tourists which is such a shame.

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  • von.otter's Profile Photo

    Me and Moses

    by von.otter Updated Sep 6, 2006

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    Me and Moses

    Then suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. 'Get up!' he said, 'Hurry!' and the chains fell from his hands.
    — The Holy Bible, Acts 12, 7

    The cavernous Basilica of St. Peter in Chains houses the monument to Pope Julius II. This is the pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. He also engaged the Florentine native to design and carve his final resting place.

    Crowds flock to see the tomb of Pope Julius II, with its central focus, Moses the Lawgiver. Michelangelo’s monument to his demanding papal patron went through many changes between 1505 and 1545. At one point the design called for 40 separate sculpted figures. Once a final design was reached in 1545, 32 years after the pontiff’s death, it took two years to complete. But this is not a tomb, but a monument because the pope’s remains do not rest here but at St. Peter’s in the Vatican.

    Those horns sticking up from the prophet’s head are Michelangelo’s attempt to depict the rays of light the Old Testament tells us were emanating from his head when he came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments.

    Hollywood trivia: it is said that Cecil B. deMille cast Charlton Heston as Moses in his movie “The Ten Commandments,” because the actor supposedly resemblanced this marble Moses!

    In AD 439 Empress Eudoxia, wife of the Emperor Valentinian III, sent the chains that had fettered St. Peter in Jerusalem to Pope St. Leo I Magno. When he compared these chains to those from St. Peter’s nine-month sentence in Rome’s Mamertine prison the chains fused together. They were placed in a basilica dedicated to SS Peter and Paul. The name was changed to the Basilica of St. Peter in Chains, San Pietro in Vincoli, in AD 442.

    Safely locked up in a gilded bronze and glass box below the high altar the chains are objects of worship. Crowds gather around, tossing money on the floor in front of the chains.

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  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo

    St. Peter's in Chains ( 2 photos )

    by nicolaitan Written Aug 20, 2006

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    This church is most famous for its contents - the relics of St. Peter and Michelangelo's Moses. The church was built between 432-440 by the Empress Eudoxia to honor the chains from Jerusalem and Rome used to imprison St. Peter. When Eudoxia gifted the Jerusalem chains to Pope Leo I, he compared them with the Rome chains and they miraculously fused together. The chains are kept in a reliquary under the main altar and can be illuminated for a brief period by inserting a small coin into the light machine.

    Michelangelo's Moses is part of an incomplete funeral monument for Pope Julius II (whose remains are at St. Peter's). Of interest are the horns on Moses' head - these are attributed to "rays of light" said to be rising from his face after his meeting with God on Mt. Sinai.

    As with most major Roman churches, there have been multiple renovations and rebuildings over the centuries. there are multiple examples of sacred art, of which perhaps the most famous is the 18th Century ceiling fresco Miracle of the Chains by Parodi.

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