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.
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.
If you find yourself wandering down the via cavour, take a few minutes and stop into this church. Not only is the church beautiful, but it also houses two treasures. The first being the chains that held St. Peter during his two imprisonments in Jeruselem and Rome. These are displayed in a case under the alter. These chains are said to have miraculously fused together. Empress Eudoxia had the church built to house the chains.
The other treasure is Michelangelo's Moses statue. He is coming back from Mount Sinai with the commandments under his arm and frowning at the antics of his brethren in regards to the golden calf. On his head are two small horns, as St. Jerome had translated the word "Karan ohr" (rays of light) as horns. "Keren" in Hebrew can mean either "ray" or "horn". There is also a scratch on his knee where Michelangelo reportedly thought the statue was so lifelike he struck it on the knee with his chisel and said "Now speak!". It is a powerful sculpture and well worth seeing.
also located in the church of san pietro in vincoli is michelangelo's moses. this famous sculpture is part of the tomb of pope julius II. julius commissioned the tomb in 1505 but lost interest in the project because of his renovation of st. peters. michelangelo had originally planned fourty statues for the monument but he only finished "moses" and the "dying slave". this is another reason to visit this interesting church
san pietro in vincoli is an interesting church to visit. it houses the vincoli (chains) of st. peter while he was being held in mamertime prison. later the chains were sent to constantinople. in the 5th century one of the pair of chains was returned to rome. pope leo I built this church to house this relic. later the other chain was sent back to rome and it was a perfect match. today the chains are displayed under the high altar.
He's there in San Pietro in Vincoli (Church of St Peter in Chains) - in all his strength and majesty - a huge, powerful figure. An unusual experience for me as I approached the right nave and took a close up photo of Moses (photo 1 - not much light here) - I moved over to the right side as Moses is facing that direction - another tourist moved over and gave me room to get at good view - as I raised my camera and focused, the lights suddenly brightened (photos 2 and 3) - the man and I looked at each other a bit shocked - was Moses telling us something? After a moment the lights dimmed again and it dawned on us that the lighting was timed - bit of a relief to know that!
Photo 4 - The Church of San Pietro in Vincoli (photo 4)- simple Renaissance façade built by Meo del Caprina in 1475 for Sixtus IV Della Rovere - Vinculis (links but also chains) is a reference to the chains of St. Peter for which a church was built on this site as early as 442 by Empress Eudoxia minor. This explains why the church is also called Basilica Eudossiana.
Photo 5 - Altar with chains of St Peter encased in glass
While visiting the Coloseo and / or Foro Romano area, you can take a short 300-yard walk to Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, located on the square Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli. There is Michaelangelo's famous masterpiece featuring Moses. Many ways to get there. From Foro Romano: take Via Cavour street and turn right (stairs!!!) at the Piazza San Francesco di Paola. Metro (subway): take line B direction Laurentina from Termini (1st stop - Cavour) and take the Cavour street towards Foro Romano. Turn left (stairs!!!) at the Piazza San Francesco di Paola.
This statue is found in the Basilica di S. Pietro in Vincoli. This statue is not behind glass (as the Pieta is) so you get great views all around it. It was supposed to be part of a large tomb with many statues for Pope Julius II but the Pope became more interested in building a new St. Peters. Then after he died, the next pope persuaded Michelangelo to do The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel so the tomb was never completed as designed.
This cathedral is hard to find. It is in a niche down a hill from one way and up stairs and under an arch from another. According to tradition the 2 chains used to shackle Peter in Mamertine Prison are here. Vincoli is Italian for chains. The 2 chains were taken to Constantinople and one was put in a church there in the 5th cen. The other one was sent to Rome. This church was built to house that chain. Some years later the 2nd chain was brought to Rome and it linked miraculously together. Besides seeing this relic, the church is beautiful and also the site of Michelangelo's statue of Moses.
This is said to be one of the first churches in Rome but whether that is true or not, it is worth a visit. It is not an impressive building and I don't think it even looks like a church. It dates from the 5th C and was one of the Roman "house churches." It has two major claims to fame: it has enshrined what are said to be the chains in which St. Peter was imprisoned in Rome and it has Michelangelo's statue of Moses which was originally intended to be one of 48 for Pope Julius II's tomb. Unfortunately for Julius he died about the time the project got started. Michelangelo reportedly worked on ths statue off and on for 30 years. Happily for us he finished it as there are some he never completed (the "prisoners" in Florence for example). It is a very impressive statue and you can walk right up to it and look into those all-knowing eyes.
Michaelangelo - the greatest sculptor ever lived created this masterpiece. The horns are the crowning touch -- in medieval times, the hebrew word horn means "ray of light". Michaelangelo knew better but wanted to give the statue an air of scary charisma. This is a typical Michaelangelo's work -- he always make a twist - Moses is both at rest (seated) and in motion (tense leg, turning head). What can I say the dude is a genius.
Petrus is one of the 12 apostle . One of the 12
disciples of jezus. He is important in Christian
religion as he is seen as the first pope.
Jesus gave him the keys of to heaven.
If you see a statue with keys , a cock or fish
it is likely to be 'Sint Pieter'.
In belgium a lot of jokes are circulating about
people who come to 'Sinte Pieter' to get
into heaven. Whatever...
He probably was killed in the year 64 AD when
Nero was emperor . He is buried where
now the 'San Pietro in Vaticano' is located.
Anyway , were am I heading for.
The church 'SanPietro in Vincoli' was build
for the chains for 'San Pietro'.
'Vincoli' means chains.
They are kept in a relic shrine in front of the
church. It was quit usual to keep these things
and worship them at that time.
It is sure that they are from that period ,
but if it is the real stuff??? Who knows.
The story goes that there were 2 chains that
Petrus held prison in the marmertine prison
and when they met again in Rome they
miraculously joined together.
How about that?
The statue of Moses is situated at San Pietro in Vincoli. It is also worth seeing the chains used to shackle St Peter while he was being held in prison. The piazza di san pietro is 5 minutes walk from the Colloseum.
This church is most known for the statue of Moses by Michelangelo decorating the tomb of Pope Julius II, who was a great patron of the arts. If you are an art history/ Michelangelo person, this is one you probably don't want to miss. Or if you are walking around this part of town, stop in for a few minutes and check it out. And by the way, in italy, putting your index fingers on top of your head as if they were horns is one way of saying someone's wife is cheating on them. The horns of jealousy. (All this will make more sense when you see the sculpture)
The chains themselves are sort of cool as well.
This church is a major must see!! and you'd be surprised how many people miss it. In addition to it being a beautifully ornate church, it's the two attractions inside that have the magnetic power.
The main attraction are St. Peter's chains- yes, the actual chains (as far as historians are concerned) that bound St. Peter.
The second attraction is Michelangelo's statue of Moses. This famous statue is a great work of art that also created a major prejudice for centuries to come. On Moses' head, Michelangelo carved to horns...because in the Bible, the original Aramaic translation describing Moses having "karnei orot" or 'rays of light' was mistranslated, because "karnei" can ALSO mean 'horns.' Ergo...Moses had horns, and for centuries to come, the Anti-Semitic prejudice of Jews having horns was prevelant in many areas.