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
The Church of San Pietro in Vincoli – an odd name meaning “St. Peter in Chains.” That is because one of the primary relics in this church is the chains that supposedly were used to chain Peter in the Mamertine Prison, but the Bible tells us that an angel helped him escape. The two sets of chains were separated and, according to legend, when they were returned together, they mysteriously fused together, never to be separated again. These are the chains in the church, located at the altar. Since Peter is considered the first pope and one of Christ’s favorite apostles, this is a place where lots of visitors come.
Pope Julius II’s tomb is located in the church of San Pietro in Vincoli. But visitors also come to pay homage to an artist that didn’t get to finish his grand life’s work. To the right of the altar is Pope Julius II’s tomb designed by Michaelangelo, which today has only seven of the original 40 statues. It is still a magnificent work of art, just not to the scale Michelangelo had hoped for, with only three of the seven sculptures actually being completed by the artist himself – Moses, Leah, and Rachel – the rest being done by his assistants and students. There is the possibility that the effigy of Julius is also by Michelangelo, but this is disputed by the experts (see my separate tip about this artwork).
One more thing in this church related to Renaissance art: the tombs of Florentine artist Antonio Pollaiolo and his brother Piero can be found in San Pietro in Vincolo. The Pollaiolo brothers are memorialized with bust sculptures near the entrance door.
The outside of the church didn’t look much like a church and, if I hadn’t known what was in there, would probably have walked right past. But we purposely sought out the church (I had to see the Michelangelo!). It closes during lunch (between 12:30 and 3:00) so we patiently waited with a number of other people for the church to reopen. There are benches to sit on or the steps. Once inside, there seemed to be a mad dash to either the relic of the chains or to Pope Julius’ tomb – guess which one I went to first?
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!
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?
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.
This church was commissioned by Pope Leo I to house the chains that supposedly held St. Peter while he was imprisoned; first 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:
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
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.
The San Pietro in Vincoli is one of the most visited churches in all of Rome. This is primarily because it houses one of Italy's the most important pieces of art. That would be Michelangelo's Moses. This magnificent sculpture was created by the master as part of the Tomb of Pope Julius II. The work is considered to be one of Michelangelo's masterpieces. Of interest is that the face of Moses was a self portrait of Michelangelo himself. And for those into movie trivia, Charlton Heston was cast as Moses by Cecil B. Demille for the film "The Ten Commandments" because of his resemblence to this image of Moses.
The church itself was founded in the 5th century in honour of location where St. Peter was brought into Rome in chains. The chains that supposedly restrained St. Peter can be seen within the church. In English the name of the church translates as St. Peter in Chains.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
San Pietro in Vincoli is not a stunning church, but is quite noteworthy for Michaelangelo's magnificent statue of Moses from 1545, found to the right of the altar. Michaelangelo felt this work superior to the Pieta. 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 but the project was never completed.
You should combine this visit with the Colisseum which is only a few blocks apart. Access from Annabaldi which runs from the right side of the Colosseo Metro station.