Photographer's Note

Baroque ceiling fresco in WS No.1
Chains of St.Peter in WS No.2

San Pietro in Vincoli
Built in the 5th century, St. Peter in Chains is an old church, even for Rome, and was built to house a sacred relic. As the story is told in the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter was imprisoned for preaching in Jerusalem. While he was asleep in prison, however, an angel woke him, saying that he was free. Sure enough, the chains were gone from around his wrists and Peter was able to escape. Tradition says that those chains were brought to Rome, where they now rest in a glass box beneath the altar of the church.
But that's not the real reason to visit. Tourists flock to this church to see one of Michelangelo's most impressive sculptures - the Moses. The piece is a part of the tomb of Pope Julius II, the man who commissioned, among other things, the Sistine Chapel, and who was more or less the bane of Michelangelo's existence. As a relatively young Michelangelo planned and began work on an elaborate freestanding tomb for Julius that would contain over 40 statues, the pope changed his mind and distracted the artist with an idea about painting a ceiling. Michelangelo begrudgingly yielded to the pope’s demand, frequently complaining that he would prefer finishing the tomb over working on the Sistine frescoes. Michelangelo eventually resumed work on the tomb, but before he could complete much of it, Julius died, and Julius's heirs proceeded to hound Michelangelo about the project for nearly 40 years. In his old age, Michelangelo would cite the incomplete work as one of his greatest disappointments and one of his greatest frustrations.
The tomb, as it stands now, was largely completed by other artists, and some of the pieces are almost painfully blank and awkward. Or maybe they only appear that way when viewed in such close proximity to the Moses. The tomb's centerpiece sculpture is amazing - Moses's beard blows and twists in an unseen wind, and his muscles bulge around the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments. And don't be confused by the horns sticking out of Moses's head - a common Renaissance mistranslation of the Book of Exodus confused the rays of light coming from Moses into horns. But somehow, regardless of the strange protrusions, the work is marvelous, and definitely worth a viewing. Plus, there is no charge for admission to the church, and the chance to see such an amazing work for so cheap is hard to come by.


The interior has a nave and two aisles, with three apses divided by antique Doric columns. The aisles are surmounted by cross-vaults, while the nave has an 18th century lacunar ceiling, fresco ed in the center by Giovanni Battista Parodi, portraying the Miracle of the Chains (1706).

Michelangelo's Moses (completed 1515), while originally intended as part of a massive 47-statue, free-standing funeral monument forPope Julius II, became the centerpiece of the Pope's funeral monument and tomb in this, his family's church (dellaRovere 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 in this case was easier for the sculptor (as sculpting concrete horns is easier than sculpting rays of light) and would have been understood by all who saw it as referring to the radiance of Moses' face; they would not have actually thought that he had horns.
Other art works include two canvases of Saint Augustine and St. Margret by Guercino, the monument of Cardinal Girolamo Agucchi designed by Domenichino (also the painter of a sacristy fresco depicting the Liberation of St. Peter (1604). The altarpiece on the first chapel to the left is a Deposition by Pomarancio. The tomb of Nicolň Cardinal da Cusa (d 1464), with its relief Cardinal Nicholas before St Peter, is by Andrea Bregno,. Painter and sculptor Antonio is buried here. Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, is also buried in the

Church, as well as PollaiuoloCardinal Cinzo Aldobrandini, whose tomb is decorated with imagery of the Grim Reaper.

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Additional Photos by Csaba Witz (csabagaba) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 617 W: 172 N: 1499] (7018)
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