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St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the largest churches in the world, and was built on the burial site of St. Peter, one of Christ’s apostles, on Vatican Hill in Vatican City. The first St. Peter’s Basilica was built in the fourth century by Emperor Constantine, but by the 1400s it was almost in ruins.
See the fact file below for more information on the St. Peter’s Cathedral or alternatively, you can download our 20-page St. Peter’s Cathedral worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The Basilica Papale di San Pietro in the Vatican City, commonly known as Saint Peter’s Basilica, is the most famous Roman Catholic church in the world and one of the holiest sites in Christendom.
- Built out of travertine stone, Saint Peter’s is 452 feet high, 730 feet in length, and 500 feet in width, with an interior length of just over 693 feet (roughly 211 metres).
- It covers an area of 2.3 hectares (5.7 acres or about 50,000 square feet), and is large enough for 60,000 people. It used to be the largest Christian church in the world, but in 1989, it was exceeded in size by the church in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire.
- The pope who first mooted the idea of a replacement for the old Constantinian basilica was Pope Nicholas V (1447–55), who commissioned Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72) and Bernardo Rossellino (1409-64) to produce a plan for a new structure.
- Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84) founded new churches, including the Sistine Chapel, widened streets, and helped to transform Rome into a Renaissance city, but left the basilica alone.
- It wasn’t until his nephew Pope Julius II took over as pontiff in 1503 that things began to move. Julius decided to demolish the old basilica and replace it with a new one to house his large tomb.
- A long succession of popes, architects, designers, and stone masons eventually saw the project through to completion in 1626. Active pontiffs included, Leo X (1513–1521), Clement VII (1523–1534), Paul III (1534–1549), Sixtus V (1585–1590), Gregory XIV (1590-1), Clement VIII (1592–1605), Paul V (1605–1621), and Urban VIII (1623–1644).
- Among the architects (Capomastro) involved in its design, were Donato Bramante (1444-1514), Raphael (1483-1520), Giuliano da Sangallo, Baldassarre Peruzzi, Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, Michelangelo (1475-1564), Giacomo della Porta, Carlo Maderno (1556-1629) (assisted by Francesco Borromini 1599-1667), and Giovanni Bernini (1598-1680).
- The lengthy and intermittent progress of its construction illustrates the changing course of High Renaissance art towards a break from strict, antique precedent to the freer eclectic tendencies of Mannerism and ultimately the Baroque.
- The artistry, architectural grandeur, and sheer mass of St. Peter’s Basilica reaffirmed the status of Rome as the spiritual, if not temporal, home of Christianity.
SAINT PETER SQUARE
- Who wouldn’t be weak at the knees to be among a crowd of anything up to 100,000 hushed and expectant people tightly packed in St Peter’s Square waiting for the Pope to raise his arms in the blessing urbi et orbi, dedicated to the city (Rome) and the world?
- It is to Rome that people flock for this unique experience, the characteristic gesture with which the Roman Catholic Church presents itself to the world.
- They congregate in this square (dimensions: 787 feet x 1,115 feet; 240m x 340m) whose vast expanse so impressively symbolizes the universal embrace of the Church.
- It was Bernini, one of the most talented Baroque Architects and sculptors, who designed the layout of St Peter’s Square in the manner of a theatre, with the square as the auditorium and the facade of the basilica as the stage – all in keeping with the desire to make St Peter’s Basilica a textbook example of Catholic Counter-Reformation Art (c.1560-1700).
- Basing his ideas on the architecture of classical antiquity, he drew up an elliptical space surrounded by fourfold rows of columns adorned with the figures of 96 saints, which was to become the most famous colonnade in the world.
- In the early 19th century, the romantic poet Wilhelm Muller wrote that the tall colonnade encircled St Peter’s Square at night “as if with shimmering arms”.
- Bernini himself envisaged the colonnade as representing the arms of God enfolding the faithful, and the architecture of the square has received praise throughout the centuries for the elegance of its sublime proportions. A smaller square, the Piazza Retta, adjoins the great square. Its enclosed sides lend an air of greater intimacy.
- In the centre of St Peter’s square today is an obelisk (132 feet high) brought from Egypt to Rome in 37 CE during the reign of Caligula.
- Originally it was located on the hill of the Vatican in Nero’s Circus – the site of St Peter’s martyrdom – when he was crucified. It was brought to its present location in 1586, and is revered as a “witness” to Peter’s death.
- Its move must have been an astounding spectacle since it took 140 horses and 900 labourers to move the 385 ton monolith to its new site, using a complex rope winch system.
St. Peter’s Cathedral Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the St. Peter’s Cathedral across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use St. Peter’s Cathedral worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the St. Peter’s Basilica which is one of the largest churches in the world, and was built on the burial site of St. Peter, one of Christ’s apostles, on Vatican Hill in Vatican City. The first St. Peter’s Basilica was built in the fourth century by Emperor Constantine, but by the 1400s it was almost in ruins.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- St. Peter’s Cathedral at Vatican City Facts
- Fascinating Facts
- St. Peter’s Timeline
- Look Back
- Dream Cathedral
- The Pope
- The Contributors
- SPCVC Puzzle
- See, Think, Wonder
- Only in St. Peter
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Link will appear as St. Peter’s Cathedral Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, September 15, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.