Monday, November 18, 2013

Basilicas of Sts Peter and Paul

St Peter's majestic Basilica at the Vatican, Rome

Barely a week ago, we commemorated the dedication of the Mother Church of the Catholic Church, St John Lateran. Today we commemorate the dedication of two other major basilicas combined together, St Paul outside the walls and St Peter’s basilica, known as the Vatican. These dedications are important because they symbolize in a way the birth and baptism of each edifice.
When the early persecutions ended in 313 AD by King Constantine, he later built a basilica over the tomb where St Peter was buried. It lasted almost a thousand years, and the reconstruction of the original building started in the 14th century. The present Basilica, an ingenious structure built with the collaboration of Michelangelo, Bramante, Carlo Moderno, Giovanni Pannini and Bernini was officially consecrated on November 18 1626 by Pope Urban VIII. It is by far the most imposing and impressive church in all of Christendom, where major celebrations, elections of Popes, funerals, Canonizations etc, are held.
Basilica of St Paul outside the walls, Rome
The Basilica of St Paul was started by Valentinian II on the Via Ostiense in 386, on the place where St Paul was buried. It was subsequently modified by Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th century. It has a graceful cloister that was built in the 13th century. Of all the churches of Rome, it had preserved its primitive character for 1435 years.
However a negligent fire destroyed it in 1823 and the new and present Basilica was built in the 19th century and consecrated on December 10, 1854 by Pope Pius IX. The whole world contributed to its reconstruction. The Viceroy of Egypt sent pillars of alabaster, the Emperor of Russia the precious malachite and lapis lazuli of the tabernacle. The work on the principal facade, looking toward the Tiber, was completed by the Italian Government, which declared the church a national monument. Pope Pius IX ruled that both Basilicas will have their dedication celebration together, on November 18. Both churches are majestic in appearance, but also very imposing in their stature as two of the 4 major basilicas in Rome.

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