Learn Your Faith...A Weekly Educational Column

 

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican

   

    The Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican is the largest Church in Christendom. It enshrines one of the holiest Christian sitesthe tomb of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles and Christ’s chosen instrument as the minister of unity.

    “Thou art Peter,” Jesus solemnly affirmed, “and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt 16:18). Since the apostle’s crucifixion in Rome under the brutal tyranny of Nero, Christians have venerated this sacred spot. Even before the close of the first century, Pope Anacletus had built a makeshift oratory over the “Fisherman’s” tomb, and when Constantine rose to power in the fourth century, a splendid basilica was built here, lavishly decorated with rare marble, mosaics, draperies, tapestries, and precious stones. The very floor around Saint Peter’s tomb was covered with silver and gold. Pilgrims from around the Roman Empire flocked here to venerate the first Pope’s relics and to admire the sumptuous beauty of his church. Despite centuries of invasionsuntil the ninth century the Vatican was outside the protection of city wallsthe structure stood for a thousand years, and it was not until the fifteenth century that Popes were obliged to consider its reconstruction.

    The present church was begun in 1506 and consecrated in 1626, precisely 1300 years after the first basilica’s consecration on November 18, 326. Architects as gifted and diverse as Bramante, Raphael, Sangallo, Michelangelo, Maderno, and Bernini all contributed to the new church’s design, though the interior is largely the fruit of Bernini’s genius. Saint Peter’s Basilica is neither the cathedral of the Holy Father (the Basilica of Saint John Lateran is the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome) nor a parish church; it is, rather, dedicated to the Universal Church and in a special way to the pilgrims who arrive to venerate the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles. You are not visiting someone else’s basilica; you are visiting your own.

    It is also important to emphasize that this is a very active church, hosting many Masses throughout the day, confessions virtually all day, baptisms, weddings, funerals, and, of course, ordinations. It is also used by the Holy Father for many ceremonial events like the celebration of principal feast days, the canonization of new saints, and the elevation of individuals to the College of Cardinals. The Roman Catholic Church has convened two Solemn Ecumenical Councils in this Basilica, the First Vatican Council from 1869 to 1870, and the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965.

    In addition, daily adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament takes place in a chapel halfway down the nave, where you may wish to spend some time in prayer during your pilgrimage to the Eternal City

To know more, click on each topic:

Baptism of The Lord

Cremation

Ephiphany I

Epiphany II

Eulogies

Euthanasia

Mass in the times of blizzard

Rosary Luminous Mysteries

Laetare Sunday

Kyrie Eleison

Veiling of the Statues during Lent

Resurrection of Our Lord

Divine Mercy Sunday

 

 

Learn Your Faith... is a weekly educational column written by Father Ringley, Pastor of The Cathedral Parish since July  of 2014.

 

The column is published weekly in the parish's bulletin and it aims to educate and broaden our knowledge of issues and details of the Church. 

 

 

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