NOT the first time in the Vatican City but it was a first time to enter St. Peter’s Basilica. On the previous visit, the place was closed thus the admiration of “one of the holiest Catholic sites” was limited to the exterior.

The second time was sweeter. I got past beyond the majestic doors and stood like a dwarf in the magnificence of “the greatest of all churches of Christendom.” There is truth to the honorific bestowed to this church. Once you step inside, I got the goose bumps. Is it because of my Catholic upbringing or my unexplainable attraction to churches? Most probably. Others may admire it as they would a museum. It’s admiration just the same.

Who wouldn’t be in awe of the grandeur of St. Peter’s? Every inch of this basilica’s interior spells lavish—wrapped in marble and reliefs, gilding and impressive architectural detailing. The combined efforts of the principal designers—Donato Baramante, Michaelangelo, Carlo Marno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini—made the basilica “the most renowned work of Renaissance architecture.” Within its walls are some of the most renowned works of art—the Pieta of Michaelangelo; Bernini’s baldachin, the central feature of the basilica, and his sculptural ensemble that includes the symbolic Chair of St. Peter (presumed to have been used by the apostle, Peter), and many more outstanding creations housed in niches and chapels.

The basilica is also the resting place of the apostle the place was named after—St. Peter, who, by tradition, was the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. His tomb is said to be directly below the basilica’s altar. It then became a tradition for the other Popes to be interred in the same place.

Surprisingly, St. Peter’s Basilica is not the Pope’s official seat and does not hold the top rank in the four major basilicas of Rome. The Archbasilica of St. John Lateran happens to be the mother church of all churches and parishes in the Catholic realm.

But thanks to the size and accessibility to the Papal residence, St. Peter’s is the surely the Pope’s principal church where most of the Papal ceremonies take place.

Wouldn’t it be great to hear mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City? Wouldn’t it be awesome if it was celebrated by Pope Francis himself?

Ceremonies, depending on the celebration or expected number of people attending, can either be held within the basilica, which can hold 15,000 people, or St. Peter’s Square for a larger audience that can reach 80,000, or sometimes in both. Tickets are required and these can be acquired for free from the Swiss Guards 3 days before the mass. For more popular masses during Easter and Christmas Eve, request for tickets 2 months in advance. But having a ticket doesn’t necessarily guarantee a seat, arrive early and you get to sit. The church or square reaches its capacity a ticket holder will be denied entry.

It would have been possible for us for there was a scheduled mass around the time our group visited St. Peter’s. Sadly we had no tickets. Maybe on the next visit, it will happen. But for now, finding ourselves within the great and holy place of the Roman Catholics was enough blessing.

In the name of the Father, of the Son and the Holy Spirit…..


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