The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the State of the Vatican City includes many chapels and altars. Many of the chapels and altars contain the bodies, remains, or relics of deceased popes.
The Chapel of Saint Sebastian is named after the altarpiece, a mosaic created by Pier Paulo Cristofari between 1730-1736. From 1743-1755, Christofari was the Director of the Vatican Mosaic Studio and was responsible for the production of many of the altarpieces in the basilica. The mosaic was designed after a painting created by Domenico Zampieri, better known as Domenichino, in 1628-1631. The remains of Pope Innocent XI lie beneath the altar.
The Altar of Saint Jerome is the final resting place of Pope John XXIII who died in 1963 and was beatified on September 3, 2000 by Pope John Paul II. In 2001, John XXIII’s tomb was opened so that his body could be transferred to the basilica. Witnesses reported that his body had remained incorrupt. The body, embalmed and covered in wax, can be viewed through a glass window under the Altar of Saint Jerome.
Below the Altar of Gregory the Great is a marble sarcophagus containing relics of Pope Gregory I. The altarpiece is a mosaic created in 1772 by Alessandro Cocchi and Vincenzo Castellini from an original by Andrea Sacchi. The mosaic shows Pope Gregory I cutting a linen cloth that had been on St. Peter’s tomb when it suddenly bled. Pope Gregory’s name is associated with the Gregorian Chants, which he promoted.
The Altar of the Transfiguration includes Monosilio’s mosaic copy of Raphael’s Transfiguration. The upper part of the mosaic shows the transfiguration itself while the lower part of the image shows a crowd surrounding a possessed boy. The original painting had been displayed at Raphael’s deathbed and headed the procession when Raphael’s body was brought to the Pantheon to be interred there.
The Chapel of Saint Sebastian
SOURCE: The Chapel of Saint Sebastian (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.
Pope John XXIII
SOURCE: Pope John XXIII (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.
The Altar of Saint Gregory the Great
SOURCE: The Altar of Saint Gregory the Great (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.
The Altar of the Transfiguration
SOURCE: The Altar of the Transfiguration (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.
Copyright © 2011 by Stephen J. Danko