The Main Altars and the Floor of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the State of the Vatican City holds many altars, but the two main altars are the Papal Altar and the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter.

The Papal Altar is directly above Saint Peter’s tomb and is surmounted by a canopy – the Baldacchino – created by Bernini.  The Pope is the only person who ever celebrates Mass at the Papal Altar.

The altarpiece of the Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter, also by Bernini, includes an oak throne in which fragments of acacia wood are embedded.  These pieces of acacia wood are thought to have been part of the chair in which Saint Peter sat when he instructed the faithful in Rome.  The chair is flanked by Saint Ambrose and Saint Anthanasius on the left, and by Saint John Chrysostom and St. Augustine on the right.

The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter is the largest Catholic Church in the world.  On the floor of the basilica are markers to show the length of the next 31 largest churches, including:

  • St John Lateran, Rome, Italy at 121.84 meters
  • Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA at 120.62 meters
  • La Plata Cathedral, La Plata, Argentina at 120 meters
  • Mexico City Cathedral, Mexico City, Mexico at 119.55 meters.

The Papal Altar

The Papal Altar

SOURCE:  The Papal Altar (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.

The Baldacchino

The Baldacchino

SOURCE:  The Baldacchino (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.

The Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter

The Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter

SOURCE:  The Altar of the Chair of Saint Peter (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.

The Floor of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter

The Floor of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter

SOURCE:  The Floor of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter (State of the Vatican City); photographed by Stephen J. Danko on 10 August 2011.

Copyright © 2011 by Stephen J. Danko

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One Response to The Main Altars and the Floor of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter

  1. Thank you for posting your photos of the Vatican and all the related identifications . When we visited there a few years ago, I took lots of pictures I didn’t do nearly as good of a job identifying what I photographed. This series is a real help.

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