SAINT PETER'S BASILICA IN THE VATICAN 1506-2006

SAINT PETER'S BASILICA IN THE VATICAN 1506-2006  

The first basilica was built by the Emperor Constantine on the place where the apostle Peter was martyred. It was consecrated by Pope Silvester I in 326 and construction was finished in 349. Over the centuries, the building underwent many restorations and refacading until Julius II decided to rebuild it completely. The work started on 18 April 1506 and was entrusted to Donato Bramante. Both the Pope and the architect died shortly after the start of the construction. Raffaello was called upon to continue the project and he brought with him Giuliano da Sangallo. The two architects were involved in other projects at the time and so they alternated in heading the reconstruction work with Baldassarre Peruzzi and Michelangelo. They each had different views on how to realize the project, giving rise to a real clash over ideas and styles. A plan in the form of a Greek Cross was favoured by Michelangelo, Baldassarre Peruzzi and Bramante, while a design in the form of a Latin Cross was proposed by Raffaello and Antonio Sangallo the Younger. Pope Paul V intervened after their deaths and chose the Latin Cross design. He then entrusted the project to Carlo Maderno. The Basilica was finished in 1614 and on 18 November 1626 it was consecrated and opened for worship. The postage stamps show four medallions coined in 1506, marking the beginning of the construction work (samples of these commemorative medallions can be found on the pier of the Basilica statue of St. Veronica). On one side, the medallions depict an allegory representing the architecture with Bramante as the creator of the original design. In the background, the exterior of Michelangelo's basilica design can be seen. On the other side, Pope Julius II and the building according to Bramante's first plan are shown with a section of the Basilica appearing in the background.