The (minor) Basilica of Saint Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli) in Rome is also called the Eudossiana, since it was built by Eudossiana Licinia, the daughter of the then Eastern Emperor. Eudossiana managed to procure the chains (vincoli) that bound Saint Peter and the church was subsequently constructed to keep and honor the relic.
Saint Peter in Chains Basilica Rome
Address, opening hours and admission
Address: Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, 4/A – Rome (District: Monti). Telephone: +39 0697844950 or 0697844952. Public transportation: Metro: Cavour (line B). Opening hours: 8.30-12.30 and 15-19 (from October to March 15-18). Closed: Never. Entrance fee: Free.
History and description
The first version of Saint Peter in Chains was built in the years 432-440, but after that many restorations and extensions took place, the last one in 1875.
Legend has it that when Eudossiana showed the chains to Pope Leo I, he compared them to the chains that held Saint Peter in the Mamertine prison and the two sets of chains merged.
The relics are kept in a bronze urn underneath the main altar of the church. Every year, on August 1, during a special ceremony they are shown to the faithful.
For art lovers the San Pietro in Vincoli is a must-see, thanks to Michelangelo’s famous statue of Moses. It is considered to be one of his masterpieces and shows Moses at the moment he receives the 10 commandments. He is depicted with two horns, which is the result of a mistranslation of the Bible. It should have been a halo of light.
The Moses is part of the tomb for Pope Julius II, who is buried in the basilica. Other people buried there are the artist Antonio Pollaiuolo and Cardinal Cinzo Aldobrandini, whose tomb is embellished with a picture of the man with the scythe.
The basilica consists of one nave with two aisles and three apses separated by ancient Doric columns.
The ceiling frescoes, themed “The Miracle of the Chains”, were made in 1706 and were done by Giovanni Battista Parodi.
The tomb of Cardinal Cinzio Aldobrandini at the second altar on the left is decorated with a rather sinister sculpture of the man with the scythe. It dates from 1707 and is the work of Pierre Legros the Younger.