Monday, October 08, 2007

Old St. Peter's

It seems strange when thinking of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, to think of it as the "new" church , but of course, as is commonly known, prior to that marvelous wonder of renaissance architecture stood another venerable structure in the Roman Basilica style dating from the time of Constantine.

A nineteenth century drawing gives one possible view of the outside of the old basilica:

I've often seen external drawings of the older basilica, but seldom had I seen a satisfying portrayal of what the inside is purported to have looked like. That changed when I recently stumbled across a review by Duncan Stroik of a book that looks at the history of the Basilica of St. Peter. Unfortunately, I cannot tell the age of the drawing to know whether it is from the period, or if it is a later reconstruction, so it is difficult to tell how authoritative or speculative the rendering in fact is. (If any of our architectural readership knows the origin of this depiction, or any other information about the old basilica of St. Peter's, please do share in the comments. )

That caveat aside, what I found particularly interesting in this painting is the ciborium over the high altar.

In this same book, however, was a period drawing of the apse that can be seen in the drawing above:

An interesting bit of history of one of the most significant basilicas in Christendom.

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