San Pietro in Vincoli

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Continuing with my series on Rome’s Catholic Churches, two weeks ago we went to San Pietro in Vincoli, or St. Peter in Chains. I’m glad I have Jaime to guide me through the significance of all these churches, otherwise I’d honestly be dozing off at the sight of another one. 🙂

Picture of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, Italy
Giovanni Battista Parodi’s The Miracle of the Chains fresco on the ceiling

San Pietro in Vincoli was consecrated in the year 439 (whoa, right?) and famous for Michelangelo’s statue of Moses as well as the chains that bound St. Peter while he was imprisoned in Jerusalem.

Michelangelo’s statue of Moses was commissioned by Pope Julius 11 in 1505 to be his tomb, but it wasn’t completed until 1545, on a much smaller scale than was originally planned. According to legend, Michelangelo felt this was his most lifelike statue and when he completed it, he hit the knee of the statue and said, “Now, speak!” The scar on Moses’ knee is thought to be the point where Michelangelo’s hammer struck (he sounds like quite the character).

Picture of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, Italy

As for St. Peter’s chains, placed beneath the altar, legend has it that when Pope Leo I received the chains and compared them to the chains from St. Peter’s final imprisonment in the Mamertine Prison in Rome, the two chains miraculously fused together. The Church has some pretty colorful stories surrounding all these relics, if you ask me, but they make for interesting trivia.

Picture of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, Italy
St. Peter’s chains beneath the altar.


All in all, I have to admit that I still liked the Chiesa del Gesù’s decorations a lot more, but the stories behind the art and relics in this church are still pretty impressive. Here are a few other pictures:

If you want to visit San Pietro in Vincoli, it is in the Monti area of Rome, near Via Cavour and also the Colosseum.

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Blogger at My Napoleon Complex, wife, husky mom, and American Expat living in Rome, Italy.