Monument of Urban the VIII, of the Barberini Family. He was the pope who consecrated the present church in 1626 and who destroyed the roof of the Pantheon. To cast cannons for the defence of the church. The monument is the best among the works of Bernini in this church; the figure of the Pope with his hands outstretched, in the act of blessing, was imitated by Canova in the figure of Clement XIV in the church of SS. Apostles in Rome.
Below the Pope are two statues of Charity and Justice and a skeleton intent in inscribing the name of the pope in the list of death.
On the left is the:
Monument of Paul III in St. Peter’s Basilica – Rome.
Monument of Paul III, of the Farnese Family (1534-1549); a Roman Pope who approved the order of the Jesuits and the first pope born in Rom, since the time of Martin V. The tomb, which is considered to be one of the most important monuments in St Peter’s, is the work of Guglielmo della Porta, a pupil of Michelangelo, who is said to have given the design. In fact the position of the two allegorical figures of Prudence and Justice recall the tomb of the Medici in Florence. The figure of Justice, on the left, is said to be the portrait of Giulia Farnese, the pope’s sister; the one of the right, that of Giovanna Gaetani, the pope’s mother.
The statue of justice, once entirely nude, was covered up by a whitewashed bronze drapery. In the marble slabs, around the tribune, are inscribed the names of all the bishops and cardinals who accepted the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, proclaimed here by Pius IX in 1854. In the small transept on the right of the tribune we see the:
Monument of Alexander VIII in St. Peter’s Basilica – Rome.
Monument of Alexander VIII, of the Ottoboni, a venetian family.
Opposite the mosaic of:
Peter Healing the lame-born man from an original by Mancini.
Next comes, on the right, the altar of St. Leo the Great; above which is the:
Bas-relief. The flight of Attila said to be the largest ever executed in marble and the masterpiece of Algardi, (1583-1654); it represents the most important events in the pope’s life or the liberation of Rome from invasion of Attila (Flagellum Dei). Leo the Great, a noble figure, is represented as when he went to meet Attila in the vicinity of the Po river, where the pope, as the tradition says, by showing to the barbarian king the sudden apparition of the two Apostles, Peter and Paul, persuaded him to give up the invasion of Rome. Official Rome Guide, Rome walking city Tours.
The remains of the Pope under the altar, below the bas-reliefs.
The next altar, called of the “Colonna” derives its name from an image of the Virgin and Child, painted on a column of the old church. Under the Altar, in a early Christian sarcophagus, are preserved the remains of the popes: Leo III and Leo IV.
A little further, on the right, is the:
Monument of Alexander VII of the Chigi family. This monument has an especial interest, as being the last work of Bernini, which marks the end of the great career of the famous sculptor, painter and architect. This artist, among other important works, had the great merit of building not only, the large portico of St. Peter’s square, and the Royal Staircase of the Vatican, but of designing nearly all the internal decoration of the church. In the centre of the monument, the pope is represented as kneeling on a beautiful curtain of jasper, which a bronze skeleton is raising up, to show the pontiff an hour-glass, marking his last hour. The allegorical figures represent: Prudence and Justice, behind, and Charity and Truth in front.
Opposite the tomb is the last mosaic, made in the Vatican factory for this church, representing:
The Apparition of the Saviour to S. Mary Alacoque, the French saint, who instituted the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Turning to the right we reach the end of the:
Left transept in the central altar of which is a mosaic from an original by Guido Reni, representing the crucifixion of St Peter head downwards and marking the spot where the cross of the apostle is said to have been erected, in the circus of Nero.
Under this altar are preserved the mortal remains of 2 apostles Simon and Juda Taddeus who together with S. Peters (resting under the high altar and other five apostles buried in various churches of the city form part of the most precious heritage of Christian Rome. Jacob and Philip rest in the church of the Holy Apostles, remaining two in their respective churches erected in their honour: St. Paul outside the walls and St. Bartholomew on the Tiber island.
Distributed around the transept, are confessionals for every Christian language, where physicians of the soul of different nationalities have, for centuries, dispensed to the sons of every continent, words of consolation, peace and remission; in accordance with the promise which shines, around the drum of the dome: Et tibi dabo Claves Regni Caelorum.
Returning to the canopy we see around the Berninian decoration of the church, which has so many admires and so many criticisers. The latter accuse the great architect of having spoiled the pure simple lines of the architecture of Bramante and Michelangelo by a profusion of useless ornaments. We must not forget however that the building was decorated during the period when the church ceremonies had reached the culminating point in pompous splendour and that the decoration had to be keeping and serve as a background for the pompous ceremonies of the church.
After having crossed the transept on the right the: