Whether you're Catholic, christian or spiritual, you might
desire to have a prayerful experience in St Peter's Basilica.
A moment of quiet reflection in such a beautiful and sacred
place shouldn't offend anyone. It's easy to find images
of Pope Francis praying in many locations throughout the
basilica, and Pope Benedict XVI asked that St. Peter's be an authentic
place of prayer, of adoration and praise to the Lord.
holy place, where thousands of pilgrims and tourists come everyday
from all over the world, more than elsewhere it is necessary
that next to the tomb of St. Peter there be a stable community
of prayer that guarantees continuity with tradition and at the
same time intercedes for the intentions of the pope in the Church
and world today."
"Prayer is a service to the Lord, who deserves to be
praised and adored, and at the same time it is a witness to
others. And where God is praised and adored with faithfulness,
blessing is not lacking."
- Pope Benedict XVI, 8 October
* * *
Catholics believe that the mass is the greatest prayer, and
masses are held everyday that all may attend. But the
reality is that the Vatican Basilica gets more visitors than
this, we present the 'Top 7 Places to Pray in St Peter's' if
you're just making a quick visit.
While prayer should be taken seriously, this list is only one opinion
on where you might offer a prayer inside the
Basilica. This information is unofficial and not endorsed
by the Vatican. If you experience a better
place to pray, please let us know.
people are unmoved by Michelangelo's
Pieta, and many consider it one
of the greatest religious
works of art. The beauty and serenity of
lost her son Jesus, invokes a spiritual response.
popularity of the Pieta
actually prevents it from being higher on this list, because
it's always crowded in front of the Pieta
Chapel. Additionally, the glass wall
separates you from the sculpture, and it catches the constant flash of cameras.
it may not be one of the best places to pray, the Pieta
is one of the best invitations to prayer.
Come to St Peter's early in the morning to avoid the crowds,
or move to the
left or right doors of the chapel to get a more private
entire church is here because St Peter's tomb is below. The
Papal Altar with its towering baldachinno and dome above, all
point to his ancient tomb. The shrine can be viewed on three
levels; the basilica floor, the grottoes below, and the ancient
Necropolis on the lowest level. Let's look at locations
where we can get in touch with St Peter.
way to visit the Necropolis is if you're fortunate enough to book a Scavi
tour, where you get to see a piece of his ancient tomb memorial.
The end of the tour provides a time for prayer while you view
the bones found there.
grottoes offer the most direct view of the tomb area. Here
you can look directly into the Confessio area at the Niche of
the Pallium (the wall in front of the tomb). Behind
the Niche, is the
Chapel, where early morning masses are said by special
a little visit to St Peter from the basilica floor, stand before
the Papal Altar and look into the Confessio
below. The great cupola above and the baldachino around the
altar, are there to remind you that "Peter is here".
don't mind looking a bit touristy, get in line to place your
hand on the right foot of the St
Peter statue, not far from the Papal Altar, beside the St
Longinus pier. This isn't just a popular photo op, but an ancient
devotion confirmed by the worn away toes on St
often a kneeler
directly in front of the Confessio, and this may offer the
best position to talk to St Peter, the keeper of the keys.
Transept (north of the Papal Altar) you'll find the Franciscans
ready to obsolve you of your sins. Only those
participating in the
of Penance are allowed into this area. The sacrament is
offered in multiple languages.
of solitude is conducive to prayer, and provides pews
for you to sit
or kneel and pray before and after Confession.
Just getting away from
crowds and cameras on selfie sticks for a moment
has a very calming effect.
it gets busy, lines form by people standing just out of whispering
distance of their chosen language confessional. See Schedule
Joseph's Altar is in the center of the Left
Transept. Weekday masses
are held in this area at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 and 12:00 noon. This is the
largest, always accessible seating area in the basilica. So
even if you're not attending mass, it's a great place to rest,
take in the beauty
and offer thanks.
faithful who hold a devotion to St Jude, this is the place to
be. The relics of Sts Simon and Jude lie under the central
altar. This area was once known as the Tribune to St
Simon and St Jude. A small mosaic of
Jude is visible just to the right
of St Joseph's altarpiece.
left side is the Altar
of the Crucifixion of St Peter, with its mosaic being a
copy of the famous painting by Guido Reni. Since this area is
the closest to where the obelisk stood in the Circus of Nero,
it is considered to be nearest the spot to where St Peter was crucified.
TIP: This is the easiest place to attend mass
if you're a true pilgrim. Check the mass times on a sign
next to the Sacristy entrance.
Body of St John XXIII
being declared Blessed, the body of Pope John XXII (d. 1963)
brought up from the grottoes and placed under the St
Jerome Altar, which
has since become a popular devotion
Vatican Council II (1962–1965), but did not live to see its
completion. In Italy he is known as "Il Papa Buono" ("The Good
out of curiosity or true devotion, there are always
people before the body of John XXIII. While kneeling in the pews and
viewing the body of this pope, prayer
seems to be a natural response.
Get to St Peter's early in the morning (7-8am) and you might
be able to attend mass at the
St Jerome Altar.
Tomb of John Paul II
JOANNES PAULUS PP II
certainly no secret that the tomb of St John Paul II has become
one of the main reasons people visit
St Peter's. Even before he was declared Blessed, large crowds
went down into the grottoes to visit the
tomb of this great pope.
On 1 May
2011, after being declared Blessed, the body of Pope John Paul
placed inside the altar of St Sebastain. On April 27,
2014 the Pope was canonized
and the altar frontal was
changed from BEAUTUS to SANCTUS.
Paul II died on 2 April 2005, and his beautification process
began on 9 May 2005. Normally it takes five years for
this process to begin, but the waiting period
for 'exceptional circumstances', which may have been the cries
at his funeral of 'Santo Subito' .
The tomb is at the
Altar, which is next to the Pieta Chapel.
day, access is often only through the Pieta Chapel.
Blessed Sacrament Chapel
Blessed Sacrament Chapel is the place exclusively for prayer. The
at the entrance, states this in
after the 8:30am mass, the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for Eucharistic
Adoration until the 4:45pm benediction.
and solemn chapel is an artistic
gem, decorated by Bernini. But we're looking for the best places to pray, and this
chapel has been described as "the very soul of the
a story that was told by one of the 'English Guides to St Peter's',
of a unexpected visit to the basilica by John Paul II one morning.
The attendants asked him why he was making the visit. John Paul
supposedly said that St Peter's was becoming more a museum than
a church, and that there was no place reserved for prayer. The
pope then celebrated mass in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and
had it reserved thereafter as an exclusive place of prayer.
The story may be too good to be true, but the point remains,
this is the best place to pray.
Bernini's angels on the altar, provides a wonderful visual
accompaniment to prayer.
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