Images of the Basilica of St. Peter on this Feast of the Cathedra

Here are a few photos of St. Peter’s taken last year on this feast of the Cathedra of St. Peter.

It is pretty dark in the Basilica, so steady is the name of the game. Here is a shot through the columns over the main altar toward the apse, where you can see the candles arrayed.

A closer view.

The bronze Cathedra is decorated with lighted candles only once a year, today.

The black bronse statue of St. Peter attributed to the marvelous Arnulfo di Cambio was always dressed up in his cope and tiara, with a ring on his finger and pectoral Cross on two days, 29 June and today. Then the moderists in the Fabrica started fooling around. Too triumphalistic. They started cutting out elements. But all of them were back today except for the griccia alb, which I can live without I guess.

And ….

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. I thought it had been said that this “setup” in your pictures had been lessened in the last year or two. Is this true this year?

  2. DJY says:

    It’s been years since I made it to the basilica, so I can’t remember if the statue is life-sized. Is the tiara also life-sized, and if so, did it belong to someone, specifically?

  3. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:

    I can bet this is the cope our Holy Father will wear for the palm procession on Palm Sunday at St. Peter’s Square.
    It is exactly the style of the cope he wore for the Ash Wednesday procession.

  4. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:


    Yes, the statue is life-sized.
    And yes, the tiara is one of the actual tiaras worn by Popes.

  5. Gustavo Ráez-Patiño says:

    Now I remember having seen this cope (or a very similar one) worn by Cardinal Martínez Somalo (Camerlengo then) at JPII’s funerals, and then by Cardinal Ruini on Vespers at St. John Lateran before the opening of the canonization process of JPII.

  6. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Over at the NLM blog there was a claim that this year the statue (in a beautiful cope and tiara) WAS in fact wearing the alb.

  7. I was the one posting on this at the NLM.
    I don’t know if it’s wearing the alb: I do seem to see a sleeve of something
    peeking through on the hand raised in blessing. Can anyone comment?

  8. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    Hmmm…doesn’t look like the versus populum “Altar of the Chair” is set up in a Benedictine arrangement.

  9. Jack says:

    Which shows that the tiaras are not gathering dust or locked up in glass cases. How much for it coming out on either this Easter or next?

  10. jack burton says:

    For some reason I highly doubt that Pope Benedict is all about the tiara. I would be very, very surprised if he ever sported it.

  11. Jacob says:

    So /which/ altar is it that got removed in St. Peter’s? I always get confused because I thought it was the Altar of the Chair…


  12. Ole Doc Farmer says:

    The REAL Altar of the Chair was amputated…there’s a new bronze versus populum jam (on wheels, no less) that has been set up in its stead. On its own, this new versus populum altar does not rise to the level of “war crime.” But the building was designed for the former (now excised) altar and this new addition looks not unlike a competently done (but wholly unnecessary) nose job. In other words, it’s weird.

    The non-Benedictine arrangement was sitting on top of the weird nose job.

  13. To Gustavo Ráez-Patiño and DJY:

    No, the tiara was not worn by one of the Popes. It is enormous…larger than life size, in order to fit on the statue. It can be seen in the small Treasury Museum in the sacristy of St. Peter’s. It is about 2 and 1/2 feet high and about 1 and 1/2 feet in diameter. That’s way too big for a person to wear. Plus, the fanons hanging off the back are detachable for this special tiara. But, it is not one of the ones worn by a Pope.

  14. seminarian says:

    Just to note, though: this vesting of St. Peter is not particular to or the result of Pope Benedict XVI. Three years ago, I lived in Rome and had the privilege to visit St. Peter’s on this day. And three years ago, the statue of St. Peter was dressed exactly as it is currently.

  15. Andy says:

    So, Fr. Z had mentioned the removal of the altar of the Chair (?). Any chance of the Pope “restoring” (as best can be done) the altar to its former glory?

  16. Jacob says:

    That would be a worthy aim, wouldn’t it?

  17. Andy says:


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