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and to-day the archæologist can pass from spot to spot and declare, with almost absolute certainty, where the successive scenes in the great drama of Roman history were played.
The Palatine is the site of the most ancient city of Rome, the Roma Quadrata, the fortress of the Pelasgi. Here, according to tradition, was tbe dwelling-place of the ShepherdKing Evander, of Faustulus and of Romulus. Here was the Palace of the Cæsars,
commenced by Augustus (who was born on the Palatine), enlarged by Tiberius, and extended by Caligula. Here, as the Palace was destroyed time after time by fire and other causes, it arose more magnificent and more extensive, till the entire area was covered, and for a long period it retained its grandeur; but when the seat of empire was removed to Constantinople its decay began, Goths and Vandals pillaged it, and now it is a mass of stupendous ruins.
Without attempting to describe it in detail, it may interest the reader to know what he can see if he walks about the Palatine Hill, “on whose summit Romulus, a simple shepherd boy, stood and watched his flight of birds of good augury, while Remus, from the adjacent
round the outsides and joining the ends-an ellipse, measuring nine hundred and thirteen feet six inches by seven hundred and fifty-four feet six inches, or two hundred and twenty-six feet four inches one way, and one hundred and eighty-nine feet four inches the other, larger than the Colosseum. To this area must be added that of the Piazza Rusticucci at one extremity, which measures two hundred and sixty-six feet three inches
by two hundred and twenty-five feet; and the irregular square in front of St. Peter's at the other, which measures three hundred and seventy-two feet nine inches by three hundred and sixty-seven feet six inches." *
A broad flight of marble steps, with colossal statues of St. Peter and St. Paul at the foot, leads up to the vestibule. Before ascending these to enter the largest church in the world, a few particulars may be given of this marvellous building, though it would require a volume to describe it in detail. It stands on the site of the Circus of Nero, the scene of the terrible martyrdoms of the Christians, and on the traditional site of the spot
• Wood, “New Curiosum Urbis."
where St. Peter was buried after his crucifixion on the Janiculum. As early as the year A.D. 106 an oratory was erected here to mark the site of St. Peter's tomb; and in the year 319, Constantine, at the suggestion of Pope St. Sylvester, founded a basilica on this spot, and worked with his own hands in its construction, by carrying twelve baskets of earth in honour of the twelve Apostles.
This basilica stood for over a thousand years, and then threatening to collapse, Nicholas V. in 1147 determined to erect a more magnificent one in its place; but the idea was not put into execution till 1506, when Julius II. laid the foundation-stone of the present church. The first architect, Bramante, designed the building on the plan of a Greek cross, but he died while the works were in a very early stage of progress. Then Raphael, with two other architects, was appointed, by whom Bramante's design was altered, and a Latin cross substituted. These architects died, as did the Popes who appointed them, and for years the works were suspended; but in the time of Paul III., Michael Angelo, then in his seventy-second year, had the superintendence of the work committed to him ; and it is one of the most marvellous events in the career of that marvellous man that in fifteen days he had completed a new design, on the plan of a Greek cross. He did not live to complete the whole work, but he succeeded in carrying the dome, according to his own design, to its present height. Under other Popes and other architects the work progressed, sometimes with extraordinary rapidity, as when Giacomo della Porta, during the pontificate of Gregory XIII., employed six hundred workmen night and day for twenty-two months, and completed it, with the exception of the lantern and the portico of the façade. The latter was entrusted to Carlo Maderno, who prolonged the nave into the form of a Latin cross, and marred the exquisite design of Michael Angelo.
Fifteen architects succeeded one another in the construction of St. Peter's during the pontificates of twenty-eight Popes, and during a period of one hundred and seventy-six years ; or, including the colonnades erected by Bernini, and the sacristy consecrated by Pius VI. in 1784, three hundred and thirty-four years. According to the calculation of Carlo Fontana, the cost, exclusive of 405,453 pounds of bronze used in constructing the chair of St. Peter and the confessional, amounted to about eleven millions of our money.
The following figures may be of interest. The space occupied by the buildings is 240,000 square feet. The façade is three hundred and seventy-two feet broad and one hundred and fifty-four high, ornamented by eight columns ninety-three feet high, and crowned with thirteen statues, nineteen feet high, of our Lord and the Apostles. The vestibule is two hundred and thirty-five feet long, forty-two wide, and sixty-six high. The length, from the statues of Constantine and Charlemagne in the wings of this atrium, is four hundred and sixty-six feet. The interior of the basilica is six hundred and nineteen feet long, and from the floor to the summit of the cross four hundred and fifty-three feet. The number of columns, within and without, including the colonnade, is seven hundred and fifty-six, of which two hundred and forty-five are in the interior; the number of statues, three hundred and ninety-six. “There are forty-six altars and one hundred and twenty-one lamps, the greater number of which are always kept burning. One hundred and thirty-two Popes have been interred here, counting from St. Peter to Gregory XVI.” The sum annually expended in keeping the building in repair is 30,000 scudi, or £6,300 sterling.
The impression produced on the mind of the beholder on entering the nave has been given a hundred times over, and in a hundred different ways. One sees it like some great work of nature rather than the work of man, unparalleled in beauty and of surpassing splendour; another sees a noble work desecrated by vanity and ambition; in one it inspires reverential awe and worship, in another it gives the impression of a pantheon rather than of a Christian church; one sees in it a place in which the soul may find a heaven, another sees “the angels in the baptistery enormous giants; the doves, colossal birds of prey.” One feels that it is a place in which every Christian heart can find rest and satisfaction; to another it appears “like an apotheosis of the popedom rather than a glorification of Christianity and its doctrines.”
Whatever other feeling may impress the visitor on first entering St. Peter's, there is one which is universally felt: it is the failure to recognise the real magnitude of the edifice; nor can the mind be disabused of the idea that the church is only of ordinary size until the eye has accustomed itself to take in the immensity of the whole by careful examination of different parts. For instance, the cherubs supporting the fonts for holy water appear to be but models of little children; standing beside them, however, they are found to be larger than ordinary grown-up people. There are ledges and ornaments on the pilasters which the guides take pleasure in asking if you think you can reach, and the visitor unhesitatingly replies in the affirmative; but on nearing the object, he finds it is as high again as he anticipated. It is by such devices as these that the colossal size of the building is estimated, but it is a controverted point whether or not it is a radical defect in architecture to need such aids. On the floor of the nave there are stars indicating the length of the building as compared with others : viz., St. Peter's itself, 619 feet; St. Paul's, London, 5161 feet; Duomo, Florence, 495 feet; Milan Cathedral, 448 feet; St. Petronio, Bologna, 440 feet; St. Sophia, Constantinople, 364 feet, &c.
On the right side of the nave is the celebrated bronze statue of St. Peter, whose extended foot has been kissed by generations of worshippers until it is worn out of shape. It is asserted by antiquarians, and others, that this is a statue of Jupiter adapted to its present purpose, the symbolical key being placed in one hand and a halo over the head. One thinks of the joke of Dean Swift, that the only difference between the ancient and the modern city was that the one was the worship of Jupiter and the other the worship of Jew Peter. It is curious how the Roman Catholic Church has always had the knack of adapting what it finds to its own purpose;—this statue, for example, is only a transformed statue of Jupiter, executed in the worst days of paganism; the Column of the Immaculate Conception was an unfinished column of an amphitheatre, and lay for centuries in neglect, till Pius IX. found a use for it, to commemorate a dogma; and the very chair of St. Peter las carvings on the back representing the labours of Hercules, and an inscription in Arabic proclaiming that “there is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet!”
Standing beside the statue of St. Peter, one of the finest, or perhaps the finest view of the dome is obtained, but it is impossible to convey any idea in writing of the magnificence of this stupendous vault; it is useless to give the measurements or other details. “The cupola,” says Forsyth, "is glorious, viewed in its design, its altitude, or even its decorations ; viewed either as a whole or as a part, it enchants the eye, it satisfies the taste, it expands the soul. The very air seems to eat up all that is harsh or colossal, and leaves us nothing but the sublime to