By Kelly Legg

Welcome to the first edition of Faith and Footprints. Each month we will be exploring a new church, it’s history and the significance to the region. Churches are some of mankind’s most beautiful and inspiring creations built to honor God. Some of these churches, cathedrals, temples and basilicas took hundreds of years to build and have stood the test of time. We’re going to begin with one of the most well-known churches: St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy – inside Vatican City.

St. Peter’s is regarded as one of the holiest Catholic shrines. Construction of the basilica began in 1506 and was finally completed in 1615. It is considered one of the most renowned works of Renaissance architecture.

The interior of St. Peter’s Basilica is impressive in size, as it remains one of the two largest churches in the world. It covers an area of almost six acres and has a capacity of more than 60,000 people. Inside the basilica is one of the largest displays of Renaissance monuments and decoration, commissioning the talents of many great artists of the time. Michelangelo designed the dome in 1547, which measures 448 ft. from the floor of the basilica to the top of the external cross. It is the tallest dome in the world.

There are 140 hand-carved statues depicting various saints that sit at the top of the colonnade around St. Peters. The statues were completed by many artists over a period of 41 years. In addition, St. Peter’s houses at least half a million books and manuscripts which accounts for the largest collection of ancient art in the world. St. Peter’s houses a vast scope of paintings, murals, sculptures and architectural details, all housed under one roof.

In addition to the beautiful architecture and amazing art, crowds gather in front of St. Peter’s regularly to see the Pope appears at the window overlooking the square to offer blessings.

The Basilica is the burial site of its namesake St. Peter, one of the Apostles of Jesus and the first Pope and Bishop of Rome. There is historical data that St. Peter’s tomb is directly below the high altar of the Basilica. In addition, many Popes have been interred at St. Peter’s.

With its so many interesting details and stories hidden all around the building, it’s no wonder that St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the most famous and visited monuments in Rome and Italy.