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A Tale of Two Tassels - Raphael and Holbein in The National Gallery, London

March 3, 2017

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San Pietro in Vincoli (Saint Peter In Chains), Rome

 

San Pietro in Vincoli (English: Saint Peter In Chains) is a small-ish church in Rome, on what used to be the outskirts of the city. The most famous resident is Michelangelo's sculpture of Moses... originally intended as part of the funerary monument of Pope Julius II. In fact - it IS Pope Julius II's funerary monument... just not the way it was originally intended. The story of Julius' tomb is one of the central adult themes and recurring nightmares that plagued his career. So I had to see this; paired down as it is. That's why I made the trek up the winding hill and steep steps, about a half mile up from the coliseum... to see another Michelangelo.

 

 

This church was originally built circa 420 AD to house a relic which still remains... the manacles and chains that bound Saint Peter in Jerusalem, which were given as a gift to an early Pope.

 

 

Legend has it the chains that shackled Peter when he was held in Jerusalem, and the ones that bound him at the end of his life when he was held in a Roman prison... were 'miraculously fused together' when the pope held them near one another. It is these miraculously fused together chains that are still on display in a reliquary at the center of the cathedral. Two huge chains; one said to be from Jerusalem and one Roman. Both used to shackle the original pope.

 

I guess if you believe - then they really did fuse together. For my 2¢ someone kept both chains for themselves and replaced them with a (literal) double... but there's something to be said about ANYTHING that survives so long.

 

Anyway. A bunch of popes were also elected here, before the 'modern' era of voting at st. peter's basilica. I was there for Michelangelo's Moses though and don't at all regret making the trip. As striking as the Michelangelo is, so are several of the funerary monuments flanking the nave. I didn't catch the intricacies of the history so don't know who these men were, or if they died during plague; but the 'memento mori' aspect of their tombs is striking. I went there to sketch the Moses but wound up drawing these skeletal funerary ornaments instead.

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