May 26, 2022

Press Release

Vatican Library loans early prints of St. Peter’s Basilica for new exhibit at Museum of the Bible

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON — On May 27, Museum of the Bible will open Basilica Sancti Petri: The Transformation of Saint Peter’s Basilica, an exhibit that explores how the architecture of the world’s most famous church has changed over the centuries, from its roots in the secular Roman basilica, to the Latin cross-shaped grand cathedral it is today. The exhibition was made possible by Dr. Corinna Ricasoli, Consultant Curator of Fine Arts, and generous loans from the Vatican Apostolic Library.

The display was inspired by “Basilica Sancti Petri”, a publication from 2014, by the Vatican Library, which chronicles the history of the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. With this as a base, Ricasoli researched additional prints that illustrate the transformation of this iconic church. Through the work of famous architects and engravers—such as Antonio da Sangallo, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Carlo Fontana, Agostino Veneziano, Antoine Lafréry, and others—the prints on display offer a glimpse into the many architectural projects for Saint Peter’s Basilica and into the final layout chosen for it. 

“The history of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome is, in many ways, the history of church architecture,” said Jeffrey Kloha, Chief Curatorial Officer at Museum of the Bible. “We are grateful for the collaboration with the Vatican Apostolic Library. Their efforts and generosity have made it possible for people in Washington to view this history in person through these beautiful prints.” 

 The exhibit, which will run through August 28, is part of Museum of the Bible’s long-term exhibit from the Vatican, Treasures from the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library. It is included in the general admission price.