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Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peters

2 Ratings: 3.5
2007 non-fiction book by R.A. Scotti

On Writing BASILICA    I first saw St. Peter's Basilica on a scorching, late September day of my first week in Rome. I was nineteen and spending a year in Italy. An Italian cousin picked me up in the morning in a green–and-black … see full wiki

Author: R.A. Scotti
Genre: History, Religious Buildings, Vatican
Date Published: June 8, 2006
1 review about Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal:...

Absorbing history that reads like a soap opera.

  • Oct 18, 2009
As a lifelong and very active Catholic I was shocked to learn just how little I knew about the history of St. Peter's in Rome.   For example, I was totally unaware that Constantine erected the first St. Peter's in the year 312 A.D. and that the original structure survived for more than 1200 years!   And I had certainly never read very much about how the current St. Peter's came to be either.  "Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's" tells the remarkable story of the planning and constructon of what many consider to be among the most beautiful and recognizable edifices in the world.  It is a tale with more twists and turns, heroes and villains, triumphs and disappointments than one could ever imagine.  It is a spellbinding story.

The prime mover and shaker behind the second St. Peter's was Pope Julius II. The year was 1505. Julius envisioned a structure that would "embody the greatness of the present and the future."  The new St. Peter's would dwarf the constructions of the Caesars and proclaim the power and glory of Christ and His Church.  The pope would assemble the most brilliant minds in Rome and would spare no expense to achieve his dream.  Among those he recruited for the project were Bramante, Raphael and yes, Michaelangelo.  But building the new St. Peter's would turn out to be a much more costly and time consuming proposition than anyone could have ever imagined.
"Basilica" tells the amazing story of what would turn out to be a 162 year project. The tale is replete with nasty politics, betrayal, bitter rivalries, greed and a variety of other moral shortcomings.  But in the end the good really does outweigh the bad.  R.A. Scotti writes of the remarkable engineering and architectural feats that made the new St. Peter's possible.  She reminds us all of the genius of artists like Michaelangelo and Raphael.  And she chronicles the perseverance of so many of the Holy Fathers who were determined to overcome the numerous obstacles that arose and to see this project through.

Now I suspect that for those who are already well versed in these matters "Basilica" will probably not break a whole lot of new ground.  But for the rest of us "Basilica:  The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's" is a great introduction to so many of these topics.  R.A. Scotti succeeded in holding my interest from cover to cover.    Recommended!
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October 18, 2009
Good review. I've heard of other churches/bascillas who have also had their fair share of failings, scandals and disappointments. These church projects turn out to be monumental projects and I remember seeing one in Barcelona that was never finished.....in fact, that was its nickname...."the unfinished bascilla." Perhaps if the original ideas weren't so grandiose, these projects could follow schedule and complete on time and within budget!
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