Location in St Peter's


The Central Nave


Square & Area

Colonnade Saints

Virtues Map
North Nave Wall
South Nave Wall


The red porphyry disc at the entrance, taken from the old basilica, is the stone on which Charlemagne and other Emperors were crowned.

The measurements of the largest churches in the world are recorded in brass letters on the center of the floor.

The statues on the side pillars are among the 39 in the basilica of saints that founded religious orders. For complete list see: Founder Saints

Letters on the South (Left) Wall of the Nave from Lk 22:32:
 "I have prayed for you Peter, that your faith may never fail; and you in turn must strengthen your brothers"

Statues of Virtues: 1.Ecclesiastical Authority; 2. Divine Justice; 3. Virginity; 4. Obedience; 5. Humility;
6. Patience; 7. Justice; 8. Fortitude

The Measurements of the Basilica - from Guide to St Peter's Basilica, 2003

Covered Area - 20.139 sq m.

Internal Length - 186.30m

Transept - 137.85m

Nave & Aisles - 58m

Nave at Entrance - 25.7m wide

Nave near Transept - 23m wide

Nave Length - 98m

Nave Height at apex of Vault - 45.5m

Side Aisle - 10.2m high
With Arches - 23.5m

Dome, Internal Diameter - 41.5m

Dome, External - 58.9m

Dome Arches - 44.8 m high, 23 m wide

Floor to small vault in the Lantern - 117.57m

Floor to cross - 133.3m

Circumference of the internal cornice - 593m

Circumference of External cornice - 1778m


From: Catholic Encyclopedia
In accordance with the calculations of Carlo Fontana

Height of the Nave
151.5 feet

Width of Nave
At Entrance - 90.2 ft
At Tribune - 78.7 ft

Length of Transepts
451 ft

Length of Basilica including vestibule
693.8 ft

Height from pavement at Confession to the oculus of Lantern
404.8 ft

To summit of cross surmounting the Lantern
434.7 ft

The measurements of the interior diameter of the dome vary somewhat, being generally computed at 137.7 ft, thus exceeding the dome of the Pantheon by a span of 4.9 ft.

The surface area of St Peter's is 163,182,2 sq ft.


















Letters on the North (Right) Wall of the Nave from Mt. 16:19
"I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven"

Statues of Virtus: 9. Charity; 10. Faith; 11. Innocence; 12. Peace; 13. Clemency; 14. Constancy; 15. Mercy; 16. Fortitude

From: 'St. Peter's - Guide to the Basilica and Square'

In this nave seats were installed for the Council Fathers who celebrated the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council here from 1962 to 1965. As for as the third pilaster it was built by Carlo Maderno. It is 45 m. high (137 beneath the dome) 27 m. wide (140 m. in the transept) and 187 m. long. It is bordered by three couples of massive pilasters, with Corinthian pilaster strips. Above the pilasters are six arches (three on each side) which support the long trabeation under the barrel vault enhanced with late 18th-century coffers during the pontificate of Pope Pius VI.

On the trabeation which extends the whole length of the basilica is a Latin text in large black letters on a gold background. On the left, starting from the back it reads: "Ego rogavi pro te, o Petre, ut non deficiat fides tua: et tu aliquando converses confirma fraters tuos" ("I have prayed for you Peter, that your faith may never fail; and you in turn must strengthen your brothers" Lk 22:32). On the right, starting above the statue of St. Peter and extending to the back wall,are the words: "Quodcumque ligaveris super terram, erit ligatum etin coelis: et quodcumque solveris super terram, erit solutum et in coelis" ("I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven." Mt 16:19).

At the beginning of the central nave the visitors' gaze is attracted to two holy water stoups that provide a clue to the basilica's real size: the cupids which seem small are in fact 2 m. tall. The basins containing the holy water are the work of Francesco Moderati (1680-1721) and A. Cornacchini (1685-1740), (on the left); and by Giuseppe Lironi (1668-1749) and G. B. De Rossi (on the right). They offer the holy water so that those who enter may make the sign of the cross, in memory of their own baptism.

Close to the entrance to this nave a great disc of red porphyry stands out against the marble paving. It comes from the old basilica, where it was located near the main altar. Kneeling on it, the Emperor Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by Pope Leo III, at Christmas in the year 800. Another 21 emperors subsequently knelt on this same disc to receive the crown of the Holy Roman Empire from the Pope's hands.

As they proceed, visitors are curious to observe the measurements of the 15 largest churches in the world recorded in brass letters on the pavement. Toward the center of the nave, the Holy Year of the Redemption proclaimed by Pius XI in 1933 is also recalled by an inscription on the floor.

The nave was decorated by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was commissioned by Innocent X in 1645 to complete the decoration of the pilasters and chapels. He and his assistants are therefore responsible for the various decorations: the cherubs, the doves and the symbols of the papacy such as the tiara and the keys.

On the inner sides of the colossal pilasters, between the pilaster strips are two sequences of niches which contain 39 statues of the founders of religious orders and congregations, placed here as from the beginning of the 18th century. Many of their faces are familiar to us. They all remind us to live the Gospel and to follow Jesus. On the right, starting at entrance are: St. Theresa of Jesus (below) and St. Sofia Maddalena Barat (above), St. Vincent de Paul and St. John Eudes, St. Philip Neri and St. John Baptist de la Salle, St. John Bosco (above the statue of St. Peter). On the left are: St. Peter of Alcantara and St. Lucia Filippini, St. Camillo de Lellis, St. Louis Grignion de Montfort, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria, St. Francis de Paola, St. Peter Fourier. As we shall see later, the saints continue in the transept.

From: 'St. Peter's Basilica - A Virtual Tour'
by Our Sunday Visitor
When entering the Basilica, the feeling of admiration and astonishment created by the grandeur of the interior and its decorations go beyond all expectations, and such feelings are enhanced while moving slowly along the central aisle, inevitably attracted first by the Canopy rising under the extremely bright opening of the dome, and then by the Confession, which is the epicenter of this Temple.

In reality, the vastness of the general architecture and its special elements is not immediately perceived, because all the decorations added to the bare wall structures, and completed by Maderno at the end of the 16th century, were executed gradually with a great unifying sense of proportions. This balance was initially imposed by Bernini's supervision in the 17th century: the second great master who, after Michelangelo, left the most significant influence on St. Peter's, with a talent in which the Baroque spirit of the century is personified but always with a "classical" respect for the previous architectural space.

In effect, in the 17th century and quite satisfactorily also in the next century, the decorations made in the central aisle were successfully harmonized with the majestic grandeur of the space and its supporting elements designed by Michelangelo, with what is at least a three-fold increase in normal human proportions.

To recognize this it is only necessary to move toward the two holy water fonts (stoups) which are located at the end of the first arcade and do not capture much attention from the entrance; but, upon closer inspection, display all their grandeur with their more than two-meter tall chubby angels. They were created from 1722 to 1725, based on designs by Cornacchini, while the Sienna yellow basins were created by Giuseppe Lironi and the previously mentioned putti by Francesco Moderati.

The largest churches in the world as listed on the nave floor of St. Peter's.

1. TEMPLVM VATICANVM * M.186.36, (St Peter's in the Vatican)
2. LONDINENSIS S.PAVLIS FANVUM * M.158.10, (St Paul's, London, UK)
3. FLORENTINA METROPOLITANA * M.149.28, (The Duomo, Florence, Italy)
4. ECCLESIA SS. CORDIS JESV BRVXELLIS * M.140.94, (Sacred Heart of Jesus, Brussels, Belgium)
    (Immaculate Conception, Washington DC, USA)
6. ECCLESIA CATHEDRALIS RHEMENSIS * M.138.69, (Rheims Cathedral, Rheims, France)
7. PRIMARIVM TEMPLVM MEDIOLEANENSE * M.134.94, (The Duomo, Milan, Italy)
8. TEMPLVM CATHEDRALE COLONIENSE * M.134.94, (Cologne Cathedral, Cologne, Germany)
9. ECCLESIAS CATHEDRALIS SPIRENSIS * M.134, (Speyer Cathedral, Speyer, Germany)
10. BASILICA S. PETRONII BONONIAE * M.132.54, (San Petronio, Bologna, Italy)
11. TEMPLVM METROP. HISPALEN SEVILLA * M.132, (Seville Cathedral, Seville, Spain)
12. BASILICA METROP. B.M.V. PARISIEN * M.130, (Notre Dame, Paris, France)
13. BASILICA S. PAVLI VIA OSTIENSI * M.127.36, (St Paul's Outside the Walls, Rome, Italy)
14. ECCLESIA CATHEDRALIS S. VITI PRAGAE * M.124, (St Vitus, Prague, Czech Republic)
15. PRIMITIALIS ECCLESIA TOLENTANA - M.122, (Toledo Cathedral, Toledo, Spain)
16. S.S. ECCLESIA LATERANENSIS - M.121.84, (St John Lateran, Rome, Italy)
   (Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles, CA.)
   (La Plata Cathedral, La Plata, Argentina)
  (Mexico City Cathedral, Mexico City, Mexico)
  (Antwerp Cathedral, Antwerp, Belgium)
21. ECCL. S. IVSTINAE V.M. PATAVIN - M.118.50, (Santa Giustina, Padua, Italy)
22. BASILICA CATHEDRALIS ESZTERGOM - M.118, (Esztergom Cathedral, Esztergom, Hungary)
23. ECCLESIA CATHEDRALIS FERRARIENS - M.118, (Ferrara Cathedral, Ferrara, Italy)
  (Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, Assisi, Italy)
25. BASILICA CATHEDRALIS SYDNEYENSIS - M.114.61, (St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney)
26. CATH. METROP. SANCTI PAVLI BRASILIA - M.111.45, (St Paul's, Brasilia, Brazil)
   (Westminster Cathedral, London)
  (Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey)
  (Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Boston, MA.)
  (Basilica of the Virgin Mary, Gdansk, Poland)
  (St Patrick's, New York, USA)


The Christian Emperors crowned in the Vatican Basilica

1. December 24, 800 Charlemagne by Leo III
2. April 5, 823 Lothar I by St. Paschal I
3. December 2, 850 Ludovico II by St Leo IV
4. December 25, 875 Carlo il Calvo by John VIII
5. December 25, 881 Carlo il Grosso by John VIII
6. February 21, 891 Guido duke of Spoleto by Stephen V
7. 895 Arnolfo di Carinzia by Formosus
8. February 901 Ludovic III of Provence by Benedict IV
9. March 24, 915 Berengario duke of Friuli by John X
10. February 2, 962 Otto I the Great by John XII
11. December 25, 967 Otto II by John XIII
12. May 21, 996 Otto III by Gregory V
13. February 14, 1014 Henry II of Germany by Benedict VIII
14. March 26, 1027 Conrad II of Salico by John XIX
15. December 25, 1046 Henry III the Black by Clement II
16. April 13, 1111 Henry V by Paschal II
17. June 18, 1155 Federico I Barbarossa by Adrian IV
18. April 15, 1191 Henry VI by Celestine III
19. October 4, 1209 Otto IV by Innocent III
20. November 22, 1220 Federico II by Honorius III
21. April 5, 1355 Charles VI by Pietro Bertrand, bishop of Ostia on behalf of Innocent VI
22. May 31, 1433 Sigmund of Luxembourg by Eugenius IV
23. March 19, 1452 Federico III by Nicholas V