Discover the Masterpiece St Peter’s Basilica Statues!

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Discover the 15th and 16th-century marble masterpieces of St Peter’s Basilica, standing around the interior as silent spectators for decades!

The statues of Saints, Popes, and other important figures were crafted by some of the most famous Renaissance artists, who influenced budding artists all over the world, even today.

Visitors planning to explore the Basilica must know which statues they must see while exploring and the location of all other sculptures.

In this article, you’ll learn about the brilliant statues of St Peter’s Basilica so you can spot your favorite as soon as you enter the Church!

Which is the most famous statue in St Peter’s Basilica?

If you have not already guessed, the most famous statue of the Basilica is Michelangelo’s La Pieta!

It stands in the Chapel of the Pieta, depicting a tragic scene of Mother Mary cradling the crucified body of Jesus in her arms.

The statue is made from a single block of Carrara marble between 1499 and 1500 and attracts the most visitors to the Basilica. 

La Pieta is six feet tall, and its life-like appearance creates an emotional experience for all pilgrims. 

This Michelangleo statue in St Peter’s Basilica is his only signed sculpture that exists today! 

Other Popular St Peter’s Basilica Statues

Besides the marvelous Pieta, the Basilica also has a bunch of other unique sculptures that are one-of-a-kind and masterfully crafted!

Some of these sculptures that you must see when visiting the Basilica are: 

The Bronze St. Peter Statue

St Peter’s bronze statue, crafted by Arnolfo di Cambio, is the most famous statue from which to get blessings.

This 5th-century statue depicts the saint sitting on a marble chair, holding out his right hand in blessing.

In his left hand, you can see the iconic keys to Heaven, which were given to St Peter by Jesus, as he was to be the first Pope and build the Church. 

Pilgrims come from all over the world to kiss the right foot of St. Peter, so much so that it has changed shape because of wearing out.

You can find this statue standing in front of the first right pillar of the Basilica. 

Pope Alexander VII Monument

Bernini’s last work, designed when he was 80 years old just before his death, is the massive Monument of Pope Alexander VII.

The Pope is depicted kneeling and praying at the center of the piece, and four women kneel at the base.

These women figures represent the favorite values of charity, justice, truth, and prudence the Pope believed in.

If you look closely, you will see a hidden message in the statue, as truth is depicted placing her foot on England.

This represents Pope Alexander’s efforts to stop Anglicanism from spreading.

Right below the Pope, the scary skeleton figure of death peeps out, who is draped in a cloak made of Jasper.

The skeleton holds a sand hourglass in his hand, symbolizing the passing of time and the end of the Pope’s life. 

You will find this monument standing opposite the Altar of Sacred Heart behind the second pillar on the left side of the Basilica. 

Pope Innocent XII Monument

Filipino Della Valle crafted a simple but eye-catching composition for the monument of Pope Innocent XII.

You can see the Pope sitting on a carved marble throne, holding up his right hand in blessing.

Pope Innocent was a reformist known to have strong judicial and economic opinions on everything and ensured justice for all his followers.

He was also known for opening up a hospital to help disabled people for a more affordable price! 

To show these values, the women figures of justice and charity stand on either side of the Pope at the statue’s base. 

Filipino also crafted a delicate Papal Tiara sculpture on the Pope’s head in the Basilica.

You will easily find this statue in the left transept of the Basilica, behind the second pillar.

The monuments of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Urban VIII also have a similar composition, with different values depicted, and are a must-see! 

Saint Longinius

Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s famous statue of Saint Longinius is known for its dramatic composition while maintaining a graceful elegance. 

Bernini completed it in 1638 and perfectly captures the spiritual awakening Longinuis had when he pierced the side of Jesus during his crucifixion.

The massive spear he holds symbolizes this event that changed Longinius forever.

You can also see his armor thrown away, as he is now a believer, because Jesus cured his blindness before he died on the cross.

It is set up so that when the sun falls in the morning, it acts like a divine light to the statue, recreating the actual Biblical scene!

This statue is in the first niche on the right pillar, facing the Baldacchino and the Papal Altar. 

Pope Pius VIII Monument 

The monument of Pope Pius VIII is one of the biggest monuments of the Basilica, under which stands the entrance leading to the Sacristy and Treasury Museum.

The entire sculpture is a scene of the Pope kneeling in the front, and behind him is the massive statue of Jesus.

Jesus wears a gold halo on his head, and you can see the statues of Saints Peter and Paul on either side of the Pope.

Besides the Pope, some items represent justice and prudence.

Pope Pius VIII approved the Council of Baltimore, which was the first of its kind.

He also spent some time in prison since he refused to take the oath to pledge loyalty to Napoleon. 

This statue stands directly opposite the Altar of Falsehoods, located at the first left main pillar surrounding the Baldacchino. 

Follow our St Peter’s Basilica Visiting Guide article to discover other essential details to enjoy exploring the statues! 

Statues of the Basilica with Relics

Most first-time visitors exploring by themselves, without a guide, usually miss seeing the ancient religious relics of the Basilica.

These relics have statues as landmarks, making it easier to locate them inside the space.

All of them are in the main pillars surrounding the Baldacchino and Papal Altar at the center. 

The statues have a chapel above to store the priceless relics of these saints.

Some of the preserved relics you can see are:

  • St Veronica’s remains below the Chapel of Veronica’s Veil, marked by St. Veronica’s statue. 
  • St Helen’s remains lay below the Chapel of the True Cross, marked by St. Helen’s statue. 
  • St Longinius remains below the Chapel of the Lance, marked by St Longinius’s statue. 
  • St Andrew’s remains below the Chapel of the Skull, marked by the statue of St. Andrew. 

If you want to see them outside their casing, we recommend visiting during the Holy Week before Easter Sunday!

The Founder Saint Statues

Besides the famous monuments and La Pieta, the Basilica is home to the statues of almost 40 founder saints!

They are scattered all around the Basilica and depict important Christian figures in Roman history.

The most famous among these are the statues of St. Benedict, St Peter of Alcantara, St. Paul of the Cross, St. John Eudes, and St. John Bosco.

The Facade Statues 

As soon as you enter St Peter’s Square, you will see the stunning facade of the Basilica with a group of massive statues standing at the top.

At the center of the facade is the statue of Christ the Redeemer by Cristoforo Stati, standing behind a bronze cross and giving blessings to all who enter the Basilica.

He is surrounded by twelve of his Apostles, excluding Saints Peter and Paul, who are in the square below.

Some of the saints you will see on the facade from left to right are:

  • St. Thaddus, holding his halberd. His relics are in the Basilica under St. Joseph’s Altar.
  • St Matthew is shown with wings, holding a book and sword in his hands.
  • St Philip holds a cross in his hand.
  • St Thomas, holding a Lance.
  • St James the Great with a scallop shell in hand.
  • St John the Baptist holds a scroll with the inscription Ecce Agnus Dei, translating to Lamb of God, on it. 
  • St Andrew. You can see his relics embedded in one of the main pillars of the Basilica.
  • St John the Evangelist with an Eagle
  • St James the Less with a club in hand.
  • St Bartholomew is holding a flaying knife since he was skinned alive.
  • St Simon with a saw in hand. 
  • St Matthias is shown as an old man holding a halberd. 

The Colonnade Statues

The Colonnade of St Peter’s Square is lined with 140 massive sculptures standing 64 feet above the ground.

You can enjoy a clear view of these sculptures from St Peter’s Basilica Dome since it is higher than all the statues.

Pope Alexander VII commissioned many artists to craft all the statues that you see on the Colonnades today in the 1600s and 1700s.

Most of these are depictions of Popes, Saints, Martyrs, and other important Roman figures in the Church.

Lorenzo Morelli created most of the statues on the Colonnades, so most of the credit is given to him! 

FAQs on St Peter’s Basilica Statues

1. What are the statues in St Peter’s Basilica?

2. Which is the most visited statue in the Basilica?

3. How can I spot the relics of saints in the Basilica?

4. Who designed La Pieta?

5. Can I take photos of the statues inside the St Peter’s Basilica?

6. How many founder saint statues are inside the Basilica?

7. Which is the most unique monument of St Peter’s Basilica?

8. Do I need a ticket to see St Peter’s Basilica statues?

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