Rome Attractions

St. Peter in Chains

The chains of Saint Peter, in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome, Italy

The church of »St. Peter in Chains« (or San Pietro in Vincoli) was originally dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul. When the chains which, according to tradition, were used to bind St Peter in the Mamertine Prison – Raphael depicted the deliverance of the saint by an angel in his famous stanze in the Vatican – were donated to Pope Leo the Great as a precious relic, St . Peter became the sole patron.

Outside view of church of St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli ) in Rome, Italy

Outside view of church of St. Peter in Chains (San Pietro in Vincoli ) in Rome, Italy

The chains of Saint Peter, in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) in Rome, Italy.

The chains of Saint Peter, in the Church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) in Rome, Italy.

San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) is a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy.

San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) is a Roman Catholic titular church and minor basilica in Rome, Italy.

The chains of St. Peter are displayed in a case on the high altar. The impressive portico was designed by Meo da Caprino; the marble portal bears the coat of arms of the Giuliano della Rovere, Pope Julius II, who commissioned it. The tomb of the German cardinal Nikolaus Cusanus (1465) is in the aisle on the left; it has a relief by Andrea Bregno showing St. Peter between Cardinal Cusanus and the angels freeing him.

St. Peter in Chains: Tomb of Julius II

The highlight of the church, however, is in the right-hand aisle: the tomb of Pope Julius II (1503-1513) from the mighty della Rovere family, designed by Michelangelo on a much larger scale for St. Peter’s Basilica.

Marble group with statues of Moses, Michelangelo, St. Peter in Chains (Vincoli) , Rome, Italy

Marble group with statues of Moses, Michelangelo, St. Peter in Chains (Vincoli) , Rome, Italy

Michelangelo completed just three of the sculptures planned for this tomb: statues of Rachel and Leah, the two wives of Jacob, as symbols for an active and contemplative life, and the immense Statue of Moses, which simultaneously celebrated the pope as a Renaissance prince.

The figure, carried out between 1513 and 1516, is regarded as one of the artist’s most important works. Moses is depicted at the moment of his return from Mount Sinai, with the tablets of stone he received from God under his right arm, and sees the people of Israel dancing around the golden calf. His face is filled with divine enlightenment and anger at his faithless people. The painter Pollaiuolo and Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, one of the nobles who fled from Ireland in 1607, are also buried in the church.

Sight of the angel of the death inside the church of Saint Peter in Vincoli in the historical center of Rome, Italy.

Sight of the angel of the death inside the church of Saint Peter in Vincoli in the historical center of Rome, Italy.

The fresco Miracle of the Chains on the coffered ceiling was painted by Giovanni Battista Parodi in 1706 in San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) Church.

The fresco Miracle of the Chains on the coffered ceiling was painted by Giovanni Battista Parodi in 1706 in San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) Church.

Tickets & Tours:

Colosseum to St. Peter in Chains:

St. Peter in Chains set in the Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, 0,5 km from (7 min walk) from Colosseum. Bus Lines: 11, 27, 81.