Basilicas and Apostles
It is also an opportunity to appreciate the Basilicas themselves.
One of my favorite parts of St. Peter’s Basilica is the Altar of the Chair, dominated by Bernini’s magnificent sculpture group towering above it: the Cathedra Petri – the “Chair of Peter.”
Four great Fathers of the Church – St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, St. Athanasius, and St. John Chrysostom – each extend a single finger to hold a majestic chair aloft; on the back of the chair is an image of Christ entrusting the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to St. Peter; inside the chair are the venerated remnants of an ancient chair said to have been used by St. Peter himself; atop the chair two cherubs hold a papal tiara; and above it all is the glory of the Holy Spirit.
In this recent picture, the latest successor of Peter sits beneath the “Chair of Peter.”
One of the most interesting features of the Basilica of St. Paul’s "Outside the Walls" is the atrium: a common feature of ancient basilicas (an opportunity to “decompress” after walking in off the street and to prepare for entering a very special building).
Here, the gentle garden and covered walkways are centered on a statue of St. Paul wielding the sword of God’s word.
Places of worship can be lesson books in themselves: witnessing both to the details and to the power of faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.