For some reason, the Basilica of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) was hard for us to find. The first time we tried to find it on our way back from Maria Maggiore. You have to go up some steps (the Oppian Hill) and through some small back streets to find it.
On the outside the church is not much to look at. The left side looks to be the original Church and the right side looks like the university building that is right next door.
By the time we found it, it was closed for the long lunch. We returned on Saturday and John confused the location with that of the Chiesa del Gesu, so once again we walked around that church before getting on track again. But finally we got there.
Most people come to this Church to see Michaelagelo’s sculpture of Moses. Michaelangelo considered Moses to be one of his best works, and so lifelike that he started talking to Moses while working on it.
I was more interested in the chains.
In the 5th century the bishop of Jerusalem gave the chains that possibly held St. Peter while he was imprisoned in Jerusalem to Eudoxia’s mother who sent them to her daughter in Rome. (Eudoxia was the wife of Emperor Valentinian III)
Eudoxia then gave the chains as a present to pope Leo I, who placed them in this church, together with the chains that had held St. Peter while he was in the Mamertine prison in Rome.
According to a medieval legend the two chains then miraculously joined together. The chains are now prominently displayed in a beautiful golden reliquary under the main altar of the church.
There is a strange tomb (Cardinal Nicolas of Kues?) but it is an utterlly beautiful church.
The church felt like a deep dream. Where else in the world would you find a prisoner’s chains so displayed in a golden reliquary?! … and within view of where Michaelangelo was sculpting and talking to Moses, not to mention the skeleton driving a small boat (of death and darkness?) over the tomb of a German theologian and astronomer.