Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's

Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's

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by R. A. Scotti
     
 

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In this dramatic journey through religious and artistic history, R. A. Scotti traces the defining event of a glorious epoch: the building of St. Peter's Basilica. Begun by the ferociously ambitious Pope Julius II in 1506, the endeavor would span two tumultuous centuries, challenge the greatest Renaissance masters-Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bramante-and enrage

Overview

In this dramatic journey through religious and artistic history, R. A. Scotti traces the defining event of a glorious epoch: the building of St. Peter's Basilica. Begun by the ferociously ambitious Pope Julius II in 1506, the endeavor would span two tumultuous centuries, challenge the greatest Renaissance masters-Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bramante-and enrage Martin Luther. By the time it was completed, Shakespeare had written all of his plays, the Mayflower had reached Plymouth-and Rome had risen with its astounding basilica to become Europe's holy metropolis. A dazzling portrait of human achievement and excess, Basilica is a triumph of historical writing.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[Scotti] . . . appreciates the epic quest and querulousness and leaves us wondering how anything of any merit ever gets designed, built, consecrated and celebrated. (The Providence Journal-Bulletin)
The Providence Journal-Bulletin
[Scotti] ... appreciates the epic quest and querulousness and leaves us wondering how anything of any merit ever gets designed, built, consecrated and celebrated.
Wall Street Journal
Astonishes. A sweeping account of the largest assemblage of artistic genius on any project in history.
Entertainment Weekly
With her vivid portrayals, Scotti turns a potentially dry architectural tale into a Vatican version of Dynasty.
National Review
A fair and fascinating examination of splendorous and scandalous events. Scotti is a dramatic storyteller.
Publishers Weekly
Absorbing. A fascinating tale of genius, power, and money.
First Things
A lovely book, filled with historical detail and lively depictions. Captures an extraordinary period in the Church's life.
Richard John Neuhaus
Library Journal
There is a rich and turbulent history within the two million tons of stone that make up St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Enthralled with its grand scale, unimagined costs (more than 46,800,052 ducats), and the confusion of ideas in building it, Scotti (Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938) undertook this history of the Basilica's design and history. Readers are also treated to the lives of artists and popes; a study of politics; and an examination of Roman culture. First constructed in the fourth century C.E. to honor the tomb of St. Peter, the early Christian edifice was gradually torn down and replaced by the current structure. Its construction spanned several centuries and involved many of the most brilliant architects of the early modern period, including Raphael, Michelangelo, and Bernini. More than 1300 years passed between Pope Sylvester I's dedication of Constantine's church (on which St. Peter's is built) and Pope Urban VIII's consecration of the new Basilica of St. Peter. For budget-conscious libraries, this may act as an alternative to William Tronzo's St. Peter's in the Vatican.-L. Kriz, West Des Moines P.L., IA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fascinating history reveals how the world's most glorious house of worship emerged from decades of trial and scandal. The construction of St. Peter's Basilica spanned 120 years (1506-1626) and the reign of 27 popes. Scotti (Sudden Sea, 2003) argues convincingly that the project prompted Martin Luther to launch the Protestant Reformation, nearly bankrupted the Catholic Church and threatened to sink the papacy. But it ultimately produced one of humanity's most wondrous artistic achievements and revived the glory of Rome. The author deftly navigates the facts, dates and personalities involved, giving an immediacy and accessibility to this dense, complex saga. Not surprisingly, delicious ironies abound. Much of the funds to build St. Peter's came from the pillaging of New World natives by Spanish conquistadors. The ancient obelisk that still anchors St. Peter's Square was brought to Rome from Egypt by Caligula, the most debauched of Roman emperors. The massive dome that sits atop St. Peter's was partially constructed with material scavenged from the nearby Pantheon, a pagan temple. Naturally, heroes emerge in such a tale, among them Popes Julius II and Sixtus V, who took the massive project on their shoulders, and artists like Michelangelo, Raphael and Bernini, whose genius elevated the basilica from architecture to high art. The erratic Michelangelo took on the construction job reluctantly, then devoted his life to St. Peter's for 17 years, until his death at the age of 89. Bernini spent even more time on the project, designing the massive bronze canopy that dwarfs the altar, the colonnades of St. Peter's Square and many of the lavish fountains that still guide the faithful to the basilica'sfront door. In Scotti's capable hands, the story of St. Peter's becomes a riveting portrait of the papacy, complete with its triumphs, intrigue and excesses.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452288607
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/29/2007
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
245,088
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.85(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
[Scotti] . . . appreciates the epic quest and querulousness and leaves us wondering how anything of any merit ever gets designed, built, consecrated and celebrated. (The Providence Journal-Bulletin)

Meet the Author

R. A. Scotti is the author of two previous works of nonfiction, including Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938, and four novels.

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Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been to St. Peters Basilica myself. As a boy I was fascinated by it. I've done the research, read countless books on the great artists who served as architects, even sketched it, and while I've been fascinated with it all my life I've never been able to translate my wonder to anyone without myself either going overboard or boring them to tears. However, this author makes it simple and understandable. She neither glosses over the poisonous Popes who were failures, nor does she cover up the enormous mistakes that led to the schism between Catholic and Protestant faiths. Instead what she does manage to tell is how a church the length of 2 football fields that took over a century to build came into being at all. It could have been a tremendous failure (and it very nearly did) but what happened instead made it a glory to God and a marvel of man. If you want a simple read that's thorough and fun you need to try this out.
LoveHistoryVA More than 1 year ago
When you think of the confidence and hutzpah required to tear down the original church of St. Peter and begin the process of calling on some of the great artistic and architectural geniuses ever known, you can begin to see the scope of this informative history of St. Peter's basilica. I've not only read this book I have given it as gifts.
MichaelEM More than 1 year ago
Scotti details the intrigue, inspiration, planning, and lack of planning that went into the hundreds of years of building St. Peter's Basilica. She describes the personalities and the politics of getting it all started. The Basilica takes on a life of its own in her writing and she convinces us that the many disparate voices that were used to create this wonder somehow added value to their creation. The Basilica, conceived by Pope Leo, was a wonder from its inception but became even greater as it was changed and added to for the next few hundred years. Perhaps it is a real example of divine inspiration. The writing is very clear and concise. Her research is impressive and the final product is compelling. She particularly stresses the Renaissance and Baroque period when the Basilica was in its greatest danger of being destroyed or forgotten. The play of personalities is immense and she conveys this sense of lack of overall direction but somehow it grew to be the marvel it is today. This is a fascinating story well told. Scotti tells er tale in simple strightforward language. For those who have visited St. Peter's Basilica it was enlightening and for those who haven't seen it it would be tantilizing.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
An excellent read and has led me to look into other works by R. A. Scotti. Far from a heavy read, it is light and even suspenseful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished Basilica: The Splendor and The Scandal-Building St.Peters and I must say I am struck by how rich with detail and personality it was. It has been my experience that books of this vain tend to be cold and rather hard to get through, but not this one. The intimacy with which Scotti talks about each pope and artist brings them so clearly to life that you do not want to stop reading. I would recomend this book to anyone looking for a rich read. Scotti has found the perfect balance of architectural history and personal drama. I understand now what makes some books page turners.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From tthe front,it looks like good,interesting book
DMP613 More than 1 year ago
Nothing special about this book.