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In the Monti quarter there are many churches, some of which are universally famous. The Church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter's in Chains) owes its name to the precious relic it hosts: the chains used to fetter St. Peter in his prisons in Jerusalem and in Rome.

The original church was dedicated to the Apostles and was built in the 4th century. Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, the future Julius II, completely modified the church in the 15th century, which was further modified during the next century.

San Pietro in Vincoli, exterior
The church: interior

In the top left photo you can see the exterior of the church, with a portico of five arches, adjoining to the building of the faculty of engineering to its right. The church has the layout of a much larger basilica, as it is divided by twenty ancient marble columns in the interior.
On the ceiling you find a beautiful fresco by Giovanni Battista Parodi (1706). You also find paintings of Guercino and of Domenichino, a Byzantine mosaic showing St. Sebastian, yet all these masterpieces are eclipsed by the tomb of Julius II by Michelangelo, notwithstanding the initial grandiose conception was never completed.

Moses, by Michelangelo

Moses statue was completed in 1515, two years after the death of Pope Julius II, and the work on the funerary monument was ended in 1545, reaching only a part of the original project ("a tragedy", as Michelangelo put it). Nevertheless, Michelangelo was so impressed of the result of his work that it is said he threw his hammer against the statue crying "Why won't you speak?".
Sigmund Freud, who was very interested in the symbological meaning of the figure of Moses, and in general in anthropology and psychology of the religions, came to Rome in more than one occasion to study and to interpret the statue.

Pope Julius II summoned Michelangelo in 1505 to build a sumptuous mausoleum for himself and for his family, which would have included 47 statues. The work was suspended many times, first because of disputes between the Pope and Michelangelo, then because the artist had to decorate the Sistine Chapel, and finally because of the death of the Pope.
The master entrusted the main part of the work to his pupils, who executed them in accordance to his designs. Michelangelo was though to be entirely the author of the statue of Moses, and was largely the author of the figures next to him, patriarch Jacob's wives Rachel (left, symbolizing Contemplative Life), and Leah (right, Active Life).

The complex of statues of Michelangelo

Rome Moses statue by Michaelangelo
Moses, side view

S. Freud believed that Moses was an Egyptian, not a Jew. According to the founder of psychoanalysis, he was a priest, a follower of the religion worshipping the sun, introduced by Akhenaton. When the traditional priests restored the original Egyptian religion, they persecuted the followers of Akhenaton. Moses then sought protection among the Jews, originally an Egyptian tribe.

According to Freud, the Jews were thus converted to the new religion, and later developed their present one.

Freud tried also to interpret the particular posture that Michelangelo gave to Moses. In fact he does not have a classical expression, but rather a grim look to the left. Freud wrote an essay about his thoughts, entitled "The Moses of Michelangelo".

Rome Moses statue closer view

Moses, close-up

He concluded that Moses has the very serious and grim expression as he just returned from the mountain where he received the Tables of the Law, and he found his people worshipping the Golden Calf. Moses is hence looking at them in disdain, and is about to stand up and break the Tables of the Law in anger.

Rome the fetters of St. Peter

Church of San Francesco di Paola

The chains of St. Peter
The Church of San Francesco di Paola

As mentioned, the church also preserves the chains of St. Peter, in the confessio. According to tradition, when the two chains used to fetter the Saint in Jerusalem and in Rome were brought together, they were united miraculously.
Adjacent to the church of St. Peter's in Chain, and having its entrance in the same square, is the national church of the Calabrians, named after the saint San Francesco di Paola. The medieval tower of the Margini was converted into its bell tower.

Back to the "Monti quarter general presentation"

Rome Piazza Navona quarter

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