The central focus of the interior is the baldacchino, a monumental canopy that shelters the papal altar and the holy relics of St. Peter. Made of dark bronze accented with gold vine leaves, it was created by Lorenzo Bernini from 1624 to 1633 under the direction of Barberini pope Urban VIII, who oversaw the Baroque decoration of much of Rome. The spiral columns derive their shapes from the columns in the original St. Peter's Basilica built by Constantine, and legend had it that they came from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. Cherubs are repeated throughout the monument, giving an overall effect of the Ark of the Covenant. Symbols of the Barberini family can be seen throughout, including a golden sun and bees. In addition to being a beautiful work of art, the monument serves to symbolize the union of the Old Testament wisdom of Solomon, the Christian tradition of Constantine, and the rebirth of a triumphal church under the guidance of the Barberini family.
Credit: Holly Hayes