There is one painting inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
“What?!” you might be exclaiming. “How? There must be hundreds of paintings in there!”
We kid you not. There is only one painting in that spectacular edifice. It is a depiction of the Holy Trinity by Pietro da Cortona and is located in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament.
All the other holy images are mosaics.
Mosaics are images created not with paint, but with tiny pieces of glass, ceramic, gemstones, or other materials. The oldest mosaics in the world are from the 3rd millennium B.C.. The art form really rose to prominence in the basilicas of the early Church, both in Rome and in the East.
The art of mosaics continued—with various peaks and valleys in its quality—for centuries and centuries, reaching a particular “golden age” around the 13th century.
St. Peter’s Basilica was built mostly in the 1500s. Artists began installing the mosaics in the latter decades of that century. Most of them are reproductions of famous paintings that reside elsewhere, such as The Transfiguration by Raphael.
There are many places in Italy and in other parts of the world where you can see mosaics—including Rome, the northern city of Ravenna, and—if you want to see some of the most spectacular ever created—St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
You can bring the timeless beauty of mosaics into your own home with this stunning Loaves & Fishes Ceramic Plate, crafted of ceramic with the look of mosaic. Made in the Holy Land, this piece is modeled after an original mosaic found in the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes by the Sea of Galilee. A profoundly beautiful and meaningful addition to a Catholic home! Available today at The Catholic Company!