Gian Lorenzo Bernini, (Italian sculptor and draftsman, 1598-1680)


1673-1674 (creation)

Alternate Title

Altar of the Blessed Sacrament


image preview

Artist ID





Also on the right is the vast Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament, behind a Baroque wrought-iron grill designed by Francesco Borromini (1599-1667). The Blessed Sacrament is exposed here for the continuous adoration of the faithful. A notice reads: "Only those who wish to pray may enter". The Eucharist is frequently celebrated in this chapel, with hymns and community prayers. In bygone ages, the faithful would pause in silent prayer and contemplation of Jesus, the living bread come down from heaven. This bread is the Body of the Lord for the life of the world. Whoever eats this bread will have eternal life. The decision to reserve this chapel for the Blessed Sacrament implied the greatest commitment to its decoration. This is why the faithful who admire its beauty and harmony feel encouraged to pray and to reflect here.

The most precious work is the Tabernacle of gilded bronze, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1674) on the lines of the famous tempietto of St. Pietro in Montorio, the work of Bramante. Its charm is enhanced by the statuettes of the twelve Apostles on the cornice and of Jesus on the miniature dome. It is encrusted with deep blue lapis lazuli which stands out against the golden background and is flanked by tow o the loveliest angels in gilded bronze, kneeling in reverent prayer. Behind the altar is an altarpiece painted in oils by Pietro da Cortona (1596-1669) which celebrates the Trinity, God the Father, the Son make man who died for us, the Holy Spirit who guides the Church. It is the only canvas in the whole basilica. The Apocalypse aflame and the Saints in adoration decorate the ceiling. In the spandrels are episodes from the Old Testament, prefiguring the Eucharist. The Eucharist is also the theme of the scenes in the lunettes. The mosaic covering the wall on the right was inspired by the Ecstasy of St. Francis by Domenichino.

Description Source

St. Peter's - Guide to the Basilica and Square by Nicolo Suffi, ©Libreria Editrice Vaticana




Sculpture and Installations

Work Type


Work Technique



Vatican Palace (Rome (Vatican City), Holy See (Santa Sede), Italy)

Image Rights

© Dr. Ronald V. Wiedenhoeft

Image Source

Scholar's Resource, Inc.

File Type


Photo Credit

Dr. Ronald V. Wiedenhoeft