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St. Peter's (Wonders of the World) [Hardcover]

By Keith Miller (Author)
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Item description for St. Peter's (Wonders of the World) by Keith Miller...

Read the Bldg Blog interview with Mary Beard about the Wonders of the World series (Part I and Part II)

Built by the decree of Constantine, rebuilt by some of the most distinguished architects in Renaissance Italy, emulated by Hitler's architect in his vision for Germania, immortalized on film by Fellini, and fictionalized by a modern American bestseller, St. Peter's is the most easily recognizable church in the world. This book is a cultural history of one of the most significant structures in the West. It bears the imprint of Bramante, Raphael, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Canova. For Grand Tourists of the eighteenth century, St. Peter's exemplified the sublime. It continues to fascinate visitors today and appears globally as a familiar symbol of the papacy and of the Catholic Church itself.

The church was first built in the fourth century on what is thought to be the tomb of Peter--the rock upon which Christ decreed his church shall be built. After twelve hundred years, the church was largely demolished and rebuilt in the sixteenth century when it came to acquire its present-day form. St. Peter's awes the visitor by its gigantic proportions, creating a city within itself. It is the mother church, the womb from which churches around the world have taken inspiration. This book covers the social, political, and architectural history of the church from the fourth century to the present. From the threshold, to the subterranean Roman necropolis, to the dizzying heights of the dome, this book provides rare perspectives and contexts for understanding the shape and significance of the most illustrious church in the world.

Citations And Professional Reviews
St. Peter's (Wonders of the World) by Keith Miller has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -

  • Booklist - 10/01/2007 page 28

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Harvard University Press
Pages   231
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.36" Width: 4.8" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   0.66 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2007
Publisher   Harvard University Press
ISBN  0674026896  
ISBN13  9780674026896  

Availability  0 units.

More About Keith Miller

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! KEITH MILLER earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School in New York City and now works for a liberal arts college in a small town. Before all of that, he was raised as the typical suburban Evangelical. These diverse communities have stirred his fascination with cities, suburbs and the idea of place. He is a contributing writer at Mere Orthodoxy and WORLD Magazine. He and his wife have three children.

Keith Miller was born in 1966.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Italy > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Italy
3Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Vatican
4Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > Building Types & Styles > Religious Buildings
5Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > General
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Architecture > International > European
7Books > Subjects > Travel > Europe > Italy > General
8Books > Subjects > Travel > Europe > Italy

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Reviews - What do customers think about St. Peter's (Wonders of the World)?

Another in a great series of books  Feb 3, 2008
Mary Beard is a Professor of Classics at Cambridge University. She is the editor of The Wonders of the World which is "a small series of books that will focus on some of the world's most famous sites or monuments." Several books have already been published, including Beard's THE PARTHENON, Beard's and Keith Hopkins' THE COLOSSUM and Cathy Gere's THE TOMB OF AGAMEMNON. Keith Miller's first book is a worthy addition to the series.

Like the other books in the series, this book reveals the architectural and cultural implications of its subject. It is aimed not at specialists but at the general inquisitive reader ("the intelligent ignorant," as Beard often refers to herself).

Keith Miller starts his book in the 1st century CE at the Hippodrome of Nero, one of two places where the Apostle Peter may have been crucified. It continues 250 years later with the conversion of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, and his building of the first Christian basilica, commonly known as Old St Peter's. Miller enlivens the step-by-step creation of the present-day basilica with some of the functions the building has performed: for example, the imposing of woolen pallia on newly consecrated metropolitan archbishops and the coronations of Charlemagne and other emperors.

In 1506 Pope Julius II had the fourth-century building mostly demolished. Miller carefully describes the complicated development of the new basilica. He describes how Donato Bramante's plan was superseded by Peruzzi (after Bramante's death in 1514), then the contributions of Sangallo, Michelangelo and Raphael. He explains Bernini's colonnades, baldacchino and statuary throughout the building. He provides an in-depth look at the underground grottoes and the necropolis.

I thought Miller was particularly good on the question of precisely where St Peter is supposed to be buried and whether his tomb is actually here. He reviews Pius XII's 1950 confirmation, and the later discovery that there were bones of at least four different people, one a woman. Miller provides a balanced view of the debate, including some irrefutable evidence that someone of great significance was buried on the site. He carefully analyzes the necropolis, with drawings and a chronology.

Miller's background is in art history, and he is excellent at describing the works of art still in the basilica or have been moved from the building. He is good at delineating architectural perspectives, magnitude and dynamics.

I would have preferred footnotes and a better bibliography; Miller does acknowledge a few texts including James Lees-Milne's ST. PETER'S published in 1967, as well as "various texts" by Gottfried Semper. Despite these nits, this book is readable and well researched.

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