The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's
By R. A. Scotti
(Plume, Paperback, 9780452288607, 336pp.)
Publication Date: May 29, 2007
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In this dramatic journey through religious and artistic history, R. A. Scotti traces the defining event of a glorious epoch: the building of St. Peter?s Basilica. Begun by the ferociously ambitious Pope Julius II in 1506, the endeavor would span two tumultuous centuries, challenge the greatest Renaissance masters?Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bramante?and enrage Martin Luther. By the time it was completed, Shakespeare had written all of his plays, the Mayflower had reached Plymouth?and Rome had risen with its astounding basilica to become Europe?s holy metropolis. A dazzling portrait of human achievement and excess, Basilica is a triumph of historical writing.
R. A. Scotti is the author of two previous works of nonfiction, including Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938, and four novels.
1. The outrage sparked by the demolition of Constantine's basilica to make way for the new St. Peter's brings to mind modern battles between real estate developers and defenders of historic landmarks. And yet today, the "new" basilica is itself a historic treasure—one of the architectural marvels of the late Renaissance. To what degree do you believe a city's architectural legacy should be preserved? Where do we draw the line between preserving the past and embracing the future?
[Scotti] . . . appreciates the epic quest and querulousness and leaves us wondering how anything of any merit ever gets designed, built, consecrated and celebrated. (The Providence Journal-Bulletin)