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Vatican’s restoration of Bernini’s baldacchino begins (Photos)

First Phase of the restoration works of the Baldacchino of St. Peter's Basilica

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

J-P Mauro - published on 02/22/24

The massive scaffolding has risen around the 10-story baldacchino over St. Peter’s main altar, for a year-long restoration project.

The scaffolding is rising around Bernini’s famed baldacchino – the baroque-styled sculpted bronze canopy that looms 10 stories tall over the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. The scaffolding will remain through the entirety of 2024, during which time some much needed maintenance will be performed on the monument that marks the spot of the Tomb of St. Peter.

Rising nearly 100 feet high, the baldacchino is made primarily of marble and bronze, with a wooden ceiling that features more bronze decoration. Aleteia previously reported that this massive work of art has not been the subject of any restoration work since the year 1758.

A meticulous inspection of the structure, which required drones to carry out, found some damages and a lot of dirt. Some of the wooden parts of the structure are in the process of peeling off, while “greasy substances” and “atmospheric particles” have encrusted certain surfaces. Thankfully, however, there was not found any deterioration in the bronze.

Aleteia has photos of the workers erecting the scaffolding, seen in the slideshow below, which show how the work had progressed as of February 21. Just erecting the scaffolding around the building-sized baldacchino is a massive undertaking in its own right. Workers standing next to the restoration project gives a better idea of the massive scope of an operation that is still many months from completion. 

The work, estimated to cost around 700,000 euros, is being funded in its entirety by the Knights of Columbus. This is not the first time that the Knights have funded the restoration of an artistic installation at the Vatican. In the past, they have restored 16 structures or works of art, including the famous wooden crucifix in St. Peter’s Basilica.

See a slideshow with some close up shots of the baldacchino and the restoration project below.

Read more about the restoration of Bernini’s baldacchino at Aleteia.

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