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Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  1,697 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
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 ...more
ebook, 336 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Plume Books (first published 2006)
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Debbie Zapata
Aug 26, 2015 Debbie Zapata rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: douglas
From the back cover:

In 1506, the ferociously ambitious Pope Julius II shocked Christendom by razing the original St. Peter's, which had stood for over a millennium, to make way for a magnificent new church. Scandalous from its inception, the construction of the new St. Peter's would take two tumultuous centuries to complete, challenge the greatest visionaries of the Renaissance ~~ Michelangelo, Raphael, and Bramante ~~ and provoke
the Reformation. In this fascinating book, R. A. Scotti traces th
Charlie Close
Nov 26, 2015 Charlie Close rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly interesting and entertaining history of the building of St. Peter's basilica in Rome. Great for anyone interested in Renaissance history.
Patrick Gibson
Very similar to ‘Brunelleschi’s Dome’ this is an account of building St. Peter’s. Broader is scope (the whole building not just the dome—and it is much bigger—thus more complicated, right?) but not as interesting, for some reason, this covers the centuries it took to assemble the building we have today. (I used the word ‘assemble’ like it came in a kit!) A building so magnificent and mysterious deserves the same in its telling. All the back stories are there—in-fighting amongst the pious, religi ...more
May 30, 2013 J. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion, 2013-reads
This book was left at our rental apartment in Rome. So I read it before heading over to tour the Vatican. Scotti hits the highlights of the construction and covers the same information as the tour guides. So I was able to ruin most of the tour guide's jokes to the annoyance of everybody else in the group. The writing is not very good. Too much attempt at dramatic flair and cliff hangers that cut against a flowing narrative. I give the book 2 stars and St. Peter's Basilica a solid 5 stars.
Grace Cohen
Aug 24, 2015 Grace Cohen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really should know better then to read a historical nonfiction book with the word "scandal" in the title.

Jason Golomb
Apr 06, 2012 Jason Golomb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
R.A. Scotti's "Basilica: The Splendor and the Scandal: Building St. Peter's" is more than just a biography of one of the world's great architectural wonder's. “Basilica” is a wonderfully readable historical narrative of the mid and late Renaissance in a plot-thick story of warrior-popes, international intrigue, angst-riddled artistes all intersecting, orbiting and colliding at this historical inflection point.

The building itself was constructed under the leadership of thirty different popes. Sco
Okay... So did I ACTUALLY finish this for AP Euro? That's open for debate... But seriously, it's not going to be on any test or final so I figured I'd rather spend my time on more sophisticated reading like Charlie Brown.
Apr 06, 2017 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book very much because I love architecture and Rome and St. Peter's and Michelangelo and Bernini. But the whole time I was reading this book, I was thinking, have I read this before? I've kept a list of all the books I've read since I was 10, and this wasn't on the list, so either I read it and didn't record it (which seems unlikely), or I've learned all this information from other books, art history classes, documentaries & trips to the Vatican. Either way, though not feeling ...more
Scotti's book is no scholarly review of Renaissance history but a page-turner: you'd know this from the review by Entertainment Weekly on the back cover. But it takes someone with her eye and ear to sift the historical record for the personalities and events that characterize Renaissance Rome, and do so in a way that not only teaches but delights. It was an age left an abiding testament to its religious and artistic fervor, written in the very buildings and streets that stand to the present day ...more
May 30, 2010 JoAnn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an outstanding book that chronicles the building of the Vatican Basilica. The cast of real life major hitters in this book are simply amazing. And, the personalities that merge from this author's work are worth the read!

With the lack of technology and the lack of tools available today, it is amazing at the high degree of workmanship and beauty that was created. Obviously missing, are the numbers of workers who died creating such a structure as St. Peter's!

However, the book makes up for s
Mar 10, 2008 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't want to, but I finally finished this book. It tells the story of the building of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and gives illustrative accounts of the Popes, artists and the politics that contributed to the massive structure. I'd recommend this book for anyone who likes religious history or art history. The author speaks frankly about the role of building such an edifice to solidify the authority and grandeur of the One true church.

As he lay dying, Pope Nicholas V (who commissioned the bu
Oct 16, 2013 Louise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scott has digested 150+ years into 250+ pages. Considering the outsized ambition of the Basilica project and the stature of the participants, her summarization is a major feat. If you are knowledgeable about this project and/or this time in history, this book is not for you. This book is for general readers (like me) who have little background in this project and its place in time.

With the construction of St. Peter's Basilica as a focus we get a feel for papal history, this time in the City of R
Florence Millo
Apr 24, 2012 Florence Millo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book! It tells the story of the saints and scoundrels whose vision and talent built the magnificent Basilica of St, Peter. The author weaves the history of the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Counter-Reformation through the building of the Basilica just as she weaves the personalities of the saints and scoundrels through it. The book is clear and readable without being simplistic. Well done!
This short book does a surprisingly good job of covering the various facets of St. Peter's construction. Scotti discusses the various personalities involved, the effects on the overall Church, as well as the Vatican's financing, politics, arts, and architecture. The author's writing is uninspired, but the story is so interesting and fast paced one hardly notices.
Jan 31, 2016 Kylan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant read on the history surrounding the building of St Peter's basilica. Infuses a great symmetry between the history of the popes, the architects and architecture. The feuds, politics and superstition kept me compelled to the pages.

This was a friends recommendation; he himself is an architectural enthusiast and was worried I would find it boring. Not. At. All.

Tattered Cover Book Store
Bonnie says that this "is a wonderfully easy to read art history book! Learn how much of a brat Michelangelo was, how looney the popes were, and how this all helped create the most amazing Renaissance art!"

Jennifer King
Mar 28, 2014 Jennifer King rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic history of not only Rome and the Basilica, but also of the incredible artwork, architecture, and engineering during the construction that changed the world. Highly recommend.
May 18, 2017 Vettecat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very informative info about the building of this massive structure involving the popes and artists. The author wrote a comprehensive story but did not appreciate her style.
Mar 16, 2017 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very well written! A lot of history in a short book!
Katherine Gordy Levine
The late R. A. Scott’s well researched book The Basilica tells of the building of St. Peter’s Basilica. The site was once called the Circus of Nero or Caligula. The obelisk at the center of St Peter’s Piazza was originally brought to Rome from Pagan Egypt by Caligula. It was eventually given the status of witness to the many Christians including the Apostle Peter were martyred by the Romans at the Circus. All were buried in a nearby cemetery, usually in unmarked graves. Peter's grave was apparen ...more
Todd Stockslager
Review title: The catholic church

Some who have either not read or have misunderstood my Goodreads profile as "The catholic reader" have taken me for a Catholic, perhaps because they don't know the meaning of the lower case word is "universal". The Church uses the term to identify itself as the one universal church, I use it to describe myself as a reader with universal interests, and here R. A. Scotti uses it to describe the building of the great church of St Peter's in the Vatican: "When it was
Sep 01, 2015 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Consistently interesting history of the building of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, a process which took not years, not decades, but almost two CENTURIES to complete -- in part because of the inherent challenges of designing and building the largest church in the world at the time, but mostly because of the politics of the constantly-changing times.

The Popes -- especially Julius II and Sixtus V -- and some of the greatest artists and builders in history -- Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini and more
Jan 30, 2010 Curtis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basilica fuses art history and commentary on the contentious politics of the Renaissance and Reformation to tell the story of two centuries of construction on St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The book is thoroughly researched and thoughtful. Although it includes many personalities - two dozen popes reigned during the construction - descriptions of key characters, including Julius, Michaelangelo, and Rafael, are developed and memorable. I would certainly recommend this book to friends travelling to ...more
Katie Lambrix

Summary Blurb(s):
Out of the clash of genius and the caprice of popes came the most glorious monument of the Renaissance
It was the splendor-and the scandal-of the age. In 1506, the ferociously ambitious Renaissance Pope Julius II tore down the most sacred shrine in Europe-the millenniumold St. Peter's Basilica built by the Emperor Constantine over the apostle's grave-to build a better basilica. Construction of the new St. Peter's spanned two centuries, embroiled twenty-seven pope
Vrixton Phillips
It began great: full of drama, lots of history, lots of art; but then somewhere towards the middle, the bottom dropped out and it stopped reading like the makings of a good HBO series and more like a slightly annoying History Channel documentary; one that acts like you have the attention span of a gnat and likes to remind you what the subject matter is and what's happened up until this point at the beginning of every few chapters &c. &c.

That said, it does live up to its subtitle. There'
Joni Baboci
Scotti does a good job of describing the evolution and creation of St.Peter's Basilica. The book is interesting and is as much a short biography of the basilica's artists, architects, popes and artisans as it is a story of the basilica itself. Scotti delves in both religious architectural details and small feats of renaissance engineering yet at times she is unable to clearly convey her ideas and does not accompany them with sketches or diagrams. This makes a couple of passages from the book har ...more
This book is on the history of the Roman Catholics' building of the St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. What made me want to read this is because I wanted a fuller context of the building of the basilica that historically prompted the sales of indulgences which of course set the wheels turning that eventually that resulted in the Protestant Reformation. The author's was a family acquaintance of Pope John Paul II and while I don't know where she stand with spiritual matters I must admit she did ...more
May 04, 2013 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Basilica is a creative blending of the histories of engineering, architecture and art (and the towering figures in both fields, including Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, Bramante), the Catholic Church and the papacy (along with the individual popes), and cultural and political movements in Europe during the time leading up to and following the Reformation and Counter-Reformation; Luther makes an appearance as does Galileo. Scotti adeptly pulls in and weaves together details from all these strand ...more
buku ini mau mengisahkan pembangunan [kembali] basilika st.petrus setelah lembaga kepausan pindah ke roma dari avignon di abad ke-15. basilika pertama yang dibangun oleh kaisar konstatin dibangun ulang dan dipulihkan kemegahannya sebagaimana orang di abad ke-15 itu membayangkannya.
dari jaman ke jaman, basilika st. petrus ditafsir ulang dan secara akumulatif dibikin semakin megah. para arsitek di tiap jaman dalam menangani pembangunan ulang basilika ini selalu berhadapan dengan kontinuitas dan di
Dean Hamilton
Jan 27, 2012 Dean Hamilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Despite a great deal of background on the history of the period, I think I failed to appreciate how much of the Reformation was driven by the cost overruns of a construction project...

The design, development and building of the Basilica of St. Peter must stand as one of the superlative achievements in the history of mankind. Begun in 1506 and completed in 1626, the Basilica reads like a "who's who" of Renaissance artistry and architecture including Bramante, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Raphael, a
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“My group had a papal audience at four. I couldn’t miss it, not only because no one stands up the pope but also because he and my father had been friends for years. They had met when my father was studying medicine at the University of Rome and Paul VI, then the young Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, was chaplain of an anti-Fascist student group. In his pre-pontiff days, he would visit us whenever church business brought him to the States. Somewhere I still have the photograph of his cat, taken on the balcony of his Vatican apartment, that he sent to me when I was nine or ten. He had to give the cat away when he was elected pope, and I had written to say how sad it was that the pope could not keep a pet.” 0 likes
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