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The Fabric of Saint Peter

Written and read by Assunta di Sante

From the laying of the foundation stone on 18 April 1506, when Pope Julius II began the rebuilding of the new Vatican Basilica, to the present day, the Fabric of Saint Peter is the institution of the Holy See entrusted with the reconstruction and later the conservation, maintenance and use of the basilica built on the burial place of the Apostle Peter.

It forms part of the institutions connected with the Holy See and is delegated the task of taking care of everything related to Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, as reiterated in the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, promulgated by Pope Francis on 19 March 2022: “The Fabric of Saint Peter’s deals with everything that concerns the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter, which preserves the memory of the martyrdom and the tomb of the Apostle, including the conservation and decorum of the building and the internal discipline of its employees and of pilgrims and visitors, in accordance with its proper norms. Where necessary, the President and the Secretary of the Fabric act in agreement with the Chapter of the Basilica” (Art. 244).

The Fabric of Saint Peter is therefore a living entity, and represents a rare example of long-term operativity, now in its sixth century of life. Its longevity and its Historic Archive hand down its history, defining it as an exemplary institution of “knowledge and know-how”, with an efficient economic and administrative structure able to capitalize on the knowledge acquired in order to meet the needs of the Vatican Basilica. The Fabric has represented an authoritative model of building practice in the modern age, applying innovative labour policies for the formation of the Sanpietrini workers, for the support of salaries in situations of special need, for assistance to families and for protection in sickness and old age. A further shining example of the history of the Fabric is the presence of women in the Petrine worksite – from the building to the decorative phase – engaged in the same tasks and with the same salaries as their male colleagues.

An institution at the service of the Pope, inspired by Christian faith and piety; an entity composed of men and women who with their work continue to this day to devote themselves to the protection and enhancement of Saint Peter’s Basilica and to the welcome of pilgrims, faithful and visitors who come from all over the world in ever greater numbers.

In February 2021, Pope Francis conferred to Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, former Custos of the Sacred Convent of Saint Francis in Assisi, the offices of Vicar General of His Holiness for Vatican City State, Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican, and President of the Fabric of Saint Peter.

© Fabric of Saint Peter