Written and read by Fra Agnello Stoia
The circumstances that led to the erection of a parish of Saint Peter’s Basilica date back to the sixteenth century when, in all likelihood, it was necessary to reorganize the neighbourhoods close to the “Leonine City”, also owing to the extensive damage caused by the sack of Rome in 1527. These needs coincided, moreover, with the new settlements of carpenters, stonecutters, blacksmiths and workers of all kinds engaged in the great building site of the new Basilica.
The main evidence of a parish organization that embraced the area between the Tiber and the farthest reach of the Leonine Walls, from Porta Angelica up to Castel Sant’Angelo, including the Borgo Vecchio and the Borgo Nuovo, is the Status animarum compiled by Don Giacomo Ercolani, the first and longest-lived parish priest known to date and Canon of the Vatican Chapter. From this valuable source we know that between 1541 and the following year, 903 souls found their home in the parish of Saint Peter. Don Ercolani is also linked to the founding of the Archconfraternity of the Blessed Sacrament, still active in spiritual and liturgical life of the Basilica.
The pastoral activities of the parish of Saint Peter, in accordance with the liturgical and spiritual life of the Basilica animated by the Vatican Chapter, are aimed primarily at welcoming pilgrims and the administration of the sacraments, along with the development of itineraries, catechesis and animation that are a living reminder of the teaching of the Apostle Peter, first bishop of Rome.
© Fabric of Saint Peter