The Four Relics
|There are four niches, approximately 10 meters high in the base of the pillars that support the dome. Each niche contains a statue: St. Veronica, St. Helena, St. Longinus and St. Andrew, they are the works of F. Mochi, A. Bolgi, G.L. Bernini and F.Duquesnoy, respectively. The chapels above the niches were created to contain the relics of these saints. They were designed and built by Bernini, and are decorated with rare marble, ancient columns and figures of praying angels.|
| Saint Veronica, was the poor pious woman whom Jesus
cured, and who met him again on the Calvary where she wiped his face when
he fell under the weight of the Cross. Miraculously, he left the image
of his face on the cloth. The crusaders brought a "veil of Veronica " to
Rome from Jerusalem. It was highly venerated, especially during the Middle
Ages and was mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy (Paradise, XXXI, 104)
and in the Vita Nuova (40,1).
St. Helena was the mother of the Emperor Constantine.
Near the Calvary in Jerusalem she found part of the True Cross. This precious
relic was brought to Rome and for centuries was venerated in the Church
of the Santa Croce in Gerusalemme of Rome that had been built by St. Helena.
Since 1629 this relic is in St. Peter's, in a gold, cross- shaped case.
St. Longinus was the attendant of the Roman centurion
who had to ascertain that Jesus was dead. He pierced his side with a lance
from which "blood and water" flowed. Longinus became a Christian along
with the centurion who declared Christ to be the Son of God (Matt. 27;54).
The lance was given to the crusaders, but was stolen by the Saracens. It
was brought to Rome as a gift of the Sultan Bajazet, son of Mohammed II;
St. Andrew Apostle was St. Peter's brother. He evangelized Greece where he was crucified on the cross that still bears his name. In 1400 Greek Christians sent his skull to Rome so that it would rest near his brother, Peter. In 1966 Pope Paul VI sent this precious relic as an ecumenical gift to the church of St. Andrew of Patraxos.
The three relics of the Passion are now in the chapel above the statue of St. Veronica. During Holy Week they are shown to the faithful who are blessed with them.