The exhibit celebrates the 500th anniversary of the foundation of the great church built upon the foundations of another basilica which was constructed by the Emperor Constantine. That ancient church was itself built over the ancient Roman burial grounds in which the Apostle Peter was interred.
Over 100 masterpieces from the world’s most famous museums will be on display in the exhibit, which is divided into six sections:
.- "Petros Eni" (Peter is here), the ancient inscription found next to the remains of Saint Peter the Apostle is the title of an exhibit to be dedicated on October 12, 2006 and running through March 8, 2007 at Saint Peter´s Basilica.
- The first section displays artifacts relating to the historical foundation of the current basilica – including communications of the artists and architects who defined the layout of the new church
- The second section lays out the most significant moments of the complex architectural process of erecting the monument, starting with Bramante’s idea.
- The third section is dedicated to the ancient basilica of Constantine, upon which the current basilica was built. This section gives particular attention to the architecture of Constantine’s structure and the time of the basilica’s foundation.
- The fourth section is focused on “Ager Vaticanus,” the “Vatican territory”, an ancient area of Rome from which the Vatican takes its name. The exhibit looks at this area of Rome from the time when the area was a burial ground to the foundation of the old basilica.
- In the fifth section is covered the personalities and the works of the apostles Peter and Paul.
- The sixth and final section is dedicated to two key themes: the primacy of Peter and Petrine devotion, looked at through the testimonies and pilgrimages of some of the more important and devout saints throughout the history of the Church, as well as of literary personalities, artistic contemporaries, and modern day pilgrims.
According to a communiqué from the Vatican, the exhibition incorporates architectural plans and studies of tremendous importance, artistic masterpieces, and numerous documents, some unpublished, from the main architects and artists who worked in the construction of the Basilica of Saint Peter such as Bramante, Antonio di Sangallo and works of Rafael, Michelangelo, Titian, El Greco, Caravaggio, Bernini, Borromini and Rembrandt.
In addition, the foundation in charge of preserving the heritage of St. Peter’s will display one of its most precious treasures: the wooden model which was crafted between 1559 and 1561 according to the sketches of Michelangelo. Also on display will be some never before displayed artifacts discovered among the Vatican necropolis, including a fragment of the red wall with the inscription “Petros eni,” which is a testimony to devotion to Peter and gives its name to the exhibit.