A Brief Survey of the Altar Cards of St. Peter's Basilica

The old altar cards of St. Peter's Basilica were many and varied.  Those on the side altars were simple, in a sort of Arts and Crafts style.  Those on the Altar of the Chair and in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the Canons Chapel were understandably Baroque in design.  The Pieta' altar had small and delicate Baroque altar cards.  Photos of the cards are rare.  I will be adding to this post as I find more from my photo collections.  Some of the more ornate altar cards of St. Peter's are now kept in the Treasury Museum of the Sacristy known as the Tesoro, open to the public to see and admire the treasures of the Vatican Basilica.  Altar cards were obviously never kept on the main papal altar.  Hopefully the cards have been kept safely in boxes in some long forgotten storage room in the bowels of the Reverenda Fabrica Sancti Petri, the institution responsible for the conservation and maintenance of the Basilica.  We hope one day they will be returned to their rightful places on the altars of sacrifice to the glory of God and the consternation of the devil.    

Alexander VII commissioned Bernini to make new crucifixes with matching candlesticks for the various altars of St. Peter's Basilica. Bernini designed them and had them executed by Ercole Ferrata (1610-1686), an Italian sculptor of the Roman Baroque. We can only assume Bernini also designed the original altar cards, some of which can be seen today in the Treasury Museum of St. Peter's Basilica. 

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