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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:30

Bernini, Cathedra Petri (Chair of St. Peter)

Video transcript

we're in st. Peter's Basilica standing right beside about the Kino in the crossing directly under Michelangelo's dome which is so high it's breathtaking and we're looking past the Baldacchino which is actually not easy to do taking in an extraordinary I was about to call it a sculpture but it's more than a sculpture its architecture its sculpture its stained glass it's the cathedra Petri the chair is bronze and it increases a older wooden chair which is believed by tradition to have belonged to st. Peter it appears to float effortlessly in the air on a kind of canopy held by four Church Fathers and it's not that they're lifting so much as they're restraining the chair right which seems to be almost being assumed into heaven and all around pouring from either side of the chair pushing up from below are golden clouds that raise up the throne and it's surrounded and that almost seemed to push it forward in a way - it's true and just and almost to seek down into our world right this kind of pouring into our world such a baroque thing the spiritual is also clearly represented by these gold rays that move much more quickly out into our space atom - the Cathedral the clouds that's right through the clouds and over and past the plasters the actual architecture of the church and that frame themselves a cloud of angels that dance and spin and they in turn frame the stained glass this beautiful stained glass representation of the Holy Spirit the Dove which is itself the centerpiece and in a sense the focal point of the entire Cathedral and that Dove is represented within concentric oval shape so you get this feeling of rising and moving toward the center of the world oh that's right it's a kind of almost visual multiplication yeah I kind of intensification until you reach the Holy Spirit itself what it always amazes me about Bernini and everything that we see in Rome is this way that he's willing to think about architecture in a new way instead of something that is heavy and encloses space if you think that the Pantheon or just generally what architecture is supposed to do he makes architecture into this porous thing almost it becomes a playful stage right it becomes something that can be in some ways overwhelmed by the kind of theatricality that he brings to his almost set pieces yeah but he's like painted essentially using stucco painted with gold on top of marble today's extraordinary makes you've got the brilliant light of the stained-glass window which actually is illuminated by the sky but beyond you have the gilded the stucco you have the bronze which is in part gilded as well you have the marble which can be brilliantly white but also colored and it becomes this kaleidoscope of form and color and light and it's dizzying and beautiful but when I say dizzying I don't want to suggest that it's unfocused because it's tremendously unified and perfect in the scale of it in the ABS