St. Peter's Basilica architectural design is a combination Dome and Square. The word Basilica means a Roman building used for public administration. This buildings use was designed for the administration of the Roman Catholic Church, to house its high officials and to display its prestige. There is much history with regards to the building of this Basilica and the Protestant Reformation. "Michelangelo, who served as main architect for a while, designed the dome, and Bernini designed the great St. Peter's Square." (2) "The square is outlined by a monumental colonnade by Bernini", this is said to represent open arms. (2) "The great double dome is made of brick and is 42.3 meters in interior diameter (almost as large as the Pantheon), rising to 120 meters above the floor." (2)
The word Basilica means a Roman building used for public administration. The Basilica was built for the purpose of housing the Popes, past and present. Construction started in 1506 under Pope Julius II and was completed in 1615 under Pope Paul V. Donato. The Basilica was constructed by direction of the Popes in power during that time period. Rome had gone from a system of Caesars that controlled the Roman Empire to a system of Popes during the middle ages. It was towards the end of this time period that the Basilica was constructed. Rome was the center of rule for the Roman Empire, therefore, it is of no coincidence that the Basilica was built in Rome.
The Basilica is laid out as a Roman Cross incased by a square, with the Dome being the focal point of the cross. It is said by Rome that the site of St. Peter's Basilica is the location of the apostle Peter's death and burial. This is regarded as significant considering the Roman Catholics regard Peter as being their first Pope. A designation that neither he nor anyone else in scripture ever claimed. Given what I know about the apostle Peter from the four gospel accounts of our Lord Jesus the Christ the Son of the living God, from the Acts of the Apostles, and Peter's own epistles; he never considered himself to be such a person as this, it seems in scripture that the apostles leadership was pleural rather than singular.
The Basilica is the burial place of many of the past Popes. In the center of the square is a large Obelisk that is said to date from the 13th century B.C. Egypt. The square designed by Bernini when viewed from above looks like a pair of tongs ready to pick something up. This is called a Colonnade, on top of the colonnade are 140 statues, completed between 1662 and 1703. Near the stairs to the Basilica at the front of the square are two colossal statues to represent the apostles Paul and Peter. "Peter was sculpted by Giuseppe De Fabris in 1838-40 and stands 5.55m in height, on a pedestal 4.91m high. Paul was sculpted in 1838 by Adamo Tadolini, and is also 5.55m in height, on a pedestal 4.91m high." (2)
A Basilica is a Roman building used for public administration. This building has two primary purposes; to put on public display the glory of Roman Catholicism, and for administration purpose of Roman Catholicism. When construction began on the Basilica much of the world was under direct control of Rome and the Pope. There were heads of city states that were under the control of Rome. There is much history with regards to the Protestant Reformation and the building of the Basilica in Rome. In 1517 under the direction of Pope Leo X, the sale of an indulgence was issued to raise money in the building of the Basilica. An indulgence is an edict issued by the Pope or a Cardinal that upon the purchase of the indulgence sins of the purchaser or the purchasers loved one would be absolved. Scripture teaches that salvation is by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus the Christ alone (Rom.3.24-25). This total disregard of the Papacy for scripture and abuse of power on the people angered a Priest by the name of Martin Luther in Wittenberg, Germany. On October 31, 1517 he nailed his Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences (Commonly Known as 95 thesis) to the church door in Wittenberg beginning the protestant reformation. The Basilica is used today both for administrative purposes and as a tourist attraction.
1) New American Standard Bible 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
2) Sacred Destinations website. http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/rome-st-peters-basilica.
3) www.spurgeon.org The Hall of Church History the Reformers. The 95 Thesis.
4) Webster Dictionary.