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St Peter’s Basilica in Rome – why do you touch St Peter’s foot?

Why touch St Peter's foot in Rome?

In St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, pilgrims come to pay their respects to the bronze statue of St Peter, the first Pope and rock of the early church, over whose tomb the basilica was built. But many wonder why do you touch St Peter’s foot?

St Peter's in Rome, Italy Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

St Peter’s in Rome, Italy

Pilgrims would bend down to kiss the foot of St Peter’s statue in the Vatican, and over the years the metal has worn away so that the toes blend in with the rest of the foot. Nowadays most visitors opt for touching the St Peter statue foot instead of kissing it, but the feet are still worn down due to the human contact.

Get fast track access in this 3 hour tour of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica

St Peter's toe in Rome, Italy Photo Heatheronhertravels.com

St Peter’s toe in Rome, Italy

When we visited there was a steady stream of visitors passing by the statue, some hurrying on to see the next thing, some pausing to say a prayer and others posing to have their photo taken. It’s a way to find some personal meaning in a place where one might otherwise be overwhelmed by the scale and magnificence of it all.

Check out this Vatican highlights tour – with skip the line access the the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica as well as a small group size of 12 people

 I’m glad that visitors can get close enough to make contact in this way – it would be a pity if all the beautiful objects were shut away behind glass like Michelangelo’s Pietà, which was protected behind glass after someone took a hammer to it.
Michelangelo's Pietà in St Peter's Rome Photo: twstringer on Pixabay

Michelangelo’s Pietà in St Peter’s Rome

It somehow misses the point of why such religious works of art were created in the first place.

Check out these Rome tours, to see more of the Eternal City

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Peep through the keyhole at the Priory of the Knights of Malta

See all my Rome photos on Flickr

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Why touch St Peter's foot in Rome?

Photo credit: Michelangelo’s Pietà by twstringer 

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3 Comments

  • Reply
    Roman Rituals - the Mouth of Truth at Santa Maria in Cosmedin : Heather on her travels
    February 28, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    […] Roman Rituals Three coins in the Trevi fountain Kiss St Peter’s toe at the Vatican Peep through the keyhole at the Priory of the Knights of Malta Lock up your love and throw away the […]

  • Reply
    St. Peter’s Basilica at sunset | Multiple Destinations
    August 29, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    […] Peter statue with his kissable toe: although I didn’t see anyone actually kiss […]

  • Reply
    preetika chahuhan
    October 17, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    i have great interest on Roman Rituals and this blog is very well written according to my interests. Really like the things mentioned in the article are pilgrims come to pay their respects to the bronze statue of St Peter and visitors can get close enough to make contact in this way – it would be a pity if all the beautiful objects were shut away behind glass like Michaelangelo’s Pietà, which was protected after someone took a hammer to it.

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