The St. Peter’s Treasure Museum is an art museum of Vatican City, located inside St. Peter’s Basilica.
With access from the corridor of the sacristy in the left transept of the basilica, the museum exhibits the treasure of the basilica reconstituted after the sacking of 846 and the sack of Rome in 1527, despite the further Napoleonic thinning that followed the Treaty of Tolentino in 1797. What remains, enriched with works of art from the old and the new basilica, is still a complex of exceptional value.
In the first room a twisted column comes from the original Constantinian decorations of St. Peter’s tomb, which served as a model for Bernini’s canopy; a 9th century gilded metal rooster once stood at the top of the bell tower of the ancient basilica.
In Room II, formerly the sacristy of the charitable clerics, the so-called Dalmatic of Charlemagne, embroidered with sacred episodes, in fact a 12th century Byzantine patriarchal saccos. The minor stauroteca is a Byzantine reliquary from the 6th-7th centuries, while the major stautoteca (or Byzantine cross) was donated in 1837 by a canon of the Basilica of Our Lady in Maastricht, and dates back to the 10th-11th centuries. Fragments of ivory Byzantine diptychs are also on display here, and the Vatican Crux (6th century), a gift from Justin II to the city of Rome.
In the following chapel of the benefited clerics stands out the Tabernacle of the Eucharistic Sacrament by Donatello (1432), a Madonna of Fever attributed to Lippo Memmi and an altarpiece by Girolamo Muziano (Delivery of the keys). The nearby cast of Michelangelo’s Pietà was used for the restoration after the vandalism of 1972. On the window and above the door Stories of St. Peter by Antonio Cavallucci.
Room III is dominated by the great funeral monument of Sixtus IV, a bronze catafalque by Antonio del Pollaiolo, rich in symbolic representations of the Arts and Virtues. The passage to the next room is decorated by the Romanesque Cornice della Veronica, Saints Peter and Paul on copper and a wooden Crucifix, the latter dating back to the 14th century.
Room IV and the following rooms have showcases with the objects of the real treasure. In the first room stand out an 18th century rock crystal cross, the fish ring of Sixtus IV, the 14th century reliquary of Saint Blaise, the 15th century reliquary of Saint Sebastian and a 14th century bust of Saint Luke. Next in room V are the cross and bronze candlesticks by Sebastiano Torrigiani (1585), two candlesticks traditionally attributed to Benvenuto Cellini, a cross with lapis lazuli, gilded silver candlesticks and rock crystal decorations by Antonio Gentili (1582). In the VI gilded bronze statues of Saints Peter and Paul attributed to Sebastiano Torrigiani (1585), the Palace Cross in rock crystal (15th century), reliquaries and monstrances from the 17th and 18th centuries. There is also a large original clay model by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1673), from which one of the bronze angels from the ciborium in the chapel of the Sacrament was taken.
In rooms VII and VIII there are other showcases with sacred vases, chalices, monstrances, pyxes and other liturgical objects, donated to the popes by the faithful, heads of state and rulers; a 13th century rock crystal cross; sacred hangings and embroidery, including an altar frontal and an 18th century tiara which are used to dress the bronze statue of St. Peter on his feast day.
In room IX the itinerary ends with an early Christian masterpiece, the sarcophagus of Giunio Basso.