The ancient church of San Pietro in Vincoli (St. Peter in Chains) was founded in the 4th century to house the two chains (vincoli), which, it was believed, had fettered Peter the Apostle when he was incarcerated in Rome.
Today, most people visit the church not to see St Peter's chains, but to admire Michelangelo’s statue of Moses (1514-16). This celebrated sculpture was carved for the monumental tomb of Pope Julius II (r. 1503-13), which was originally destined to stand in St Peter’s Basilica.
Michelangelo felt that this was his most lifelike creation. Legend has it that upon its completion he struck the right knee commanding, 'now speak!'. There is a scar on the knee thought to be the mark of the master's hammer.
However, the statue of Moses, which was placed here in 1544, was the only part of the tomb that Michelangelo ever completed. And the tomb, itself, is mostly the work of other sculptors. The statue of Julius II is by Tommaso Boscoli.
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private and
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