In one of the four niches of the crossing in St Peter's Basilica stands a colossal statue (1629-39) of Santa Helena, the work of Andrea Bolgi (1605-56).
Helena (c. 246-c. 330) was the mother of the emperor Constantine the Great (r. 306-337). Legend has it that, on a pilgrimage to Christian sites in Palestine, she discovered the actual Cross on which Christ was crucified.
Andrea Bolgi hailed from the Tuscan city of Carrara and the sculptor proudly inscribed his name and the city of his birth on the neckline of Saint Helen's tunic: ANDREAS BOLGIVS CARRARIENSIS F. 1639 (Andrea Bolgi from Carrara made this, 1639).
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 walking tours of Rome.
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