Cardinal Angelo Comastri, head of the office that cares for St. Peter's Basilica, and Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, stand in front of the restored funeral monument of Pope Innocent VIII. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
The funerary monument of Pope Innocent VIII (Giovanni Battista Cybo, 1484-1492) in St. Peter’s Basilica was rededicated on Dec. 5 following a restoration undertaken with the support of the of Knights of Columbus.
The gold-plated bronze monument, crafted by Florentine artist Antonio del Pollaiolo, is considered a hallmark of Renaissance art. It was originally located in the ancient Basilica of St. Peter, and when the new St. Peter’s Basilica was built, it was moved to its current location in 1621 where it has remained in recognition of its beauty and importance. It is the oldest funerary monument in the basilica today.
Cardinal Angelo Comastri presided at a short ceremony during which he presented Supreme Knight Anderson with a copy of the image of charity from the monument as a representation of the Order’s first principle.
The renovation project is the latest active collaboration between the Knights and St. Peter’s Basilica. In 1981, the Knights of Columbus sponsored the construction of a chapel dedicated to Sts. Benedict, Cyril, and Methodius, patron saints of Europe, in the Vatican Grottoes.
The following year, the organization funded the renovation and expansion of the adjacent chapel, dedicated to Our Lady of Czestochowa.
In 1985, the Knights of Columbus sponsored another major restoration project – the cleaning and conserving the 32,000 square feet of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as the famous statutes of St. Peter and St. Paul at the foot of the steps leading up the basilica.
Other notable projects sponsored by the Knights are the structural repairs to the roof of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, as well as the repair of mosaics in the chapel vault. For the of the Jubilee Year 2000, the K of C funded the restoration of St. Peter’s atrium and Holy Door, a task requiring more than 100 craftsmen.
In 2002 the organization supported the restoration of artwork in the grottoes of St. Peter’s Basilica, and in 2007, marking its 125 anniversary, the Knights of Columbus funded the restoration of the funeral monument of Pope Sixtus IV – also crafted by Antonio del Pollaiolo, the same sculptor who created Pope Innocent VIII’s tomb.