Renovations and Additions to St. Peter's Basilica
During the pontificate of Pope John Paul II, the Knights of Columbus has been a major contributor to the recent renovations and additions at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. In 1981, the Knights collaborated with the Fabbrica di San Pietro in the construction in the grottoes of St. Peter's Basilica, including the building of a chapel dedicated to Saints Benedict, Cyril and Methodius, co-patrons of Europe, and the enlargement of the existing Chapel of Our Lady of Czestochowa, a Polish image of the Virgin Mary to which the Pope had a special devotion, to one and one-half its former size.
That was just the beginning. The first renovation of the façade of St. Peter's in 350 years was funded by the Knights (1985), who also funded the renovation of the 17th century atrium and the Holy Door of St. Peter's (1999) in preparation for the millennial Jubilee. Several restorations of Vatican art were also funded by the Knights including the restoration of the ceiling of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in St. Peter's (1993) and the restoration of several artworks in the grottoes of the basilica (2002). In appreciation for the Knights work on the façade, in 1985, the Pope sent the bronze cross, which had been held by the statue of Christ atop St. Peter's since 1614, to the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven.
In addition to the many restoration projects undertaken by the Knights, more than 100 architectural artifacts and pieces of art related to the creation of St. Peter's Basilica were displayed in the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven.