The church of St. Peter in Chains

The church of St. Peter in Chains

The church of St. Peter in Chains is named for the chains that held St. Peter when he was imprisoned in Rome and Jerusalem. The chains are on display in a reliquary at the confessio in front of the high altar. Although the church is best known for the statue of Moses that Michelangelo created for the tomb of Pope Julius II.


The building is also known by the name of Basilica Eudoxiana named by the wife of the Emperor Valentinian III. Eudoxia brought the chains that held St. Peter while he was imprisoned. The building was damaged in the sixth century during an invasion by the Ostrogoths, and repaired by pope Pelagius I. In the fifth century Eudoxia gave the chains that possibly held St. Peter as a present to Pope Leo I who placed them in this church together with the chains that had held St. Peter while he was in the maritime prison in Rome. According to a medieval legend the two chains then miraculously joined together. Nowadays the chains are displayed in a beautiful golden reliquary.

The work of Michelangelo

In the church you will also find the tomb of Giuliano della Rovere, who in 1503 became pope Julius II. In 1505 the pope asked Michelangelo to work on his tomb. The famous sculptor created a huge monument with forty statues. Another Michelangelo’s work is statue of Moses which takes prominent position and has captivating appearance. Even the sculptor considered the statue one of his best works. The statue is depicted with horns in his head because of the incorrect translation of the Old Testament. In the Middle Ages it was thought that the original scripture said that the head of Moses was horned. The text actually says that his face ‘radiated’.


Location: Piazza di San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome

Nearby sights: Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Arch of Titus

How to get there: Subway: Cavour (B)

Nearby hotels: Grand Hotel Palatino, Tourist House, Rome Holidays – Fori Imperiali

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