The PAPAL THRONE in marble and gilded bronze is by Luigi Poletti with a relief by P. Tenerani: Handing of the keys to Peter. St Paul outside the Walls is one of the four papal basilicas and only the pope uses this seat.
SIX LARGE STONE PLAQUES carry the names of the cardinals and bishops present in Rome for the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception who then accompanied Pope Pius IX when he consecrated the new basilica on 10 December 1854.
The BELL TOWER on five levels is the work of Poletti (1840-1860) and substitutes the Romanesque one situated on the north side of the façade and demolished in the 19th century during the reconstruction.
The MOSAIC IN THE APSE is of exceptional dimensions (24 m x 12 m) and is the work of Venetian masters who were working at St Mark’s in Venice (1220-1227). Between the 16th and 19th centuries it was the subject of restorations. The iconography and technique are inspired by the Byzantine tradition. At the centre: On the two sides of the head of the majestic figure of Christ the Pantocrator are the Greek letters IC and XC that abbreviate the name of Jesus Christ and always accompany him in Byzantine art. On 29 September 1963, in the presence of the bishops of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI referred to the mosaic. Using it to describe the universal quality of their meeting, he said: “Christ presides over and blesses the assembly gathered in the basilica which is the Church. This scene is reflected in our assembly.”
On the right of Christ stands Paul (whose name is written in Greek and Latin) and Luke, the “biographer” of Paul who wrote the book of Acts. On Christ’s left is Peter and his brother Andrew, the first apostle called by the Lord.
Pope Honorius III who commissioned the mosaic is shown as a small white figure, prostrate at the right foot of Christ (beside him are the words HONORIUS PP III).
On the open book in Christ’s hand are written the words of judgement: “Come, blessed of my Father, and receive the kingdom that has been prepared for you since the foundation of the world.” The scrolls of Peter and Paul witness to their faith: that of Paul says: “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow down in heaven, on earth and under the earth”; Peter’s says: “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
In the lower part appear the other ten Apostles with the evangelist Mark and St Barnabas. From the centre to the left: John, Philip, Matthew, James the Less, Thaddeus and Barnabas. From the centre to the right: James the Great, Bartholomew, Thomas, Simon, Matthias and Mark. Each holds a scroll inscribed with one of the verses of the Gloria, the hymn of praise to the Trinity. The apostles stand on either side of the Hetimasia, a Byzantine representation of an empty throne on which rest the instruments of the Passion. Above it is a jewelled cross similar to the one that the emperor Constantine (fourth century) had engraved to protect a relic of the true cross. At the summit of the arch is the inscription GREGORIUS RESTITUIT 1836, indicating the restoration after the fire.
SYMBOLISM OF THE HAND OF CHRIST Three fingers represent the Trinity and the other two the two-fold nature, divine and human, of Jesus Christ. In the incarnate Word, divinity and humanity are joined together.