THE HOUSE OF PETER
The History of the Vatican
Antonio Alberti-Poja

The author of this book has succeeded where many have failed: he has written the history of the Vatican, the House of Peter, from the days the first Christian martyrs were executed on the Vatican Hill, to the present, and he presents us with an account the reader will find difficult to put down.

The book’s outstanding quality is that it complements and enhances the splendid and sumptuous impress the Vatican gives today with St Peter’s Basilica in its centre and surrounded on one side by Bernini’s colonnades, and on the others by the many palaces which serve as residences and museums.

Reading this book we see far beyond the familiar façade of the Vatican.: there is nothing boring about this kind of history; for example, the author’s description of the erection of the obelisk in St Peter’s Square makes the reader view that familiar landmark with a far greater understanding of the tremendous feat that was accomplished. Here, and elsewhere, the author’s narrative is complements by largely unknown illustrations from the Vatican Archives.

Count Antonio Alberti-Poja was ideally placed to write on the subject: he was one of the consultori (member of the Council of State) of the Vatican City State, and Head of the Administrative Council of Peregrinato ad Petri Sedem for foreign visitors to the See of St Peter.

The author’s deep commitment to, and care for, the millions of visitors who come to the Vatican provided the motive, and his position in the government of the Vatican City State gave him the opportunity for his research, but neither would have guaranteed such an absorbing narrative.

To those who have visited the Vatican in the past,, it will bring back memories and probably change many concepts formed by that overpowering edifice that greets today’s visitors and pilgrims. After reading The House of Peter, those who come to the Vatican – for the first time or as seasoned visitors – will see the Holy City in a new light, looking beyond the splendid façade and the other works created by man for the greater glory of God, back through time to that first, small memorial that marked the grave of the rock of the Church, the Apostle Peter.

ISBN 0-905715-33-0 1987  21.4cm.  viii, 146pp + 16pp. illustrations   £12.95

Published by Van Duren Publishers

20/01/2008