A Tour of Saint Peter's Square and Basilica: Exploring the History and Beauty of the Heart of Rome

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A Comprehensive Tour 

In this course, Father Kirby takes a look at the history and artwork of St. Peter's Square and Basilica through the light of faith. This comprehensive tour explains why St. Peter's Basilica was significant to the early Christians, and why it is still significant today.

“Ecco Roma”

Just as the ancient pilgrims exclaimed, “Ecco Roma” (Latin for “Behold Rome”), so too does this course begin with wonder at beholding the Eternal City. Aside from visiting Italy in person, this tour will take you as close as possible to experiencing the splendor of Rome, Vatican City, and St. Peter’s Square.

Beginning with the First Pope

Rather than starting this tour with the Basilica’s construction, Fr. Kirby begins with the basilica’s namesake - St. Peter himself - as well as the origins of Christianity. With this great historical context of the first pope, one can come to more fully appreciate the treasures contained within Rome and within St. Peter’s Square.

A Tour for Our Times

Given in light of the New Evangelization, this tour is not just a tour of Rome's essential history and its artistic masterpieces, but rather one that begs a certain spiritual awareness. St. Peter's is a sacred place, and its basilica is like a living catechism, inspiring us to ask ourselves profound questions and deepen our faith.


  1. St. Peter’s Square and the Origins of Christianity
    • Our study of St. Peter's begins with a look at the early Christians, who were heavily persecuted by Nero.
  2. St. Peter: Proud Fisherman, Prince of the Apostles, and the First Pope
    • The namesake of St. Peter’s Basilica originates from a surprisingly relatable and compelling follower of Christ.
  3. A Faith-filled Walk around St. Peter’s Square
    • St. Peter’s is a place to ask those big questions weighing on our minds, and to hear the Lord’s answers.
  4. Sights and Insights around St. Peter’s Square
    • Blessed Pope John Paul II is the key to finishing up our look at St. Peter’s Square before we enter the basilica.
  5. The Basilica’s Narrative of Faith
    • The story of St. Peter’s Basilica is a fascinating narrative of brokenness and redemption, much like our own lives.
  6. The Threshold of the Apostles and the Door of Faith
    • As we finish looking at the history behind St. Peter’s Basilica, we can begin to study its physical and spiritual artistry.
  7. The Household and Journey of Faith
    • As we continue looking closely at St. Peter’s Basilica, we can see how it symbolizes our own walk of faith.
  8. Going to the Altar of God and Going in Peace
    • As we approach the sanctuary of St. Peter’s Basilica — the heart of the church — we also approach the conclusion of our tour.

Lecture Sample



About the Professor

Father Kirby was ordained into the priesthood on July 27th, 2007. He received his Masters in Bioethics from Queen of the Apostles in Rome, and his Masters of Arts in Philosophy from Franciscan University where he graduated summa cum laude. Since 2010, he has been the Vicar of Vocations for the Diocese of Charleston. His other academic works include:

  • A Master of Education in Secondary Administration from the Military College of South Carolina
  • A licentiate in Moral Theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome
  • A Bachelor of Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome
  • And a Bachelor of Arts in History from Franciscan University

Father Kirby has also been named “Honors Scholar of the Great Books” for his completion of studies in the Great Books of Western Civilization Program. He has served in the Army Nation Guard from 1996 to 2002 and is a recipient of the National Defense Service Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Humanitarian Service Medal, and Army Achievement Medal. He has been a contributor of the Homiletic and Pastoral Review, and a guest columnist in The Catholic Miscellany, The Post and Courier, The Charlotte Observer, and The Aiken Standard. Father Kirby has also contributed to the Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Justice, and Social Policy and co-hosted the radio show, “Pathways to Rome” on Mediatrix Radio. He is the co-author of the children’s book, “Becoming Father Bob” and author of the book, “Encountering the Lord in His Holy Court: A Walk through St. Peter’s Basilica.”


Homeschooling Products

The Homeschooling Set includes the Streaming Video and Homeschooling Course Guide. Each Course Guide contains everything needed for a student to complete the course, including:

  • Lesson Plan
  • Quizzes
  • Final Essay
  • Lecture Notes
  • Answer Key


Fr. Jeffrey Kirby, STD
TAN Courses
Publication Date:

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