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In 1534/1535, during the papacy of Clement VII two statues were erected
at entrance to the bridge (furthest from the castle). The statue on the left
was sculpted in 1534 by Lorenzo Lotti and depicts St. Peter holding the keys to
heaven. The statue on the right was sculpted in 1461 by Paolo Romano (also
known as Paolo Tuccone) and depicts St. Paul holding the sword of his martyrdom in his right hand and in his
left hand a book of the bible.

 

During the papacy of Pope Paul III (1534-1549) Raffaello da Montelupo was
commissioned to create sculptures of fourteen angels that stood along the
bridge. In 1669, over one hundred years later, Pope Clement IX commissioned the
famous architect and sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini to create replacements for
the original 14 angels. According to Bernini’s plan, ten angels would adorn the
bridge, each of them holding an instrument of the “Passion of
Christ”, which are objects associated with Christ’s trial, suffering and
crucifixion. The objects held by the angels include the column where Christ was
whipped, the whip used to flog Christ, the crown of thorns placed on Christ’s
head, the Veil of Veronica used to wipe the blood and sweat from Christ’s face
as he carried the cross, the robe worn by Christ before his crucifixion and dice
that the soldiers used to cast lots for his garments, the nails driven into
Christ’s hands and feet, the cross on which Christ was crucified, the Latin
inscription of “INRI” (acronym for “Jesus the Nazarene King of
the Jews”) that hung above Christ’s head on the cross, the sponge dipped
in vinegar offered to Christ to drink during his crucifixion and the spear used
to pierce Christ’s side. Bernini created two of the ten sculptures, (the angel
with the Latin inscription of “INRI” and the angel with the crown of
thorns) and assigned the remaining eight to other Italian artists. When Pope
Clement IX saw Bernini’s two sculptures, he decided that they were too
beautiful for the bridge and put them in his collection. They were later placed
in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, not far from the Spanish Steps in
Rome. The pope then instructed Bernini’s collaborators to make replicas of
Bernini’s two angels to be displayed on the bridge. 

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