Pope Switches to LED

LUX Magazine

February 21, 2018

Pope gives blessing to LED revolution at St Peter’s

POPE FRANCIS has given his blessing to a major relighting of Saint Peter’s Basilica which will see light levels significantly increased.

Osram chief Olaf Berlien went to Rome to see the Pope, and discussed the illumination of St Peter’s Basilica

Planning for the new LED lighting system for the world’s largest church has entered its final phase.

The lighting calculations and simulations for completely new lighting concept – with the emphasis on indirect illumination – have been successfully completed. The design eliminates unsightly drop shadows on the circular inscription, which is carved into the wall below the cornices of the basilica.

A total of 700 custom-made luminaires with more than 100,000 LEDs will bathe individual works of art and statues at the basilica.

The lighting can be altered to suit the needs of the particular occasion. For television broadcasts from St. Peter’s Basilica, the altar area will be lit to international broadcast standards. The lighting also accentuates the features of the materials used in the building and the architecture itself.

All interiors decorated with mosaics – including the world’s largest mosaic, which is approximately 10,000 square meters – will be illuminated to accentuate the texture and reveal colour detail.

Monsignor Rafael De La Serrana Villalobos, director of the technical services department at the Vatican, told the press: ‘During the first tests, we could clearly see details of artwork in the domes that we could only guess at in the past.’

Two trials of the new LED lighting concept at St Peter’s Basilica with LEDs uplighting the ceiling to reveal the detailing.

The lighting system also will lower energy usage by about 85 per cent.

St. Peter’s Basilica is said to be the largest church in the world. It can hold up to 20,000 people, is about 190 metres long. The three naves are each 58 metres wide. The maximum height of the vault in the nave is nearly 46 metres, and the dome rises approximately 136 metres to the top of the cross.

The interior rooms decorated with large mosaics serve as valuable jewellery boxes for some of the world’s most famous artwork, including the Baldachin by Bernini and the Pietà statue by Michelangelo.

The lighting – scheduled to be completed by Christmas 2018 – is being supplied by Osram, who also lit the Sistine Chapel and the Raphael Rooms in the Vatican in recent years.