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France 2006 Pope Benedict XVI & St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City Rome - UNESCO World Heritage Sites - 1.5 Euro Silver Proof

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Product Description

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the faithful on this rare silver proof, which also commemorates the 500th anniversary of the world's largest church, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome!

Sold out at the Mint!On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the faith community of the Roman Catholic Church and entire world by announcing that he would resign from the papacy, effective February 28, 2013. In an address read in Latin before a group of Cardinals at the Apostolic Palace, the 85-year-old pontiff said he had decided that, due to his "advanced age" and deteriorating mental and physical strengths, he would be stepping down as head of the Catholic Church.

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POPE BENEDICT XVIThe German born pope (successor to the Polish Pope John Paul II), who in 2005 became the oldest man to be elected pope in almost 300 years, will now become the first pope to resign his position since Pope Gregory XII in 1415, and the first to have done so voluntarily since Pope Celestine V in 1294. In breaking the unwritten law that demands that a pope must die in office, Pope Benedict XVI has been nearly universally hailed for his bravery and foresight. A prolific writer, classical pianist, theologian and philosopher, Benedict XVI became the first Pope to engage social media, too, in December 2012, by issuing his first tweet on Twitter.

Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Alois Ratzinger, was elected April 19, 2005 by the papal conclave after John Paul II passed away. He is the 265th Pope, and he is also the Bishop of Rome and Sovereign of the Vatican City State. He was 78 years old when elected, making him the oldest person elected Pope in almost 300 years. He is also the first German Pope to be elected in almost 1000 years (since Pope Stephen IX in 1057 AD)!

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Investment Note - Depicting the first German pope in nearly a millenium, this proof-finish coin, minted in precious silver, has a mintage limit of only 5,000 and sold out at the Mint nearly instantly! Given its affordable price, we highly recommend this as a long term buy-and-hold.

St. Peter's Basilica
ST. PETER'S BASILICAIn 2006 the world celebrated the 500th anniversary of one of the holiest sites in Christendom, St. Peter's Basilica, with this beautiful and affordable silver proof from Monnaie de Paris. The largest church in the world, the Basilica covers an area of nearly 6 acres! It is the most prominent building inside Vatican City, and its dome is a dominant feature of the Roman skyline. For a more detailed history of the Basilica, please scroll down to the article lower in this presentation.

The obverse of the coins depicts Pope Benedict XVI standing in front of St. Peter's Basilica, his arms outstretched in a gesture of greeting. The landmark dome of St. Peter's, as well as the famously-elliptical colonnade of Bernini and the two clocks at the ends of the roof line are all portrayed. The reverse illustrates the floor plan of this immense structure.

COIN IN PACKAGE Pope Benedict XVI was born in Bavaria, Germany, in 1927. He was elected to succeed Pope John Paul II to the Chair of St. Peter on April 19, 2005 and inaugurated on April 24. He is the 256th Pope, the ninth German Pope, and the first German Pope since 1523. As well as his native German, Benedict XVI fluently speaks Italian, French, English, Spanish and Latin, and has a knowledge of Portuguese. He can read Ancient Greek and biblical Hebrew. He plays the piano, with a preference for Mozart and Beethoven.

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The obverse depicts Pope Benedict XVI standing in front of the principal church of Roman Catholicism, St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City, Rome. The legend in French translates as "500th Anniversary of St. Peter's Basilica".

The floor plan of this awe-inspiring basilica is detailed. The date of issue, denomination and the motto of the French Republic, LIBERTÉ ÉGALITÉ FRATERNITÉ are also indicated.

Each coin is encapsulated and presented in the traditional, blue Monnaie de Paris gift box. An individually numbered certificate of authenticity is included.

SpecificationsPope Benedict XVI
Country France
Year of Issue 2006
Face Value 1.5 Euro
Weight 22.2 g
Diameter 37.00 mm
Mintage Limit 5,000
Finish Proof
Composition .900 Fine Silver
Edge Plain
Certificate Individually Numbered

St. Peter's Basilica in Rome
Construction of the current Basilica of St. Peter's in Rome began in 1506. The basilica replaced an earlier church on the site that had fallen into disrepair when the papacy moved to Avignon, in France. This original church was built by the first Christian Emperor of Rome, Constantine, over a shrine that marked the spot where Peter was said to have been buried in 64 A.D. Over the next eight centuries this church grew in importance. Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor there in 800 A.D.

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MICHAELANGELO'S DOMEIn 1506 Pope Julius II laid the cornerstone of the then-new St. Peter's Basilica. The most prominent feature is the dome, widely believed to have been designed by Michelangelo, who was appointed chief architect of the Basilica in 1546. In fact, Michelangelo designed a spherical or round dome, but he died in 1564 with only the base of the dome completed. It was then redesigned as a vaulted (elliptical or egg-shaped) dome between 1585 and 1590 by the architect Giacomo della Porta, with the assistance of Domenico Fontana, probably the best engineer of the day. On the base of the dome are the words in Latin taken from the Gospel of Matthew, " are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. ...I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven..."

As built, the double dome is brick, 139 feet (42.3 meters) in interior diameter and rising to 394 feet (120 meters) above the floor. Other domes around the world, built since, are always compared to this one which served as model: St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Les Invalides in Paris, United States Capitol in Washington, DC, the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri, the Texas Capitol in Austin, Texas, and the more literal reproduction at the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire.

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MICHAELANGELO'S PIETAThe artistic treasures of the Basilica are too numerous to fully enumerate, but include the famed sculpture "Pieta" by Michelangelo, carved of solid marble. The throne of St. Peter and the papal altar were both designed by the artist Bernini. Throughout the church are many other sculptures and monuments designed by him as well. There are 46 separate altars within the Basilica, honoring many different saints. The immense scale of the Basilica can be appreciated when one considers that more than 60,000 worshipers can be accommodated comfortably at one time, a figure that compares with modern American domed sports stadia.

Over the main altar stands a 98 foot (30 meters) tall baldachino supported by four immense pillars, all designed by Bernini between 1624 and 1632. The baldachino was built to fill the space beneath the cupola, and it is said that the bronze used to make it was taken from the Pantheon. The representation of a chair, part of the sculpture, is said to contain the remnants of the chair belonging to Saint Peter, and is also said that it is the largest bronze piece in the world! Underneath the baldachino is the traditional tomb of St. Peter.

There are over 100 tombs located within St. Peter's Basilica. These include 91 popes, St. Ignatius of Antioch, and the composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. Exiled Catholic British royalty James Francis Edward Stuart and his two sons, Charles Edward Stuart and Henry Benedict Stuart, are buried here, due to being granted asylum by Pope Clement XI. The most prominent woman entombed is Queen Christina of Sweden, who abdicated her throne in order to convert to Catholicism. The most recent interment was Pope John Paul II, on April 8, 2005.

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