Bernini's 17th century canopy in St. Peter's Basilica now under scaffolding

Work on one of the focal points in St. Peter's Basilica has begun. Every restoration project's goal is to repair the work without damaging it. But, the 10 month long project to restore Bernini's 17th century canopy has its own set of unique challenges.

"In this case, what's difficult is its shape," said Alberto Capitanucci, technical area manager, Fabric of St. Peter. "Beyond that, there is the challenge of multi-materialism; that is, we don't have just one medium. We have more than one—from metals, like bronze, to wood, plaster and stone."

The work will take place in three stages: setting up scaffolding and work areas, surveys and documentation and finally, the restoration of the different materials. In preparation for the repair work, the restorers dedicated time to studying the canopy.

"The main study was archival research. We have it thanks in part to the fact that the organization called the Fabric of St. Peter is made for that. Everything that happened from the construction of the canopy onward—part of the preliminary investigation was carried out with the help of the scientific research cabinet of the Vatican Museums," Capitanucci said.

Restorers will work on removing dust, fixing broken parts of the ceiling and cracks in the wood in the 10-story-tall canopy that towers over the thousands of visitors to St. Peter's Basilica each day. The work is expected to be completed before the opening of the Holy Door at the beginning of December.