In the place of one of the oldest monastic community in Modena, founded in 996 (at the time it was still out of the town), the imposing Saint Peter conserves works dating back to the Renaissance of great value.
The extraordinary facade in fired bricks was built in the first years of the 16th century (the dedication of the church was in 1518) and presents pleasing marble portals, rose windows and reliefs representing mythological and marine subjects by the Bisogni brothers.
In front of the church, the column is called Saint Peter’s Cross, maybe the most ancient Christian vestige in Modena, as it dates from before the 11th century.
The sides of the exterior are very interesting, visible from the cloisters, with particular lancet coupled windows and the beautiful bell tower (1629).
In the interior, with a nave and double aisles (altough the side aisles were conceived as chapels), don’t miss the six statues by Antonio Begarelli (San Francesco, Madonna, San Pietro, San Bonaventura, Santa Giustina and San Benedetto, 16th century); Marriage at Cana on the portal by Ettore Setti (1589); the holy-water stoups (1586) and, on the left, the wonderful painted organ by Giovan Battista Facchinetti and Giulio Taraschi (built in 1524 and still working today).
In the right chapels: in the first Holy Family from the studio of Gian Gherardo delle Catene, a 18th century-canvas by Carlo Rizzi and a marble baptismal font of the first half of the 16th century. In the second one, Pietà by Pellegrino Munari; in the fourth, Magdalen attributed to the Scarsellino; in the sixth and seventh, paintings by Gian Gherardo delle Catene; in the eighth, Beata Vergine del Giglio. On the right of the transept, the so called Altare delle Statuine by Begarelli (mid 16th century) is the grave of the sculptor himself. On the right of the presbytery, the Sacrement chapel houses a touching Pietà by Begarelli with canvases by Ludovico Lana (Martyrdom), Carlo Rizzi and Giulio Taraschi.
The rich chapel on the left of the entrance has frescoes and a 16th century-painting by Ercole dell’Abate. In many chapels along this side worth noticing are several altars with beautiful scagliola works. On the left of the presbytery, in the stuccoed chapel, San Mauro and San Benedetto by Van Ghelder (18th century). On the wall, a plaque is dedicated to Alessandro Tassoni (1565-1635, Modenese author of the mock-heroic poem La secchia rapita – i.e. ‘The stolen pail’, symbol of the war won against the city of Bologna).
The area of the presbytery is full of interest, with the inlaid wood work of the choir, and the lectern dating back to the 16th century by G. F. Testi and the Martirio dei Santi Pietro e Paolo by Francesco Stringa. The sacristy is from the 16th century: frescoes by Girolamo da Vignola and furniture from the same period. See Saint Peter’s monastery°.