Upon entering St. Peter’s Basilica, you step on this odd marble circle on the floor (center bottom of the photo above). The circle on the floor is made of a stone called porphyry, which was used to show the wealth and power of the Roman emperors. The stone circle is specifically placed on the floor so that we may step on it. Our treading upon the porphyry circle indicates that we are all equal in the eyes of God and that even the power recognized by this world is beneath us.
However, the stone circle is not the only article in St. Peter’s Basilica made of porphyry. Another item, immediately to the left once you have passed over the threshold, is a baptismal font (photo left). It is fitting for the font to be at the beginning of the journey through the Basilica, since baptism is what begins our journey toward God. The font reminds us of our own baptisms and reveals to us that, by baptism, we are made children of the King of Kings.
As our eyes are drawn towards heaven by the columns and high ceilings of St. Peter’s Basilica, we tread upon the powers of this world. The first step towards heaven is baptism. During baptism, we are immersed in cleansing waters from which we emerge to new life, as if from the waters of a womb. A life where we are a part of the Holy Family.
Resource: our Virtual Pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Basilica part 2 (Coming soon to YouTube)