History and technology in harmony: St. Peter's Basilica shines in a new light


Osram's innovative, digital lighting concept makes the artistic treasures of the world's largest basilica shine in new splendor

Following nearly 18 month of planning and the installation of a new LED lighting system, St. Peter’s Basilica now shines in brilliant light. The entire lighting concept for the project was tailor-made by Osram to highlight all the treasures of the world's most important and historic basilica. More than 780 special luminaires equipped with approximately 100,000 LEDs were used in this project. Thanks to intelligent lighting control, the lighting of the church, which covers an area of around 22,000 square meters, can be quickly and easily adapted to predefined lighting scenarios. With the new LED light, for example, the mosaics in the domes of the side aisles now can be seen down to the smallest detail. Numerous works of art that previously disappeared in semi-darkness now shine in all their glory.

“We are very proud of this lighting masterpiece in St. Peter’s Basilica,” said Olaf Berlien, CEO of OSRAM Licht AG. “The project demonstrates just how history and high tech can be combined in the best possible way by using the right expertise. More than 500 years of history are now being bathed in digitally controlled LED light.”

“This project provides a significant service, both to art lovers and to those who come on pilgrimage to this symbol of Catholicism. We are pleased that a special light has been cast on this important location – thanks to the new illumination,” says S.E. Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, President of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.

“The Basilica’s new lighting system fits in perfectly with the requirements for worship, prayer and celebration – particularly when the Holy Father is in attendance. At the same time, this ‘intelligent’ illumination has also allowed us to achieve another purpose: to be able to admire the architectural beauty of the Basilica,” says S.E. Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of the Vatican Pope's Basilica of St. Peter.

“This project involved collaboration between the Technical Services of the Governorate and Osram. Together, they made up a unique team that succeeded, thanks to all its experience, in implementing a huge and unique project,” says Mons. Don Rafael Garcia De La Serrana Villalobos, Director of Technical Services of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.

The innovative LED illumination with high spectral quality and efficient photometric distribution has significantly reduced glare. Due to their special geometry and compact dimensions, the luminaires could be optimally integrated into the architecture. The number of luminaires also has been significantly reduced thanks to their efficiency. Together with the digital control system, energy savings of up to 90 percent are possible compared with the old lighting.

The new LED lighting emphasizes the masterpieces inside the sacred building, such as the mosaics covering more than 10,000 square meters, and also enables visitors to read without straining their eyes. Previously, the domes in the small side aisles, among other things, were almost unlit; now the new lighting concept will set the stage for them in the best possible way. Details that have never been visible before in the 500-year history of St. Peter's Basilica, details that even art experts were unaware of, now can be seen without disturbing reflections.  

The digital control system allows specific lighting scenarios to be selected, created or modified. Thanks to the new lighting, it is now also possible to transmit television images in high and ultra-high resolution settings with 4K or 8K.  

All the installation work was carried out by the Vatican City's Technical Directorate, which, among other things, made important recommendations on the original project in close cooperation with the Cathedral Construction Works of St. Peter's.  

St. Peter's Basilica is 190 meters long and is visited daily by 27,000 visitors. The three ships each have a width of 58 meters; the central nave measures almost 46 meters at the highest point of the vault. The dome is about 137 meters high. Thanks to the new lighting concept, every detail of this architectural masterpiece now can be seen in all its splendor and beauty for the first time since construction began in 1506.


OSRAM, based in Munich, is a leading global high-tech company with a history dating back more than 110 years. Primarily focused on semiconductor-based technologies, our products are used in highly diverse applications ranging from virtual reality to autonomous driving and from smartphones to networked, intelligent lighting solutions in buildings and cities. OSRAM utilizes the infinite possibilities of light to improve the quality of life for individuals and communities. OSRAM’s innovations will enable people all over the world not only to see better, but also to communicate, travel, work, and live better. As of the end of fiscal year 2018 (September 30), OSRAM had approximately 27,400 employees worldwide. It generated revenue of more than €4.1 billion in fiscal year 2018. The company is listed on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt and Munich (ISIN: DE000LED4000; WKN: LED400; trading symbol: OSR). Additional information can be found at www.osram.com.