In only one night,
the Basilica was destroyed by fire.
appeal was launched by Pope Leo XII to all the
faithful: the Basilica had to be rebuilt in an
identical way, re-using the elements preserved from
the fire, in such a manner that the Christian
tradition could be maintained as it had been since
Parts were moved,
restored, demolished, and reconstructed. Not only
did a multitude of Catholics respond to the appeal,
but gifts arrived from all over the world. For
example, blocks of malachite and lapis lazuli were
donated by Tsar Nicholas I. These were going to be
used for the construction of the two sumptuous
lateral altars of the transept. King Fouad I of
Egypt gave columns and windows of very fine
alabaster as a gift, while the vice-king of Egypt,
Mohamed Ali contributed by offering columns made of
alabaster. Thus, it became the Church of Rome’s most
important construction site of the 19th century.
On December 10,
1854, Pope Pius IX (1846-1876) consecrated the “new”
Basilica in the presence of a great number of
Cardinals and Bishops, gathered in Rome from all
over the world for the proclamation of the Dogma of
the Immaculate Conception.
Letter Ad plurimas pasque gravissimas of 25 January
2) Architects like Valadier, then
Belli and afterwards Luigi Poletti directed the work
3) A long list of all their names is
engraved along the walls of the apse.