The Baldacchino, which towers beneath the dome of St Peter's Basilica, was designed for Pope Urban VIII (r. 1623-44) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), who made it between 1624 and 1635 with the aid of a team of assistants.
Bernini's Baldacchino, which is 29 metres (95 ft) high, is made up of four twisted columns of bronze resting on marble pedestals. It is crowned at the corners with four standing angels and at the sides with four pairs of putti bearing the Keys and Tiara of St Peter and the Book and Sword of St Paul. The tester bears the Dove of the Holy Spirit.
A baldachin, or baldaquin, is a canopy of state, which is typically placed above an altar or throne. It had its beginnings as a cloth canopy, which was hung above the seat of a personage of standing, as a symbol of authority. Over time it became a permanent architectural feature, particularly over the high altar in a church.
In St Peter's Basilica the Baldacchino stands above the papal altar, at which only the pope may perform Mass.