St Peter’s Basilica: A Golden Rectangle Extension to a Square


above: The Basilica plan at some stage gained a front extension using a golden rectangle. below: Later Plan for St. Peter’s 16th–17th century. Anonymous. Metropolitan Museum.

The question is whether the extension from a square was related the previous square design. The original square seems quite reworked but similar still to the original square. The four gates were transformed into three ambulatories defining four circles left, above, right and centre, see below.

Equal Perimeter models at the center of St Peter’s Basilica

Equal Perimeter Models

The central circle can be considered as 11 units in diameter so that its out-square is then 44 units. The circle of equal perimeter to the square will then be 14 units in diameter and the difference of 3 defines a circle diameter 3 units. The 11-circle represents the Earth while the 3-circle represents the Moon, to very high precision – hence making this model a representative of the Mysteries inherited from deep antiquity; at least the megalithic age and/or early dynastic Egypt, when the earth’s size can be seen in Stonehenge and Great Pyramid. This inner EP model, is diagonal so that the pillars represent four moons.

An outer Equal Perimeter model is in the cardinal directions (this alternation also found in the Cosmati pavement at Westminster Abbey, and inner models are related to the microcosm of the human being relative to the slightly larger model of Moons). The two sizes of Moon define the circles at the center, around St Peter’s monument. The mandala-like character of the Equal Perimeter model give here the impressions of a flower’s petals and leaves.

Golden Rectangles

You may remember a recent post about double squares and golden rectangles, where a half-circle that fits a Square has root 5 diagonal radius which, arced down, generates a golden triangle. It is therefore possible to fit the square part of the original design and draw the circle that fits the half-diagonal of the square as shown below.

The golden extension of the Basilica’s Square Plan

By eye, the square’s side is one {1} and the new side length below is 1/φ and the two together are 1 + 1/φ = φ (D’B’ below) which is the magic of the Golden Mean. This insight can be quantified to grasp this design as a useful generality:

Quantifying how the golden mean rectangles are generating phi (φ)

Establishing the lengths from the unit square and point O, the center of the right hand side. OA’ is then √5/2. When this is arced, the square is placed inside a half circle A’C, BC is √5/2 + 1/2 = 1/φ.

The rectangle sides ACD’B’ are the golden mean relative to the width A’B = 1, the unit square’s side, but that unit side length A’B is the golden mean relative to the side of the golden rectangle BC. In addition the length B’D’ is the golden mean squared relative to BC, the side of the golden rectangle.


It seems that the equal perimeter models within the square design of Bramante were adjusted. The golden mean was used to extend the Basilica (originally an Orthodox square building named after St Basil) into a golden rectangle. This could be done by adding the equivalent lesser golden rectangle, relative to the unit square through the properties of the out half-circle from O.

The series of golden rectangles can travel out in four directions, each coming naturally from a single unitary square. The likely threefold symbolic message, added by the extension seems to be the primacy of the unitary square, of St Peter (on whom the Church was to be founded) and of the Pope (as a living symbol of St Peter).

St Peter’s Basilica: Starcut & Equal Perimeter

In Malcolm Stewart’s book on Sacred Geometry, his starcut diagram was applied to Raphael’s painting The School of Athens to create radiants to the people standing around the Athenium Lyceum. “If the starcut was the central geometrical determinant for Raphael’s formal depiction of classical philosophy” it was a “known authoritative device” or framework for geometrical understanding. Stewart found a potential antecedent for such a technique Donato Brahmante’s plan for St Peter’s (see above) which was square like a starcut diagram.

left: Stewarts book cover right: The simplest version of the starcut square where the sides are divided by two and the outer square is four squares of nine, which is 62 = 36 squares and there an octagon within the crossing lines. If there were 72 squares, then the octagon’s vertices would all be on crossings.

A starcut diagram works as a linear interpolator of lines drawn between its sides which are then divided by a number of points that radiate out to other points. The inner lines in this one are eight in number, three per side. Malcolm Stewart shows (see below) the number of coincidences between the plan and a starcut, as if the design was partly arrived at by establishing this pattern. The cardinal cross between its four entrances could have be arrived at, as could the corner octagons with their entrance and side circles lying on starcut radiants. And the central square has corners defining the central space and pillars for supporting the dome.

There seems to be other signs of starcutting such as Honnecourt’s Man, that masons were using such frameworks to build all manner of buildings, sculptures and designs. To investigate further, I made a diagram of my own, over Bramante’s plan and used the method of modular analysis, based on the fact that the central cross of walk ways is one fifth of the square’s side length so that 5 by 5 squares (in red) will define that feature. But there also seems to be a 3 by 3 grid of squares at work (shown in blue) to define the central space in the standard style of the Basilica from the Orthodox (Eastern Church) tradition, this then accounting for most of Stewart’s dotted lines.

Reconstructing most of Malcolm Stewart’s fig. 8.18 using grids of five and three, and applying modular analysis to the Basilica, to quantify it in relative units 1/120th of its side length.

The plan has no scale from which metrology can be deduced, but the smallest number able to hold these two grids together is 60. But to resolve the width of the corner octagons (as 15) I have used a side length of 120. The squares of 24 divided by the octagon width is 24/15 = 8/5 = 1.6. On can see that the starcut diagram was probably part of modular analysis, a technique popular in modern studies of cathedrals which, of necessity, can’t have been designed except as a meaningful whole. But this design would go through many hands including  MichelangeloCarlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini to become a transcept cathedral design (see below).

Later Plan for St. Peter’s 16th–17th century. Anonymous. Metropolitan Museum.

My own book on sacred geometry found a different framework was often present in such capital buildings, a model called Equal Perimeter which is a model of pi as 22/7 but is also the basis for a cosmological model of the Earth and the Moon, as 3/11ths of the Earth in size. This model is principally a circle the same perimeter size as a given circle’s circumference, the square being symbolic of the earth in its side length, as a scaled down mean diameter for the Earth. The basilica square limits could then the Earth and the circle of equal perimeter and size of the Moon, as shown overlaid below. Just as the presence of starcut or modular frameworks were linked to a medieval tradition, perhaps parts of that tradition were conscious of this long lost knowledge of the size of the Earth and Moon.

The Equal Perimeter model seems quite clear within the Basilica as originally conceived by Bramante.

It would seem that the equal perimeter design was in use in medieval times because the Cosmati pavement of Westminster Abbey holds it very clearly, and it was the Pope who sent Cosmati guildsmen for its construction. If the basilica was completed on 18 November 1626, the Westminster pavement was completed by 1268 for king Henry III. Its mosaic is depicted in Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors. The interpretation I gave to it is in my Sacred Geometry book was first published here.

In summary, sacred geometry became a repository for esoteric information and techniques useful for laying out the capital buildings and other religious artifacts in which the exoteric aspects of religion are performed. Rituals often have a deeper meaning, only accessible when one seeks to understand rather than merely know them. It may be that this was a necessary compromise between the outer and inner meaning of life in those times.

Cosmati Great Pavement at Westminster Abbey as a model of the Earth and Moon.
[Copyright: Dean and Chapter of Westminster]

Walking on the Moon

There are plans to walk again on the moon (above is a NASA visualization), but there is a sense in which the surface of the moon belongs to the surface of the earth, since the earth’s circumference is 4 times the mean diameter of the earth, minus the moon’s circumference.

The Earth and Moon were formed out of an early collision which left the two bodies in an unusual relationship to one another, in more ways than one. Here we discuss the diameter (and circumference) of each body as a sphere as being in the ratio 11 to 3. The diameter of the Moon is 2160 miles so that the common unit is 720 miles (the harmonic constant) and the diameter of the spherical mean earth would be 7920 miles.

Continue reading “Walking on the Moon”

The Megalithic Pythagoras

Pythagoras of Samos (c.600BC) very likely gleaned megalithic number science on his travels around the “Mysteries” of the ancient world. His father, operating from the island of Samos, became a rich merchant, trading by sea and naming his child Pythagoras; after the god of Delphi who had “killed” the Python snake beneath Delphi’s oracular chasm, now a place of Apollo. The eventual disciples of Pythagoras were reclusive and secretive, threatening death on anybody who would openly speak of mysteries, such as the square root of two, to the uninitiated. It can be seen from the previous post that many such “mysteries” were natural discoveries made by the megalithic astronomers, when learning how to manipulate number without arithmetic, through a metrological geometry unfamiliar to the romantic sacred geometry of “straight edge and compass”.

As previously stated, the vertex angles of right triangles whose longer sides are integer in length, are angular invariants belonging to the invariant ratio of their sides. To create a {11 14} angle one can use any multiple of 11 and the same multiple of 14 to obtain the invariant angle whereupon, the hypotenuse and base will shrink or grow together in that ratio: any length on the “14” line is 14/11 of any length below it on the “11” base line and visa versa.

If one enlarges the base line to being 99 then the diagonal of the square side length 99 will be 140, which is 99 times the square root of two. In choosing, as I did, to enlarge 91 (the quarter year) to 9 x 11 = 99, I encountered the cubit of the Samian (“of Samos”) foot of 33/35 feet, as follows. When Heraclitus, also of Samos, visited the Great Pyramid he gave its southerly side length as 800 “of our feet” and 756 English feet (the measured length) needs to be divided by 189 and multiplied by 200 to obtain such a measurement, giving a Samian foot of 189/200 (=0.945 feet) which is 441/440 of the Samian root foot of 33/35 feet. 33/35 x 3/2 = 99/70 (1.4143) feet but its inverse of 35/33 x 4/3 = 140/99 feet.

There is then no doubt about Samos as being a center in the Greek Mysteries since, the form of the Greek temple seems first to evolve there. For example, 10,000 feet of 0.945 feet equal 945 feet, the number of days in 32 lunar months. The Heraion of Samos (pictured above) has been shown to have had pillars around a platform (a peristyle), and an elongated rectangular room (a cella), involving megalithic yards and a 4-square geometry cunningly linking lunar and solar years, to alignments to the Moon’s minimum using the {5 12 13} second Pythagorean Triangle. (diagram at top is from figure 5.9 of Sacred Geometry: Language of the Angels).

The reason for the Samian (lit. “of Samos”) foot being 33/35 feet appears to be that as a cubit of 99/70 feet, or √2 =1.4142, it is the twin of 140/99 as 1.41. In the geometrical world such foot ratios were exact, relative to the English foot; which is the root of the Greek module and of all other rational modules, such as the Royal of 8/7 feet. Such cubits could measure across the diagonal the same number as the side length in English feet. Such measures became essential for building of rectangular temple structures in Greece and further east, but when the metrological geometry, of square and circle in equal perimeter, was the focus, 140 in the diagonal can use 99 in the base (or side-length of the square).

If we remember that the 99 length must be rooted from the shared center of the square and equal circle then, the side length of the square must be twice that, or 198. This means that the perimeter of the square must be 4 times that, equal to 792, at which point readers of John Michell’s books on models of the world will recall that the diameter of the mean earth can be presented, within an equal perimeter design, if each unit is multiplied by 720 units of 10 miles, my own summary being in my recent Sacred Geometry book , chapter 3 on measuring the Earth. This model Michell called The Cosmological Prototype, where the mean earth diameter is (quite accurately) 7920 miles.

If the square of 198 feet is rolled out into a single line, it “becomes” the mean diameter of the Earth in units of 10 miles. For this sort of reason, my 2020 book was called Language of the Angels, since this model looks like a first approximation of the mean earth size which a later Ancient Metrology would improve upon as to accuracy, by a couple of miles! That is, that the earth’s dimensions follow a design based upon metrological geometry and the properties of numbers.

John Michell finalized his Cosmological Model in an Appendix to The Sacred Center, and in his text on “sacred Geometry, Ancient Science, and the Heavenly Order on Earth” called The Dimensions of Paradise, both published by Inner Traditions.

Seven, Eleven and Equal Perimeters

above: image of applications involving sacred geometry based upon pi as 22/7 and a circle of equal perimeter to a square, from a previous post.

The geometrical and other relationships between different numbers are easily found to be useful through simple experiments. The earliest approximations to pi (22/7) was key in the megalithic and later ancient cultures, for making circles of a known diameter and circumference, the foremost using the numbers 7 and 11 doubled twice. A staked rope of length seven will create a circumference of 44, to a high degree of accuracy.

But what is pi? it actually connects two different worlds, of extensive linear measure and of intensive rotational measure. As the radius rope is made larger the circle expands from its center but it remains a whole circle, except that its circumference is made up of more “units” all according to the ratio pi = 22/7, in a good approximation.

But measuring a circumference is fiddly, it is circular! In contrast, it is very much easier to work with squares since their perimeter is four times their side length. And in many cases, one does not really need to measure the perimeter. Because of this, the megalithic looked for and discovered an easier procedure in which one could know the circumference of a circle if one could generate the square that has the same circumference now called the equal perimeter model. This was surprisingly simple to grasp and implement.

First of all, one can lay out a linear length, that divides by 4, lets say 28 which is 4 x 7. The length is made up of four lengths, each of 7 units and, a square of side length 7 will have a perimeter of 28, same as the linear length. The square is really just a rolled-up set of 4 lengths at right angles!

The diameter of a circle with 28 units on its circumference must be larger than its incircle of diameter 7 and, if pi is 22/7 then, the diameter will be exactly 14/11 of the side length. Notice that 14/11 is cancelling the seven and eleven in pi as 22/7.

The equal perimeter rope will be staked in the very center of the square. The side of 7 is then 7 x 14/11 or 98/11 units and this, times 22/7 equals 28 – the perimeter of both the circle, and square side-length 7 units. There is no need to calculate this if one draws a triangle ratio {11 14} from the center of the square. This triangle’s slope angle automatically “calculates” or reproportions the cardinal length (whatever this is) into a suitable rope (or radiant) length.

One often does not need to form the circle to know what its perimeter would be through measurement. Once one knows that every square has a twin circle of the same perimeter, this changes thinking. This is particularly significant when forming a circular model of the sun’s path in the year. If the “saturnian” year 364 days was used, it unusually divides by 28 days, and 13, and 7 days; the seven-day week. The square would have a side length of 13 weeks (91 days) and the radius rope would need to be (13 x 7) x 7/11 which, times 44/7 reconstitutes the circumference of 364 days.

My book Sacred Geometry: Language of the Angels has much to say on equal perimeter modelling, which is found throughout the ancient building traditions that followed on from the megalithic period, using the older techniques of metrological geometry alongside the development of arithmetic methods. Click on the Bookshop logo or Google, and find out more.

How Geometries transformed Time Counts into Circles

Above: example of the geometry that can generate one or more circles,
equal to a linear time count, in the counting units explained below.

It is clear, one so-called “sacred” geometry was in fact a completely pragmatic method in which the fourfold nature of astronomical day and month counts allowed the circularization of counts, once made, and also the transmission of radius ropes able to make metrological metrological circles in other places, without repeating the counting process. This “Equal Perimeter” geometry (see also this tag list) could be applied to any linear time count, through dividing it by pi = 22/7, using the geometry itself. This would lead to a square and a circle, each having a perimeter equal to the linear day count, in whatever units.

And in two previous posts (this one and that one) it was known that orbital cycles tend towards fourfold-ness. We now know this is because orbits are dynamic systems where potential and kinetic energy are cycled by deform the orbit from circular into an ellipse. Once an orbit is elliptical, the distance from the gravitational centre will express potential energy and the orbital speed of say, the Moon, will express the kinetic energy but the total amount of each energy combined will remain constant, unless disturbed from outside.

In the megalithic, the primary example of a fourfold geometry governs the duration of the lunar year and solar year, as found at Le Manio Quadrilateral survey (2010) and predicted (1998) by Robin Heath in his Lunation Triangle with base equal to 12 lunar months and the third side one quarter of that. Three divides into 12 to give 4 equal unit-squares and the triangle can then be seen as doubled within a four-square rectangle, as two contraflow triangles where the hypotenuse now a diagonal of the rectangle.

Continue reading “How Geometries transformed Time Counts into Circles”