We gave it a B+
What with runaway building costs, corrupt officials, and 162 years of work, St. Peter’s Basilica was the ultimate government construction job. Begun in 1505, the cathedral was built in fits and starts, aided by inspired architects, interrupted by the 1527 sack of Rome, and hindered by popes who were more profiteers than pontiffs. It became such a money pit that Martin Luther included its tab among his 95 Theses that led to the Protestant Reformation. With her vivid portrayals of the landmark’s complex creators (including the irascible Michelangelo and the conniving Raphael), R.A. Scotti manages to turn Basilica — a potentially dry architectural tale — into a Vatican version of Dynasty.