McDonald’s at St. Peters Basilica?

Photo Courtesy of // McDonald’s sign is seen at Via della Conciliazione street in Rome, Italy in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Salvador Martinez, Photojournalist

Over the objections of Roman Catholic clergy and residents near Rome, a McDonald’ fast food restaurant opened last week right outside of St. Peter’s Basilica.


The restaurant opened at the corner of Borgo Pio and Via del Mascherino, which is the Roman Catholic district of Borgo, which leads to St Peter’s Basilica. According to the Committee for the Protection of Borgo, a group of residents called it a “decisive blow on an already wounded creature,” referring to the trinket-hawking vendors already proliferating in the area.

In an interview with La Republicca in October, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia called the restaurant’s arrival a “disgrace” and said the space should have been used to help those in need, not to promote business. He mentioned the addition of the restaurant mixed in with the artistic state of the area and was “very disrespectful in the architectural and urban traditions of one of the most characteristic squares, St. Peter’s Basilica.” And then there is the matter of the food itself, which does “not offer guarantees for the health of the people, foods I would never eat,” added the cardinal, who retired as the leader of the Pontifical Academy for Life. “It’s a business decision that ignores the culinary tradition of Roman cuisine,” he stated.

Despite the complaints, the agency of St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican Agency) that oversees its real estate holdings approved a lease, and the restaurant quietly opened last week without public protests. Only protests by the clergy and religious members of the Roman Catholic Church were found prominent.

It is not the first time McDonald’s has had difficulties moving into a venerable areas. The restaurant chain sued the City of Florence, Italy for $20 million in November after leaders there blocked efforts to open a location in Piazza del Duomo, a popular tourist destination in Italy. The city’s mayor, Dario Nardella, said he wanted to support “traditional business” in the area, according to the agency of  France-Presse. “McDonald’s has the right to submit an application because this is permitted under the law, but we also have the right to say no,” he stated.

In the eyes of multiple people, McDonald’s should be removed because it’s showing disrespect to St. Peter’s Basilica. Valeria Lopez (10) says that “McDonald’s right outside the Vatican is disrespectful. The Vatican is a Church for worship, not a place to hold businesses.” Another student, Jessica Vo (11) states, “I think the people wanted to have a McDonald’s, Why don’t they just place it far away from the Vatican?”