As thousands of people sat in the dark in St. Peter's Square, they watched fish jump from the facade of the basilica, saw the word "no" form and dissolve three times and heard an actor reciting the part of St. Peter speak about the overwhelming love and mercy of Jesus.
They also heard tenor Andrea Bocelli sing four songs, including "The First Noel" from the soon-to-be released Christmas album he made with his children Matteo and Virginia.
The nighttime event Oct. 2 was the premiere of "Follow Me," an eight-minute film about the life and faith of St. Peter.
Using "video mapping," images of St. Peter from the basilica's collection and that of the Vatican Museums were turned into 3D video clips and projected onto the facade of the basilica, which is built over the presumed tomb of the apostle.
The film was to be shown every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. until Oct. 16.
Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of the basilica, told viewers that one motivation behind the film was to help people understand that Peter was human, he worked hard as a fisherman -- sometimes catching fish and sometimes catching nothing -- and, although his faith wobbled when Jesus was arrested, he continued to answer Jesus' call to follow him.
"Peter gives light to this place, gives light to the universal church and the world with his humanity, which little by little began to shine with divine light, divine love," the cardinal said.
"He tells us, 'Look, there is a path. I encountered the love of Jesus, who looked deep inside me, and my life was transformed,'" Cardinal Gambetti said.
Jesus had told Peter, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," and despite challenges and opposition and human foibles, the cardinal said, the church stands around St. Peter embracing the world and all its peoples as brothers and sisters.