On the southern facade of Peter’s Palace there is a bas-relief depicting the abduction of Proserpina by Pluto.

Proserpina was the daughter of the almighty Jupiter and Ceres, the goddess of fertility. The extraordinary beauty of Proserpina so impressed the gloomy Pluto, the god of the kingdom of the dead, that he wanted to take her as his wife, and went to Jupiter for permission. Assuming that Pluto will achieve the hand and heart of his beloved with laudatory songs, persuasion and oaths, Jupiter gave his consent to this marriage. But Pluto acted differently. He asked the goddess Tellus to grow a beautiful flower – a trap.

One day, Proserpina and her friends were picking flowers in the meadow. The girl saw the same flower and held out her hand to him. But as soon as she touched him, the earth opened up, a gloomy Pluto appeared on a golden chariot and grabbed her.

Soon Ceres discovered the loss. Fear pierced the heart of the goddess, and she went to look for her daughter. Without rest, for nine whole days and nights, the unfortunate mother spent in search, but all was in vain. Then Ceres turned to the sun god. He told where Proserpina was and by whom she was abducted, and also said that Jupiter knew about everything that had happened to their daughter. These words severely hurt Ceres. From a beautiful goddess, she turned into a hunched old woman and stopped performing her duties. Abandoned nature has ceased to yield. Gardens and fields have turned into a barren desert. To remedy the situation, Jupiter ordered Proserpina to divide her time between her husband and mother, spending two-thirds on earth, and the rest in the underworld.

So, every year, with the approach of spring, Proserpina rises to the ground. At the sight of her daughter, Ceres is transformed and regains her original appearance. Leaves are blooming on the trees, flowers and fruits are appearing.