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BASILICAS OF ST. PETER & ST. PAUL

BASILICAS OF SAINT PETER AND SAINT PAUL

 

St. Peter’s Basilica: The largest church edifice in the world, built above the traditional site of the martyrdom and burial of St. Peter, Christ’s appointed vicar and the first Pope of the Catholic Church. Though within the modern city of Rome today, more specifically at the heart of Vatican City, the site of St. Peter’s in ancient times was outside the city limits and, therefore, appropriate by Roman custom to serve as a burial ground, a fact confirmed only in recent years by the archaeological excavations beneath the Renaissance basilica.

 

 

Saint Peter's Basilica with Obelisk

 

The Piazza di San Pietro, with its still more ancient Egyptian obelisk at its core, is likely laid out over the site of Nero’s forum, which, despite tradition, was a far more commonly used place than the Roman Colosseum for the persecution and martyrdom of the early Christians. The literary evidence suggests that St. Peter was martyred by crucifixion, head downward out of deference to the Lord, in this forum, and that his body was quickly and discreetly removed to a nearby Christian burial place. After a brief removal of his remains to the Catacombs of St. Sebastian, they were returned to the burial place closer to his martyrdom, and here Constantine built the first basilica in the fourth century in honor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles. Recent archaeological research confirms the belief that Peter’s remains are in fact still entombed immediately beneath the high altar of the present basilica.

  

St Paul’s Outside the Walls Church Façade

 

Because of its proximity to the papal palace of the Vatican, though not the cathedral of the Bishop of Rome (St. John Lateran is the cathedral), St. Peter’s Basilica is used for most of the major ceremonies of the Catholic Church, the coronations or, more recently, the installations of Popes, their funerals, canonization of saints, and the papal Masses on major feasts, such as Christmas and Easter. The last two of the twenty-one ecumenical councils of the Church have been held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

 

Source Text: Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Dictionary.

 

 


This article was published on Thursday 18 November, 2010.

Back to main topic: STUDY THE WORD OF GOD
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