St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Grottoes


Entering St Peter’s Basilica brings us into a marvelous world that houses 2,000 years of Christianity and is a focal point for Christian faith, history and culture. Two thousand years ago, on the Vatican Hill where today St Peter’s Basilica stands, you would have found Nero’s Circus. Here, St Peter, in October 64Ad, was crucified upside down and buried in the pagan necropolis located a few meters from the circus in a humble poor man’s grave in the barren earth.

The Emperor Constantine, after granting freedom of worship to Christians in 313AD, constructed a Basilica over St Peter’s tomb in his honour. There, between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a new Basilica was constructed leaving part of the original Basilica, which had been a popular place for pilgrimage over the centuries, in place. Today, next to that crucified body lives the Pope, Vicar or Christ and St Peter’s successor. Around the Pope the church gathers to be one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The grottoes are located below the level of the current basilica but above the love of the original Constantinian Basilica. They contain a series of Chapels that are dedicated to many different saints, tombs of Kings and queens and Popes from the tenth century onwards.

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