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Sat, Jan 19


St. Peter's Basilica

Under the Vatican St Peter Tomb Tour

January 19th 2019 - This is a special tour of the Tomb of St Peters underneath the Great Basilica of St Peters. This is an AICR Members Only Event (Plus one paying Guest).

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Under the Vatican St Peter Tomb Tour
Under the Vatican St Peter Tomb Tour

Time & Location

Jan 19, 2019, 10:00 AM

St. Peter's Basilica, Piazza San Pietro, 00120 Città del Vaticano, Vatican City

About the event

This is a special tour of the Tomb of St Peters underneath the Great Basilica of St Peters. This is an AICR Members Only Event (Plus one paying Guest).


St. Peter was (said to be crucified) in Rome in 64 C.E., at the orders of the Emperor Nero. (Peter asked to be crucified upside-down, because he did not think he was worthy of being crucified right-side up as Jesus was.)

In the basilica of Santa Maria del Popolo, in Piazza del Popolo in Rome, you can visit the Cerasi chapel, where you can admire two stunning paintings by Caravaggio (among works by many other important artists).

In this painting, Saint Peter is shown being crucified upside-down.

You have to stand to the right and lean in to see it.

(The other Caravaggio painting in this chapel depicts the conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Saints Peter and Paul are the patron saints of Rome.)

Saint Peter was crucified in an arena known as Caligula’s Circus. (Caligula was emperor before Nero, and had built a “circus”, which in ancient Rome referred to an open-air stadium or field where games were held. This particular arena is also called Nero's Circus.)

In Ancient Rome, the dead were buried just outside the city walls, in an area called a Necropolis.

It's thought that St. Peter was buried near where he was martyred, in the necropolis on the Vatican Hill (it was called Vatican Hill before Christianity came along, although there is some discussion as to the exact origin of the name).

In the 4th century, when Constantine became the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity, he had a church built on the site of Saint Peter's grave, and called it Saint Peter's Basilica.

A 19th century engraving of Old Saint Peter's basilica as it would have looked in the 15th century, before it was replaced by the current basilica. Photo - wikipedia

This basilica, now referred to as Old Saint Peter's, does not exist any more, as it was replaced in the Renaissance by the basilica you see today:

St Peter's basilica, built in the 16th-17th centuries, as we know it today.

When Michelangelo was designing the current Saint Peter's Basilica, he purposefully centered the dome right over the spot where St. Peter is presumed to be buried.

Later, many popes chose to be buried in the Vatican grottoes, just underneath Michelangelo's dome.

Presumably they wanted to be near the tomb of Saint Peter. You can visit those tombs directly from inside the basilica, on a normal visit there.

Michelangelo's dome, and later, Bernini's "baldachin", or canopy, are centered directly over St Peters tomb

Advanced registration is required by Wednesday, January 16th.  

When: Saturday, December 19th

Time: 10:00 am

Where: St Peters Basilica

Event price: 20 Euros for AICR Members (Paying guest may join an AICR Member)

*Photo Disclaimer: by purchasing a ticket for this event, you agree to having your photograph taken and used on the AICR website and Facebook page. If you would prefer not to have your photo used in this manner for this event, you must notify the AICR office via email (


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    Members can bring 1 paying guest.

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