The Church Built on Peter

After St. Peter died upside down on a cross in the Circus of Caligula and Nero, the surviving Christians obtained his body and buried him quickly nearby, on the steeply sloping Vatican Hill to the north of the Circus. That hill had become a makeshift graveyard four months earlier after the fire of Rome had killed so many residents of the metropolis that their loved ones began to use any open spot they could find on the roadsides radiating outside the city.The Christians buried Peter in a simple “poor man’s grave,” which consisted of a shallow hole in the ground, where they placed the apostle’s body, and covered it with a series of six terracotta tiles in the form of a gable. Since Peter’s pauper’s plot was on the side of a heavily inclined hill, it was in serious danger of being destroyed by erosion when the rains came. So the early Christians on two separate occasions built small, primitive brick walls around the tomb as protection. This was the way the prince of the apostles’ grave stood for almost a hundred years…

There’s more here.


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