History of St. Peter's Basilica | Timeline, Facts & More
St. Peter's Basilica
None of the city's magnificent cathedrals can compare to St Peter's Basilica, Italy's largest, richest, and most stunning basilica. It was consecrated in Rome in 1626 after 120 years of construction on top of a 4th-century church. Its opulent interior has a plethora of spectacular works of art, including some of Italy's most renowned masterpieces by Bernini and Michelangelo. More than anything else, St Peter's Basilica is steeped in history. Read on to delve deeper into its rich past.
64 CE: This was the year that Saint Peter was crucified and buried at Vatican Hill.
333 - 1505: During the Middle Ages, Old St. Peter's Basilica flourished and became the most important pilgrimage site in the Western world.
1505: The old church was demolished under the orders of Pope Julius II. He decided to built a new church in the place of the old one.
1506: Construction of the new St. Peter's Basilica began.
1626: The new church was officially established at the heart of Vatican City.
History of St. Peter's Basilica Explained
Circus of Nero
Around the year 64 CE, there was a massive fire in Rome that destroyed the majority of the city. Many historians claim that Emperor Nero was behind the fire. Nero, however, blamed the Christian sect for the fire. He believed that their refusal to worship the Roman Gods was what led them to start the fire. This led to a horrible series of persecutions of innocent Christians. Nero held these executions at the Circus, for the public to see and be entertained. During this time, Saint Peter was conducting his sermons in Rome which led to his crucifixion on the orders of Emperor Nero. The Circus of Nero existed where St. Peter’s Square is today.
Collapse & Rebuilding of the Basilica
Old St Peter's Basilica, like many medieval churches, eventually fell into disrepair. Nearly 1,200 years after its completion, Old St. Peter's Basilica was in a horrible state after serving as one of Rome's most prominent churches. One of the building's side walls was said to be tilting about 6 feet off the wall, indicating that it was on the edge of collapsing. Many Popes attempted to restore parts of the basilica during the next few years to preserve the priceless edifice, but all of their attempts failed. Finally, Pope Julius II, who reigned from 1503 to 1513, decided to demolish the structure and replace it with a new basilica.
The Era of Construction
St. Peter’s Basilica Today
Frequently Asked Questions About the History of St. Peter's Basilica
A. St. Peter was buried on Vatican Hill.