Saint Peter's Basilica

Saint Peter’s Basilica is the largest church in Rome, built by Constantine over the site of the tomb of Peter, the Apostle and first bishop of Rome. The basilica stands at the foot of the Vatican Hill, outside the walls of Rome proper. The main building is a great rectangular hall, about 300 feet long and 100 feet wide. It runs east to west, with the entrance in the east and the tomb of Saint Peter in the east, in a semi-circular apse. Although the body of the saint is not visible, his tomb is; the current structure was built around 200, at a time when the Christians were not being actively persecuted, and is of brick. Constantine surrounded it with a great bronze superstructure, so that now the original mausoleum can be seen only by peering through the gaps.

The basilica has more than 100 columns, which were gathered from all over Rome and are, accordingly, very diverse. No two capitals or bases are alike, and some of the pillars are very elaborate, carved in a spiral shape with leaves and flowers as decoration. There are five doors in the eastern end of the church, which lead into a square courtyard, surrounded by a colonnade.

Although the Basilica of Saint Peter is the largest church in Rome, the basilica is not Rome’s cathedral; that honor is held by the Lateran Church. This makes the basilica a little isolated from the administration of Christianity, and this, in turn, has endeared it to the Christian Kindred, and many of the Lancea et Sanctum. Unlike most churches, the basilica is kept open all night, thanks to the influence of vampires who wanted to be able to worship in peace.

Saint Peter’s tomb was located just outside a circus, which was the site of his martyrdom, and at the base of the Vatican Hill. In order to build the basilica, Constantine demolished the circus, and cut away part of the hill. The hill still overshadows the basilica to the north, and water seeping down makes the whole church rather damp.

As with many churches, the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica risked cutting into Necropolis. One ancient entrance was through a tomb near that of Saint Peter, which was in the area to be cleared for the basilica’s platform. Thanks to the intervention of members of the Lancea et Sanctum, the entrance was preserved; it now opens into the north wall of the atrium.

Saint Peter's Basilica

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