Erich Lessing

St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City is named for the apostle buried beneath the church’s high altar. According to the early church father Jerome, the New Testament letter-writer arrived in Rome in about 42 A.D. He may have been martyred during the reign of the emperor Nero —who blamed the Christians for the famous fire of 63‒64 A.D., which destroyed the city—and then buried in a graveyard on Vatican Hill. By the second century, a funerary monument had been added to the site; in the fourth century, Emperor Constantine erected a church above the tomb. Finally, the 16th-century architects Bramante and Michelangelo designed and built much of the grand basilica that dominates St. Peter’s Square today.