Scala/Art Resource, NY

Peter’s tomb lies directly below the high altar of the basilica and just behind the Niche of the Pallia (shown here, at center), where liturgical robes (pallia) are laid out overnight prior to being bestowed on new bishops. The vertical rectangle immediately to the right of the off-center Byzantine mosaic of Jesus is actually part of a second-century supporting wall that stood beside the tomb; modern excavators found in this wall a concealed niche containing the bones of a man in his 60s, shrouded in expensive purple cloth. In 1968 the church proclaimed them to be the relics of St. Peter.