Peter's Basilica, or the Basilica de San Pietro in Vaticano,
is probably the largest church in the Christian faith. It occupies
an area of 23,000 square kilometers, and can house as much as 60,000
devotees. Of the five major basilicas in Rome's Vatican City
cluster, this house of worship is ranked as second.
was named after St Peter because it was believed that the site it
now stands on was the burial place of its namesake saint, St. Peter,
one of Christ's twelve apostles. St Peter was also the first
Bishop of Antioch, and eventually, became the first bishop of Rome.
Faithful followers believe that his tomb can be found just beneath
the church's baldachino and altar, and soon after, other popes
have been buried in the same location.
Construction of this basilica began in 1506, and
was concluded in 1626. The current site of St Peter's Basilica
used to be the location of the Constantinian Basilica.
The basilica is not the ecumenical mother church,
as most people are prone to believe. The fact is, the basilica is
not a cathedral at all, and cannot hold the distinction of being
the cathedral of the Pope. It is the Basilica di San Giovanni in
Laterano that holds the honor of being such. However, St Peter's,
because of its proximity to the Papal residence, is the venue of
numerous Papal ceremonies.