St. Peter’s Tomb: Searching for Secrets Beneath the Basilica with Livia Galante

St. Peter’s Tomb: Searching for Secrets Beneath the Basilica with Livia Galante


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Follow in the footsteps of Apostle Peter to Rome and explore the subterranean levels beneath the most important Christian church of the world, St. Peter’s Basilica.  Archaeologist Livia Galante takes us below ground to find St. Peter's tomb.

Beneath the splendor of St. Peter's Basilica, over 2,000 years of Roman history lies buried. Located at a depth of about 30 feet beneath the most visited church in the world, lies the Vatican Necropolis, a network of underground graves and mausoleums that were once open-air. We will explore the history of this site, using topographic evidence to support the timeline of events. Along the way, we will connect Peter’s execution during the reign of Emperor Nero in AD 64 “in the Vatican near the arena” to Caligula’s circus near to the Necropolis. We will explore the stuccoes, frescoes, and mosaic floors that give us clues about the life and times of St. Peter.

Next, we will fast forward to the year 313 AD when Emperor Constantine declared Christian religion legal and promoted the construction of a church above the venerated tomb of the Apostle Peter. In order to create a foundation large enough for the grandiose building, he filled in all the old pagan tombs and designed the basilica in the form of a cross just above the tomb of Peter.

It was not until 1939 when preparatory excavations were underway in the grotto beneath the main level of St. Peter’s Basilica for the tomb of Pope Pius XI that the necropolis was brought to light. Further archaeological excavations uncovered the early tombs, perfectly preserved. The dig proceeded up to and under the high altar where, it is believed, St. Peter’s tomb would have been located. It was there that Professor Margherita Guarducci, famous Italian archaeologist and epigrapher, is believed to have found the remnants of the Apostle.

Led by an expert on Ancient Roman Topography, Livia Galante, this interactive seminar will focus on the Necropolis under St. Peters Basilica. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the complicated stratigraphy underneath St. Peter’s Basilica and St. Peter’s burial place beneath the church.

Livia obtained a degree in Archaeology at the Sapienza University of Rome and has a Master's degree in the History and Conservation of Cultural Heritage from the University of Roma Tre. Her main field of interest is ancient Roman topography and early Christian architecture; however, she is an accomplished scholar whose teaching ability extends to the Renaissance and Baroque Rome. As a native Roman, Livia is very enthusiastic in sharing the deep love and knowledge she has for her hometown with clients.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
83%
(5)
0%
(0)
17%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
K
K.S.
Expert knowledge presented clearly and with an infectious enthusiasm

Livia presented this talk with her usual infectious enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge. Her talks are always well worth attending.

N
N.L.
Secrets in the Spaces of Tombs

This archeological narrative tells the fascinating historical and religious story of St. Peter's Tomb in Rome. Looking at mosaics, layers of architecture, and the social function of tombs., Livia Galante created an absorbing, even exciting, underground story!

L
L.
Fascinating

Livia was excellent! We learned a great deal. Her presentation was fascinating.

T
T.

I always enjoy Livia’s well prepared seminars. This was such an interesting story of the history of St Peter, the Vatican and the Basilica

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
83%
(5)
0%
(0)
17%
(1)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
K
K.S.
Expert knowledge presented clearly and with an infectious enthusiasm

Livia presented this talk with her usual infectious enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge. Her talks are always well worth attending.

N
N.L.
Secrets in the Spaces of Tombs

This archeological narrative tells the fascinating historical and religious story of St. Peter's Tomb in Rome. Looking at mosaics, layers of architecture, and the social function of tombs., Livia Galante created an absorbing, even exciting, underground story!

L
L.
Fascinating

Livia was excellent! We learned a great deal. Her presentation was fascinating.

T
T.

I always enjoy Livia’s well prepared seminars. This was such an interesting story of the history of St Peter, the Vatican and the Basilica

A
A.

Guest did not leave comment