Dedication of the Churches of Ss. Peter and Paul, apostles (November 17)
The two great apostles, Sts Peter and Paul, are honored today in the ancient churches where their bodies are buried. The Basilica of St Paul and the Vatican Basilica of St Peter were built originally in the fourth century and are reminders of the apostles who founded the Roman church and are still its protectors.
The early Christians marked the place where their founding apostles were martyred with special care. Peter, ancient sources report, was martyred on the Vatican hill in 64 near the obelisk not far from the circus of Caligula and Emperor Nero. He was buried nearby in a cemetery. The Emperor Constantine erected the first basilica of St Peter over the burial site in 326 while Sylvester was Pope. Later in 1626, the present basilica designed during the Renaissance was built. Recent excavations have uncovered the ancient burial place of Peter under the papal altar of the church.