So, where and what is this necropolis Pope Francis visited?

Pope Francis, followed by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, visits the necropolis on April 1, 2013. / AP PHOTO/L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO

I was surprised to read here that Pope Francis is the first pontiff to tour the “scavi” — the “Tomb of Saint Peter and the Necropolis under the Vatican Basilica”. My husband and I were lucky enough to tour those narrow, very humid streets beneath St. Peter’s (only unearthed in the 20th century) in 2010, and although I am rather claustrophobic, the place was too fascinating, and the privilege of being there too humbling to give in to it. To finally find ourselves just a few feet from the burial spot of Peter was breathtaking and affecting. I still get goosebumps remembering it, and how profoundly emotional it was to sense the connection with our roots — to share a moment in time, so to speak, with Peter.

If you don’t think you’ll ever get a chance to visit Rome or tour the Scavi, the Vatican has actually created an excellent interactive tour-site which gives you a great sense of it. Do check it out. It’s worth the time.

Map of the Scavi

About Elizabeth Scalia
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  • Adam

    Don’t forget that Peter’s bones lie more or less directly under the grand altar in St. Peter’s basilica, which itself is directly under the cross at the top of the dome. Architecturally, it creates this wonderful image of heaven and earth being linked in one line.

  • Anne

    I was able to tour the Scavi in 2009, and I can relate a little to the claustrophobia. That first room when you’ve gone down the levels and you’re sealed in by those doors in is a little discomfiting initially, especially when you’re with a decent-sized groups (I think there were about 15 of us) but I agree completely that you forget about it. Tt was absolutely incredible, the layers of history there.
    It’s hard to believe Pope Francis is the first pope to take that tour as well.

  • CV

    The Scavi tour was hands down the most unforgettable experience I had in Rome. I brought my 13-year old daughter, who was under the minimum age for the tour. We lied to the Vatican! Surely that is a sin :) But it was worth it…

  • Kay

    That was a fascinating and very well-done virtual tour. Thanks for posting the link.