The Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City in Rome is one of the largest churches in the world. It was designed by a number of great Italian architects including Donato Bromante, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Carlo Maderno, and Michaelangelo. While it is not the Mother Church of the Catholic Church nor the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, it is considered as one of the holiest Catholic shrine. It holds a unique position in the Christian world and is the greatest of all churches of Christendom.
Tradition holds the belief that Saint Peter, the first Apostle was buried in this church, supposedly directly below the high altar of the basilica. Many other Popes and bishops have been interred in this church following St. Peter. This church had been standing there since the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great. Construction of the new basilica began in 1506, replacing the old basilica which was erected there in AD 400. It was completed in 1626.
This is indeed one of the most solemn places one could find to meditate and pray. It is so quiet and still that if you dropped a pin on the floor you could audibly hear its distinctive sound as it hits the ground.
This church is a famous place of pilgrimage, where about a million or so pilgrims visit each year. This speaks volumes about their strong Catholic devotion to the church. It is also a venue for many liturgical assemblies for the bishops and priests.
When I visited the place, it was absolutely quiet, the silence was deafening, literally. There were few visitors at the time, a handful of old lady quietly praying in some of the pews near the altar. There was something mysterious about the air, it was not incense, but something smelled strange. It wasn’t a foul odor or anything but rather somewhat sweet and pungent. There must have been a garden nearby and the flowers were in bloom. This gave an me an out of this world feeling like I was floating in the air or something. This experience still puzzles me to this day.
The Saint Peter’s Basilica is believed to have been the church that Saint Peter himself built, fulfilling the prophecy from Jesus when he told Peter, “Upon this rock I shall build my church.” This, of course referring to Peter as the “rock” upon which Jesus will build his church.