A Guide For The Pilgrim
St Peter’s Basilica
Within St Peter’s Basilica are buried many prominent saints and about 100 of the 264 deceased popes. The following are those that are celebrated on the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar. They are listed in the order that they are found within the basilica when one tours the basilica in a counter-clockwise direction. Also the following image marks with a dot the rough location of each chapel.
Relics Located On The Right Side Of The Nave
Saint John Paul II, pope
Chapel of St Sebastian - Located on the right side of the nave just after Michelangelo’s statue of the Pieta.
*In 2011, in preparation for his beatification, the remains of St John Paul II (d. 2005) were removed from the crypt of this basilica and placed within the altar in this chapel. Since thousands of people visit this basilica every day the tomb is roped off to provide a small area of prayer. Access is granted if one asks to pray at the tomb.
Saint Gregory Nazianzen, bishop and doctor
Altar of Our Lady of Succour - Located on the right side of the nave just after the entrance to the confessional area.
*Beneath this altar are some relics of St Gregory Nazianzen (d. 389). In 2004 a major part of these relics were returned to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
Saint John XXIII, pope
Altar of St Jerome - Located on the right side of the nave at the base of the first column.
*The body of St John XXIII (d. 1963) rests under this altar. He is known in particular for announcing the opening of the Second Vatican Council.
Saint Josaphat, bishop and martyr
Altar of St Basil - Located within the confessional area on the back side of the first column.
*The remains of St Josaphat rest below this altar. During the early part of the 17th century he valiantly tried to bring Christians within the Polish-Lithuanian Kingdom of Eastern Europe into full communion with Church of Rome. As a result of his efforts he suffered martyrdom in 1623.
Relics Associated With St Peter
Saint Peter, apostle
*Tradition holds that St Peter was crucified upside down in the middle of Nero’s Circus. The Altar of The Crucifixion located in the left transept of St Peter’s Basilica is very close to the actual site where this crucifixion took place.
*The bones of St Peter are in the confessio below the Papal Altar and his jawbone can be seen on the Scavi tour.
*Tradition holds that within the large bronze chair located above the Altar of the Chair in the apse of the church is a second smaller chair made out of wood. This second chair is said to consist of fragments from the original Episcopal chair that St Peter once sat in.
Relics Located On The Left Side Of The Nave
Saint Leo the Great, pope and doctor
Altar of St Leo the Great - Located in the far left corner of the left transept.
*The remains of St Leo the Great (d. 461) rest under this altar.
*St Leo was known both for his exemplar defense of orthodox theology and for his efforts in halting the advance of the Barbarian tribes. A marble relief of his important meeting with Attila the Hun is placed above this altar.
Saints Simon and Jude, apostles
St Joseph’s Altar - Located in the left transept where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.
*Relics of the two apostles, St Simon and St Jude, rest under this altar.
Saint Luke, evangelist & Saint Sebastian, martyr
Treasury Museum - Located within the hallway leading to the sacristy.
*Many important artifacts are within this museum. Of special importance are the following relics of St Luke and St Sebastian.
*A silver reliquary bust is said to contain the head of St Luke. This reliquary dates back to the 14th century and the relic is said to have come from Constantinople. However, this same relic is also said to be located in the Cathedral of St Vitus in Prague, Czech Republic. A recent study on the relics of St Luke was conducted at the request of Archbishop Antonio Malttiazzo of Padua in 1998. This study seems to suggest that the authentic relic of St Luke’s head is the one within the Cathedral of St Vitus.
*Also placed within a glass-sided reliquary is the skull of St Sebastian. Before its placement in this museum this skull was located in the Roman church of Santi Quattro Coronati.
Saint Gregory the Great, pope and doctor
Altar of St Gregory the Great - Located within the left transept near the entrance to the sacristy.
*Relics of St Gregory the Great (d. 604) rest below this altar. The mosaic above this altar recounts a Eucharistic miracle attributed to him.
Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor
Chapel of the Immaculate Conception
*Also known as the Wedding Chapel or the Chapel of the Choir
*This is the third chapel on the left side of the nave.
*Some relics of St John Chrysostom (d. 407) rest below the altar within this chapel. In 2004 a major part of these relics were returned to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
Saint Pius X, pope
Presentation Chapel - Located on the left side of the nave between the Baptistry and the Wedding Chapel.
*The body of St Pius X (d. 1914) rests under the altar in this chapel. He is known in particular for lowering the age of First Communion to the Age of Reason.