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 CNS Story:

Vatican excavations site
is popular pilgrim destination

By Catholic News Service

Two levels below St. Peter’s Basilica lies an excavated Roman graveyard full of mausoleums, frescoes, inscriptions and stucco decorations. It was here that, in the 1940s, experts uncovered the bones of a tall man whose grave had been venerated in early times. Many think they were the bones of St. Peter, who was believed martyred in Nero’s Circus nearby.

The Vatican necropolis is accessible by appointment only. Visitors must submit a request ahead of time. Then they are contacted at their hotel or residence in Rome and told when to appear for a tour in their native language.

Each group consists of about 12 people who must be at least 15 years old (children between 11-15 are allowed if accompanied by a parent).

Requests should be made in writing or by e-mail to:

Excavations Office
Fabbrica di San Pietro
00120 Vatican City
Tel. (39-06) 6988-5318
Fax (39-06) 6987-3017 or 6988-5518
E-mail: scavi@fsp.va

The request should state names and number of visitors in your group, the language desired for the visit, the time period of your stay in Rome, and contact information (hotel phone and fax number, for example) in Rome. The Excavations Office confirms the appointment by mail in advance when possible, or by phone if the visiting group is already in Rome.

Cost is:
— 10 euros per person ($12 if mailed from the United States).
— 5 euros per child ($6 if mailed from the United States).
The excavation office is reached on foot through the Arco delle Campane (Arch of the Bells -- to the left of the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica). Simply tell the Swiss Guard you are there for the excavation tour. Before entering the Arch of the Bells, you should deposit backpacks or other bags in the baggage deposit, located on the right facade of the basilica. Dress should be appropriate for a holy place (no shorts or sleeveless shirts).

For additional information, visit the Excavations Office’s Web site at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/

Copyright © 2004 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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