This week in Christian history: St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Bernadette, Bob Jones backs segregation

Construction begins on St. Peter's Basilica — April 18, 1506

A view shows faithful gathering in St. Peter's Square as Pope Francis leads the Palm Sunday mass at the Vatican March 29, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Max Rossi)

This week marks the anniversary of when the foundation stone was laid at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, beginning the construction of one of the most prominent churches in the world.

Built as a replacement for Old St. Peter’s Basilica, which had been constructed in the fourth century, the Basilica was completed in 1615 and for over three hundred years was the largest church in all of Christianity.

“If, for the faithful of a specific area, every church constitutes a religiously significant reference point, the Basilica built over the Apostle Peter's tomb has an exceptional value for Catholics throughout the world,” said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in a speech in 2006.

“St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, together with the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, certainly has the greatest historical, and even more, symbolic value of all Christian churches.”

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