Or crypt, the only part of the Basilica of Constantine still in existence. This is the very interesting as it contains many important tombs of Kings, popes, and precious relics of the primitive Church, which narrate in monumental characters the history of twelve centuries of Christianity. Down there are visible also the tombs of the last Popes.
The Bronze Canopy of St. Peter’s Basilica
The bronze Canopy covers the tomb of the Apostle and the confession (I) of the old Church. It is the work of Bernini, executed by the artist for Pope Urban VIII, who inaugurated it in 1633.
The present Confession, enlarged and decorated by Pope Paul V, after a design of Maderno, is surrounded by a balustrade of fine marble and by lamps, burning night and day, before the tomb of the Apostle. A double flight of steps leads down to the confession which shines with the greatest variety of marble.
At the foot of the stairs are two little columns of agate, supporting the statuettes of the two Apostles Peter and Paul.
The confession is the Pantheon of the Pope, as nearly all the successors of the Apostle, (All martyrs) were buried here up to the period of Pope St. Zephyrinus (died 219 A.D.), after which they began to bury the popes in the Catacombs. In the centre of the confession is the tomb of St. Peter. He was the pope who was exiled by Napoleon and having died in banishment, was considered worthy of the honour of being buried here among the early martyrs. The statue is the last work of Canova. Driver Guide Service in Rome, Rome Private Tours.