The present 16th-cent. building replaced an older basilican structure, erected by Constantine (d. 337) on the supposed site of St Peter's crucifixion. Nicholas V (1447–55) planned to replace it by a new church in the form of a Latin cross. Work, begun under Julius II in 1506, was continued by a succession of architects, who all made changes in the design. The building was finished in 1614 and consecrated in 1626.
The traditional burial-place of St Peter is the confessio under the high altar. Excavations carried out since 1940 have revealed the existence of a Christian shrine dating from the 3rd cent., if not earlier.
Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700).