1950, Scavi Beneath The Vatican
a workman examining an ancient arch beneath the vatican

In 1950, the Vatican had made a very bold move in an attempt to find the tomb of Saint Peter. The Vatican has always said that the “Prince of Apostoles” had been buried in a pagan cemetery, and now, despite the fear of damaging the foundation of Saint Peter’s, the workmen were sent to the underbelly of the largest church in the world to find the proof.

Here is the gallery of photographs taken during the excavations of 1950.

a workman examining an ancient arch beneath the vatican
A workman examining an ancient arch beneath the Vatican
inside the saint peter's basilica, rome
Saint Peter’s Basilica
ancient pagan cemetery (catacombs) beneath the vatican
Ancient catacombs beneath the Vatican
a burial chamber inside the catacombs of the vatican
A burial chamber inside the catacombs of the Vatican
beautifully decorated burial chamber with a mosaic floor
A beautifully decorated pagan burial chamber with a mosaic floor.
fragments of an ancient mosaic on the wall of a burial cubical
Fragments of an ancient mosaic on the wall of a burial cubical beneath the Vatican
archaeologist examining a chamber
Archaeologists examining chambers hidden for 1600 years
the underbelly of the vatican
Exploring the underbelly of the Vatican
pagan catacombs beneath the saint peter's basilica, vatican
Pagan catacombs beneath the Saint Peter’s Basilica, Vatican
marble urn uncovered during the excavation
A marble urn uncovered during the excavation
an ancient roman sarcophagus used as construction material
An ancient Roman sarcophagus used as construction material, partially excavated
A workman proudly holding the finds
A workman proudly holding the finds
the excavation was challenging, to say the least - the underground site was often flooded due to the heavy rains
The excavation was challenging, to say the least – the underground site was often flooded due to the heavy rains
corridors and tunnels belong to both - ancient basilica and pagan catacombs
Corridors and tunnels belong to both – ancient basilica and pagan catacombs

one of the oldest christian images ever discovered

some of the frescoes have been preserved
Frescoed walls of a burial chamber in a wonderful state of preservation
part of an acient coffin
A stunning detail from one of the ancient coffins discovered during the dig

Courtesy of: Nat Farbman The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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