The basilica of St Peter on the Vatican and that of St Paul outside the Walls, both erected by Constantine on the site of their martyrdom and built over their tomb, are hardly inferior, owing to their origin and importance, to the basilica of St John Lateran. They were also consecrated by St Sylvester, on 18th November.
At St Peter's is held the Station of the Saturday in Ember week, when Holy Orders are conferred; of the third Sunday in Advent, Epiphany, Passion Sunday, Easter Monday, Ascension Day, Pentecost, the Litanies of St Mark, and Rogation Wednesday. This church was completely rebuilt in the 16th century when it was falling into decay. Popes Julius II and Leo X had recourse to the greatest artists of the age, Bramante and Michaelangelo. Urban VIII consecrated this church, the vastest and richest in the world, on 18th November 1626.
The basilica of St Paul, on the Ostian Way, was, on account of distance, only used for the Station four times a year - Holy Innocents, Sexagesima, Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent or day of the great scrutiny, and Easter Tuesday. Having been completely destroyed by fire in 1823, the church was rebuilt with unheard of magnificence by Gregory XVI and Pius IX, and consecrated by the latter on 10th December 1854, two days after the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
Terríbilis est locus iste: hic domus Dei est et porta coeli: et vocabitur aula Dei. * Quam dilecta tabernacula tua, Domine virtutum! concupiscit, et deficit anima mea in atria Domini.Terrible is this place: it is the house of God, and the gate of heaven; and it shall be called the court of God. * How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts! my soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.
(Genesis 28:17 and Psalm 83:2-3 from the Introit of Mass)
Deus, qui nobis per síngulos annos hujus sancti templi tui consecrationis reparas diem, et sacris semper mysteriis representas incolumes: exaudi preces populi tui, et praesta; ut, quisquis hoc templum benefícia petiturus ingreditur, cuncta se impetrasse laetetur.
O God, who every year dost renew the day of the consecration of this Thy holy temple, and continuest to bring us in safety to Thy sacred mysteries, graciously hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant that all who enter this temple to implore Thy blessings, may rejoice in obtaining whatsoever they ask.
The Lord hath made this tabernacle * his holy place, for this is the house of the Lord, wherein we stand before his presence and cry unto him, and whereof it is written: My Name shall be there, saith the Lord.
(Magnificat Antiphon from 1st Vespers)
Blessed City, heavenly Salem,
Who, of living stones upbuilded,
Art the joy of heaven above,
And, with Angel cohorts circled,
As a bride to earth dost move!
(From the hymn, Caelestis Urbs Jerusalem)
From the Catholic Encyclopaedia on the Basilica of St Peter: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13369b.htm
From the Catholic Encyclopaedia on the Basilica of St Paul: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13369a.htm
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