The Roman Catholic Church will observe tomorrow (Nov. 18) the feast of the dedication of the imposing Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, Italy, two of the four major Roman basilicas of the Catholic faith.

peter - Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter & Paul

The two other important basilicas are St. Mary Major and St. John Lateran.

According to records, the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul have been visited for more than two millennia by more pilgrims and tourists than any other place in the world.

The beautiful structures were built in honor of the two apostles of Jesus Christ by Emperor Constantine during the 4th century.

Catholic bishops from around the world, including Filipino bishops, hold the “Visita ad Limina Apostolorum” or the Visit to the Tombs of the Apostles every five years to meet with the Pope and renew their commitment to the service of Christ and His Church.

This requirement was initially set out in 1585 by Pope Sixtus V, who issued the papal bull Romanus Pontifex, which established the norms for these visits. On December 31,1909, Pope Pius X decreed that a bishop needs to report to the pope an account of the state of his diocese once every five years, starting in 1911.

The Basilica of St. Peter, considered as the largest and richest church in the world, was built on Vatican Hill, where the Prince of the Apostles was martyred and buried in 64 A.D. The basilica was consecrated by Pope Urban VIII on Nov. 18, 1626.

The Basilica of St. Paul, the second largest church in the world, was built on the Ostian Way, outside the city of Rome or outside-the-walls, a short distance from the Three Fountains where St. Paul was beheaded in 64 A.D. Pope Pius IX consecrated the basilica on Dec. 10, 1854, but the commemoration of its dedication was moved to Nov. 18 to coincide with that of St. Peter.

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