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Saint Peter came to Rome in the time of Emperor Claudius (42) and died there as a martyr on June 29, 67, together with Saint Paul, after having reigned for 25 years, 1 month and 9 days. Since the year 64, the famous emperor Nero had been constantly persecuting the Christians, and when he wanted to have Peter arrested, the faithful begged the apostle to leave the capital. Basing himself on the words of the Savior: «When they persecute you in one city, flee to another,» Saint Peter left Rome under the cover of darkness. As he walked along the Appian Way, Jesus Christ, according to the testimony of Saint Ambrose, appeared to him carrying the cross. Astonished, Peter asked Him: «Where are You going, Lord? (In this place there is now a chapel where one reads ‘Quo vadis, Domine?’) The Master answered, «I am going to Rome to be crucified a second time,» and then He disappeared. Peter understood that Jesus Christ had foretold his death on the cross and returned to the city. He was soon arrested, put in chains and thrown into the Mamertine prison. It still exists today at the foot of the Capitol: built underground with huge stones, it is gloomy, dark and damp. Above this prison there is a church called San Pietro in carcere (Saint Peter in prison). After a detention of 8 months, Saint Peter was sentenced to death. First he was scourged, then he was taken, together with Saint Paul, to the place of execution. On the way, Saint Paul was separated from him near the place where the «Chapel of Farewell» is located today, and taken one league away (ad aquas salvias) to the Salvian waters, where he was tied to a marble column preserved to this day, and then decapitated. Before he died, he cried out, «Lord Jesus, I commit my soul into Your hands.» (It was on this site, where there are three springs, that the church known as the Three Fountains was built.) While Saint Paul was being led to the ordeal, Saint Peter was taken to the Janiculum, from where the whole city can be seen, and he was crucified on that height. He asked to be crucified upside down, judging himself unworthy to die like his Master (the church of Saint Peter on the hill, built by Constantine, is now located there). Saint Peter’s body was buried by the Christians on the Vatican hill, where a chapel was soon built, which Constantine replaced with a basilica. When it fell into ruin in the Middle Ages, it was demolished by the popes of the Renaissance and in its place rose, after a hundred years of work, the gigantic dome of Saint Peter, completed in 1626. Here lies the body of the Prince of the Apostles and in front of the altar of the crypt more than a hundred lamps have burned day and night for many centuries.
The greatest glory in this world is to be treated like Jesus Christ Himself. He gave His life for love of us; let us generously give Him ours to prove our love.
Sign of the Cross
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and of the Mother of God. Amen.
O Jesus! We are going to walk with You on the road to Calvary which was so painful for You. Make us understand the greatness of Your sufferings, touch our hearts with tender compassion at the sight of Your torments, in order to increase in us the regret of our faults and the love we wish to have for You.
Deign to apply to all of us the infinite merits of Your Passion, and in memory of Your sorrows, show mercy to the souls in Purgatory, especially to those who are most abandoned.
O Divine Mary, who first taught us to make the Way of the Cross, obtain for us the grace to follow Jesus with the sentiments Your Heart was filled with as You accompanied Him on the road to Calvary. Grant that we may weep with You, and that we may love Your divine Son as You do. We ask this in the name of His adorable Heart. Amen.
My Jesus, forgiveness and mercy!
By the merits of Thy holy Wounds and the sorrows of Thy Mother.