Unearthing history beneath St. Peter's Basilica

LIFE examines the history beneath St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. For more photos, click here.

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    Tomb of the Caetennii

    The tomb of the Caetennii (17 x 18 feet) was one of the richest and most lavishly decorated of all those excavated beneath St. Peter's.
    Nat Farbman—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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    Basilico floor

    Workmen examining underneath the floor of Basilico.
    Nat Farbman—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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    Pope Pius' sarcophagus

    Pope Pius XI, whose desire to be buried below St. Peter's nave led to the historic excavations, lies in his stone sarcophagus in renovated upper grottoes.
    Nat Farbman—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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    St. Peter's interior

    The interior of St. Peter's basilica, with markers indicating the location of the excavation beneath the floor, 1950.
    Nat Farbman—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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