There is a tradition identifying the first church in the city of Rome at which Saint Peter ministered as a “house church.”
The Apostle Paul wrote to Saint Timothy saying: “Make haste to come before winter. Eubulus and Pudens and Linus and Claudia and all the brethren, salute thee” (2 Tim 4:21).
In this final epistle of Saint Paul before his martyrdom, the Apostle includes the names of those prominent in the Roman Church—Linus being one of them. Linus was the second Pope, directly following Saint Peter.
That home became known as the ecclesia pudentiana—the Pudentian Church, the oldest Catholic church in Rome. From the time of Saint Peter until the conversion of Constantine in A.D. 313, this location was the home and headquarters of the Popes. Eventually, the wooden altar of Saint Peter was removed from the Church of Saint Pudentiana and placed within the high altar at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome.
Old Saint Peter’s Basilica, first basilica of St. Peter’s in Rome, a five-aisled basilican-plan church with apsed transept at the west end that was begun between 326 and 333 at the order of the Roman emperor Constantine and finished about 30 years later.
St. Peter’s Basilica, the present basilica of St. Peter in Vatican City (an enclave in Rome), was started by Pope Julius II in 1506 and completed in 1615 under Paul V. It is designed as a three-aisled Latin cross with a dome at the crossing, directly above the high altar, which covers the shrine of St. Peter the Apostle. The edifice—the church of the popes—is a major pilgrimage site.