Rome has always been a place of great importance in Christian history for both good and bad reasons. Rome was the site of the executions of both Peter and Paul, arguably the two most important figures in early Christianity after Jesus’ death. The city was also the source of much of the persecution of early Christians, some of the worst which was suffered under Emperor Nero in the middle of the first century.
Rome was also, however, the site of one of Christianity’s most unexpected victories: the conversion of Constantine the Great at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge. Accounts differ slightly, but prior to the battle, Constantine received either a vision or dream that featured the sign of the cross. He saw it as a sign and made a vow that if he won the battle, he would convert to Christianity. Constantine won, and when he became emperor, he converted to Christianity and brought the fledgling religion out of the shadows.
Modern Rome is also the location of Vatican City. This tiny nation within Rome is the home of the leader of Roman Catholicism, the Pope, and the location of St. Peter’s Basilica, the site most commonly identified with the burial place of St. Peter. The location of Peter’s death in the Circus of Nero is also located in Rome, and a sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of St. Paul
was discovered under the Via Ostiensis in Rome.