The Pope made his brief visit at 6 p.m., the Vatican press office reported, stopping for a moment of private recollection, which has become a custom in commemoration of the faithful departed. Today the universal Church celebrates All Souls’ Day.
According to the Vatican communiqué, the Holy Father prayed “for the eternal rest of the pontiffs buried there and for all the deceased.”
Several popes are buried beneath St. Peter’s, including Benedict XV, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, and of course, St. Peter.
Pope John Paul II’s tomb is one of the most visited. His remains rest where Blessed Pope John XXIII was buried for 30 years. Shortly after his beatification, John XXIII’s remains were moved to St. Jerome’s altar to enable a greater number of faithful to visit it.
Archeologists identify the site of the Apostle St. Peter’s tomb as under the basilica’s main altar.
Not all popes are laid to rest in the Vatican Grotto. Pope Leo XIII, for example, who died in 1903, requested that he be buried in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.