Thither came the Emperor Constantine the Great upon the eighth day after his Baptism, and, taking off his crown, cast himself down upon the ground, and wept abundantly. Then presently he took a spade and pick-axe, and began to break up the earth, whereof he carried away twelve baskets-full in honour of the twelve Apostles, and built a Church upon that spot, appointed for the Cathedral Church of the Prince of the Apostles. This Church was hallowed by holy Pope Sylvester upon the 18th day of November, in like manner as he had hallowed the Church of the Lateran upon the 9th day of the same month. In this Church did the Pope set up an altar of stone, and pour ointment thereon, and ordain that from thenceforth no altars should be set up, save of stone. The same Emperor Constantine likewise built a very stately Church upon the road to Ostia, in honour of the holy Apostle Paul, which Church also was hallowed by the blessed Sylvester. These Churches the Emperor enriched by grants of much land, and adorned with exceedingly rich gifts.
The Basilica of St. Peter upon the Vatican fell in course of times to ruins, and having been rebuilt from the foundations, enlarged and garnished, by the zeal of many Popes, was solemnly consecrated anew by Urban VIII, upon the same day, in the year 1626. The Basilica of St. Paul upon the road to Ostia was almost entirely consumed by fire in the year 1823, but was rebuilt in a more splendid form, and, as it were, raised from the dead, by the unwearied zeal of four successive Popes. In the year 1854 Pius IX seized the happy occasion when the doctrine concerning the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, which he had just set forth, had drawn together to Rome a great multitude of Cardinals and Bishops from all quarters of the Catholic world, solemnly to dedicate this new Church in their presence upon the 10th day of December in the year aforesaid; but he decreed that the yearly Feast in honour of that dedication should be kept upon this day, being the same as that of the Dedication of the Church of St. Peter.