One of the central parts of In the MIssion deals with the overlapping tradition of betrayal that started the Christian Church. On one side, Judas gave away Jesus to the Temple; this tradition, while historically accurate, has created the false impression that Judas actually betrayed Jesus, where he simply seems to have fulfilled the instructions given to him.
On the other hand, we have absolutely no knowledge of the details of Peter and Paul’s death in Rome. We do not even know for sure when Peter made it to Rome, and we are pretty certain that he was not involved in the creation of the Church there. The sources refute that he was the first bishop there (a position that was filled by Linus, on creation by Paul). The legends are multiple and manifold. But they form no coherent story.
The place of martyrdom of both Peter and Paul is also not known with certainty. As In the MIssion explains, that’s mostly because pretty much everybody that would have cared about those places died in Nero’s persecution. Apparently, knowledge of the burial was more widespread, which indicates that surviving Christians must have fled the city during the persecution and come back soon after, allowing for a burial.
Peter, tradition states, was crucified upside down and buried near his place of martyrdom. Paul, on the other hand, was beheaded and buried on the way to Ostia. Both locations are easy to spot, for they are under the altar of two of the most prestigious churches in Christendom: the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican, and Saint Paul Outside the Walls.
We’ll leave Saint Paul for another article. His beheading must have been quite the spectacle, considering that the three places where his head hit the ground are now reputed to be three springs (tre fontane) some distance apart.