Pope Francis Displays Peter’s Bones at Closing Mass of the Year of Faith


Pope Francis displayed St Peter’s bones at the closing mass of the Year of Faith.

These pitiful shards of bone are all that’s left of the earthly body of St Peter. But the Church which Christ built on his efforts is vast and growing.

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  • pagansister

    Just an honest question—how does anyone really know that the shards of bone are actually those of Peter?

    • AnneG

      It is actually a pretty interesting story. From independent reports,the Romans and Christians in the first century agreed on where St Peter was killed and where he was buried, on Vatican Hill. The Christians, traditionally, celebrated at the necropolis, anniversaries such as the commemoration of his death with picnic meals at the spot while the Romans avoided such locations. The sarcophagus has 3 chambers. In the ’30’s and 40′s there was an archaeological study of the remains in the tomb which had been known. It was inscribed in Latin, “Here Lies Peter.” Inside were found some animal bones. But there was another chamber with bones, but unmarked. One of the investigators noticed that under the inscription was a line like an arrow indicating the chamber on the side. Those remains are consistent with tradition. There is a book about it called “The Bones of St Peter.”

    • FW Ken

      It’s worth noting that as soon as they could, Christians built a church at the spot, placing the main altar directly above the tomb they considered Peter’s. That church stood for a thousand years and was replaced by the current St. Peter’s Basilica, again, with the altar directly over the tomb. It doesn’t “prove” anything, but it does bear witness.

      • pagansister

        Would someone in the scientific world have done a “dating” technique on them to judge age? One reads that there were those folks over thousands of years that “sold” relics claiming they were those of various religious men and women, as well as those that claimed to have pieces of the cross that Jesus was crucified on. Guess it is known where Peter was crucified, so a church could be built on that location. Since I assume there is no verification that they are or aren’t his bones, one can assume they are. :-)

        • FW Ken

          That would be reasonable. I’ve never heard of trafficking in Petrine bones, however, as there have been in others. In fact, the tomb had not been terribly accessible over time, if you think about.

          I seem to remember something about age testing the bones, but not for sure.

  • FW Ken

    I asked a monk once why exhumation is part of the canonization process. He told me that we need the relics. That seemed odd, but later I had a chance to venerate a first class relic of St. Benedict and another time, the Little Flower made a visit here; the whole casket. Both were deep occasions for me.

  • James E-Chip Stone

    What a great way to close the Year of Faith!

    I once had a strong epiphany of faith at the tomb of St Peter, which I could not even begin to summarize. But I can say this: ever since, the Creed is always a powerful and meaningful prayer for me. This gesture from the Pope means a lot to me, personally.

    Thanks for your post, Rebecca.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    That was a very moving sermon, and found the relics fascinating. I don’t care for traveling much any more, but i would love to go to Rome for an extended period of time.