Holy Bones

Here is my latest article for Aleteia on the relics of St Peter which were presented to the world for veneration last weekend.

 What about the relics of St. Peter that were displayed this weekend? The story of their discovery is a fascinating piece of detective work. We know that the great Basilica of St. Peter stands on what was once the side of the Vatican Hill. In the first century, that hill was the location of a cemetery. In the mid-fourth century, the Emperor Constantine commanded his engineers to carve away part of the hill and dump the infill to create a level platform on which to build a church. Constantine went to all that trouble so that his church might be centered on a particular tomb in the Vatican Hill cemetery. For three centuries, that tomb had been honored by Roman Christians as the tomb of St Peter.

Several centuries later, when archeologists began digging beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1940s, they discovered the cemetery; therein, just below the high altar, they discovered a second century monument that was built over a pauper’s grave from the first century. Within it, they found some bones wrapped in a purple silk cloth.

Go here to read the whole article.