December 5, 2013

Are those really St. Peter’s bones on display at the Vatican?

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A statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The conclave to pick a new pope will begin on Tuesday (March 12) the Vatican said Friday, resolving an open question that had dogged the cardinals meeting here over the past week. RNS photo by David Gibson

A statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The conclave to pick a new pope will begin on Tuesday (March 12) the Vatican said Friday, resolving an open question that had dogged the cardinals meeting here over the past week. RNS photo by David Gibson

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ROME (RNS) Pope Paul VI declared that the relics believed to belong to St. Peter were "identified in a way that we can consider convincing" -- the closest thing to a statement of authenticity the bones ever received from the Vatican.

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  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    A good look at the issue. The only quibble I have is that the identity of one set of relics has nothing to do with the authenticity of another set of relics. So, whether St. Gennaro’s relics are authentic has nothing directly to do with the bones of St. Peter.

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  • Dorothy Palmer

    Robert Geis in his book “Linus or Peter: the Question of Papal Infallibility” has two chapters on the subject of the bones. He has demonstrated that the bones are not Peter’s. His discussion is the most persuasive on this topic I have read. What adds to the credibility of his discussion is that he is a Priest.

  • Nor was Peter the first pope. That’s legend and Catholic dogma, repeated uncritically by the media over and over. But it’s not history.

    I’m not suggesting that the media deny that Peter was the first pope. But labeling sectarian doctrine for what it is would seem to me to only be good journalism.

  • Walter Muzzy

    This is a Usenet post of mine on sci.archaeology that has many links and my take on the grave, tomb and bones.

    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/sci.archaeology/Egmr9DFYE0A

    (OR)

    http://tinyurl.com/petermuzzy5

    Excavation Reports

    http://www.saintpetersbasilica.org/Necropolis/MG/TheTombofStPeter-1.htm

    *IF* Peter was in Rome and it is documented (Tacitus) that Christians were killed in the Circus of Nero with the grave a stones’ throw it is not a stretch that *IF* he was buried there the location would be well known among the Christians.
    It is after all just a pauper’s grave alongside a street.

  • Logomachist

    If Peter wasn’t the first bishop of Rome, who was?

  • Duane Lamers

    Ms Palmer, there is no way that the priest has proven that the bones are not those of Peter. Everything discovered so far, however, proves that the early Christians knew the site to be the grave of Peter. Examination of the bones indicates that they are of an appropriate age and from a timeframe that includes the lifespan of Peter.

    In any event, Catholics do not worship anyone or anything but God, believing that Christ is the incarnation of that God.

  • adventtuth

    Constantine who amalgamated church and state in the 4th century and declared himself Pontifex Maximus, Supreme Pontiff. That’s fact. http://bit.ly/GGT8Sx

  • Palamas

    It’s ridiculous. Whether Peter was the first Pope is a matter for debate. The reality of many popes before Constantine’s time is indisputable except by those who believe in pseudo-history and/or conspiracy theories.

  • Lou

    Only thing O know is that Peter converted the first Romans and eventually, the Vatican was built over his tomb. What a way of Jesus to humble his prosecutors. Ownage!

  • Lou

    That book is pure speculation. No scientific evidence…. At least the Church found a sign signaling “Here lies Peter” in what was to be a fact the place of his crucifixion… Good enough evidence for this faithful!

  • Rush Glick

    Peter wasn’t called “Pope,” but he was the leader (Bishop) of Rome’s growing, persecuted Christian population. I believe that the title of Pope came into being around the year 150. It was, of course, Jesus who made Peter the Rock upon which his Church was to be built. Hard to think that Peter would be anything less than what we now call a Pope.