This sounds like something out of a novel I’ve on and off worked on for years.
Bones attributed to St Peter found by chance in 1,000-year-old church in Rome
ones attributed to St. Peter have been found by chance in a church in Rome during routine restoration work, 2,000 years after the apostle’s death.
The relics of the saint, who is regarded as the first Pope, were found in clay pots in the 1,000-year-old Church of Santa Maria in Cappella in the district of Trastevere, a medieval warren of cobbled lanes on the banks of the Tiber River.
The bones were discovered when a worker lifted up a large marble slab near the medieval altar of the church, which has been closed to the public for 35 years because of structural problems.
He came across two Roman-era pots with inscriptions on their lids indicating that inside were not only bone fragments from St Peter but also three early popes – Cornelius, Callixtus and Felix – as well as four early Christian martyrs.
The workman immediately notified the deacon of the church, Massimiliano Floridi. “There were two clay pots which were inscribed with the names of early popes – Peter, Felix, Callixtus and Cornelius. I’m not an archaeologist but I understood immediately that they were very old,” he told Rai Uno, an Italian television channel. “Looking at them, I felt very emotional.”
It had been known for centuries that the relics might exist – they are recorded on a stone inscription in the church, which claimed they were kept alongside a fragment of a dress worn by the Blessed Virgin. But until now, the relics had never been found.
The remains have been handed to the Vatican for further study. Without proper analysis, it is impossible to say whether they belong to St Peter. “We’re waiting for a detailed study to be undertaken,” said the deacon. “A DNA comparison between these bones and those kept by the Vatican would shed light on the issue.”
A Vatican spokesman said it was too early to comment on the discovery.
It is not yet known how or why the relics came to be interred in the Church of Santa Maria in Cappella, which was consecrated in 1090.
One theory is that they were transferred there from the Vatican by Pope Urban II at a time of schism within the Catholic Church.
While Urban was generally recognised as the legitimate pope, he faced a challenge from an anti-pope, Clement III, who had set up a rival power base in Rome, backed by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV. The church in Trastevere was closely linked to Pope Urban and may have been seen by him as a secure place in which to hide the bones.
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