A new development about the Bones of St. Peter!

This sounds like something out of a novel I’ve on and off worked on for years.

Via Telegraph:

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.


Read the rest there.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Definitely a just too cool entry.

  2. Wow! I love my Church! Wow!

  3. Norah says:

    I thought I remember reading that the bones of St Peter had been found under St Peters when Pius XII had some excavations done. The container had other containers facing it and the skeleton had no feet. These facts were supposed to identify the skeleton as St Peter.

  4. anthtan says:

    [gasp] then perhaps the mystery of the missing feet bones has been solved…

  5. Kerry says:

    That these relics come to light just now…coincidence?
    Readers here know the rest.
    (Dr. Peters, me too.)

    [How many coincidences in this 100th anniversary year of the Fatima miracle are we allowed before we have to think that something’s up?]

  6. Deacon Jason says:

    You are correct. In fact, visitors to the Vatican that make arrangements with the Ufficio Scavi (the Vatican Archaeological Office) can take a tour of the dig site and see them. I was able to do about 7 years ago and it is well worth the the planning (and 13 euros!)

    Based in the size of the ossuary under St. Peter’s, it is pretty clear that it isn’t a whole skeleton. In fact, if I recall correctly, not only are the feet missing but also the head (tradition has it the head is in statue of Peter in St. John Lateran, as is Paul’s in his statue).

  7. ce lathrop says:

    More of the “first pope” nonsense. You RCs like to mess with history.

  8. Grant M says:

    No, ce lathrop, we RCs treat Clio right. It’s you anti-RCs who batter her.

  9. Imrahil says:

    Dear ce lanthrop,

    I’m asking because I really don’t know: how would you suggest that we should refer to the fact that St. Peter was commissioned by our Lord to be leader of His Church and have successors in his office, whom we now know as the Popes?

    How should we refer to that if “the first Pope” for St. Peter would not do?

    [Don’t feed the troll.]

  10. pannw says:

    Coincidence? “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”~Albert Einstein

    And I’m with Dr. Peters, if for no other reason than Holy Mother Church can reduce a man of Dr. Peter’s stature to sounding like a child on Christmas morning finding the desire of his dreams under the tree! Of course, there are so many more reasons, and this really is wow worthy.

    Deo gratias!

  11. The Masked Chicken says:

    DNA is not that stable under room temperature conditions and it depends on the chemical environment in which it is stored.

    Cunanan, Wu, J., et al., Stability of Genomic DNA at Various Storage conditions, gives the following:

    -20 to -80 oC = no degradation after 2 years
    4 oC = 12 months
    Room Temp (20 oC) = 6 months
    Room Temp, dry = 3 months

    Since these bones are, almost certainly, desiccated, the odds of getting reliable DNA, especially when the bones are mixed with three other men, is very small.

    The Chicken

  12. Michael says:

    The Masked Chicken –

    I think you are probably right, although the modern ability to replicate DNA from even the smallest samples is really amazing.

    I do wonder, though, whether they can find a correspondence between the bones using something like identical mineral composition.

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