For example, notice what is called the Niche of the
Pillia above. It is located in what is now the basement area of St.
Peterís Basilica underneath the main or High Altar. Look closely at the
Icon of Jesus Christ and the grill above it. Why is it so lopsided? Or
is it lopsided? And why is the cross to the left upside down? You will
have to read the book to get the answer to this and so many other
Protestants will often claim that the bones found
under St. Peterís were not his, but that of a woman. So, what is the
whole story ?
The Holy Father realized that the validity of the
Catholic faith would not rise or fall with this legend proven either
way. So, prudently he instructed all concerned not to make any assertions
until the excavations had been completed and all the data
had been thoroughly analyzed in a professional way. Contrary to his wishes an
enterprising Italian journalist presumptuously reported that some bones
found near St. Peterís grave were indeed his. And the New York
Times on August 22, 1949 ran a headline on page one stating that Peterís
bones had been found. However, these were not St. Peterís. What had
been found were bones belonging to a woman and two men, neither of whom
were St. Peter. So, some Protestants focus exclusively on this
Actually St. Peterís grave turned out to be empty
of bones except for that of a mouse. And most interestingly that mouse
had a role in confirming the other data which provides an overabundant
proof of the identity of St. Peterís bones. Not wanting to spoil
the story, I will save the details for what will be a joyful experience
in your reading the book.
One of the important details in the proof of
the identity of the bones is the location of Saint Peterís Basilica.
It was built on
the side of a large hill. From an architectural
point of view this is the worst possible place to build such a large building.
The section below from the book gives you a hint as why this location
had to be as it is.
ďThe Ancient Silence
If the critics were right, if
it was not Constantine who had Peterís bones removed from the central
grave, wrapped in purple cloth, and Ö(sorry, this detail is omitted. It
is best read in context of the book. I donít want to ruin the fun of
the one thing is clear: the
transfer must have taken place before the Emperorís dramatic arrival on
the scene. But who, in that case, did order the removal? And when was it
done and for what possible reason? Instinct whispers that the answers to
those tantalizing questions may well provide the key to much that is
still, more than a dozen years after Pope Paulís announcement, at odds
in the history of the relics.
Doubts about the grateful
Emperor having arranged the transfer are not only legitimate, they are
inescapable. The enormous physical effort that was expended in erecting
the original basilica - oriented over one exact spot upon ruggedly
uneven terrain - was necessary precisely because the intended focal
point, the bones, could not be moved. This unarguable fact leaves no
room at all for the claim that, just prior to the start of work on the
basilica, the focal point was moved. Nor has a convincing reply been
made to those critics who instinctively shake their heads in stubborn
Saint Jerome writes the following about St. Peterís
ďSimon Peter, the son of John, from the village of
Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and
himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of
Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion . . . pushed on to Rome in
the second year of Claudius to over-throw Simon Magus, and held the
sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the
fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of
martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and
his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified
in the same manner as his LordĒ (Lives of Illustrious Men 1 A.D.
When St. Peterís bones where found this fact was
further attested to by the fact that although they found bones from
every other part of his body, even some of his finger bones, none of the
bones where found from his feet. This suggests that his feet were
separated from his body. And this would have been the easiest way to
take down a body that was attached to a cross upside down, that is by
chopping off the feet.
Because the author relates the information as it
was chronologically revealed, you will find yourself anxiously awaiting
the newly discovered facts that come with the turning of each page.
You can read the full contents of this book, complete with pictures and
The Bones of St. Peter
John Evangelist Walsh, © 1982, 2011.
Does the church possess the actual bones of St. Peter?
Fr. Saunders responds.
Virtual Tour of the Necropolis including St. Peter's grave at
Video, 2 hour presentation on the building of St. Peter's in Italian
More articles on