Altar in the Vatican, during Christmas Mass. 80 feet below are the remains of Saint Peter.
Basilica of St. Peter from 331 until 17th century A.D. It was destroyed by a fire.
G is the representation of the foundation of the 4th century Church, the rest is beneath the foundation - as it would have appeared in the 4th century.
Overview of Peter's area. The undisturbed 4th century shrine for Paul's remains, built by Constantine.
Several excavated streets under the Vatican. Surrounded by tombs of the 2nd and 3rd century.
Peter's grave is 80 feet down, it took 10 years of amazing discoveries before they reached the Peter's area; most bodies clearly identified by name, art, poetry, mosaics, statuary. Pius knew they had rediscovered Peter's bones in the 2nd century grave, surrounded by the 4th century shrine built by Constantine.
Peter's bones were kept in a box. His bones were different than the others because they contained one man, wrapped in remains of purple cloth with gold thread, a tile saying "Peter is here" in Greek, was found in the box.
How the 4th century shrine appeared in 1949
c. 1966 the remains of Peter's house in Capernaum, Israel. Similar graffiti as Paul's tomb.
The slab that kept out moisture, thieves. Slab (a rock) helping to preserve Peter's body when the others around him were already dust.
The red wall with graffiti saying this is Peter, follower of Jesus Christ. Identical art found to Peter's home in Capernaum.
Original 2nd century tomb the 4th century tomb surrounded.
The discovered bones were found in the repository wall and later returned.
Darker bones are the remaining bones of Peter.
Photos of Peter's bones.
Peter's tomb today, located under the altar in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy.
So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour [4 p.m.]. 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” [which means Peter, Cephas and Peter are from the word for rock in Aramaic and Greek, respectively.]
What does a relatively large house in ancient Capernaum have in common with the Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano? They are both the homes of Peter, who loved and followed Jesus Christ. Both the house in Capernaum and the 2nd century grave site have the same graffiti proclaiming this is Peter, follower of Jesus. Where is the 2nd century grave located? Beneath the Altar of the Vatican.
Peter knew his death was going to be crucifixion, Jesus told him.John 21:17-19
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Jesus knew where Peter would be buried, he took Peter to Caesarea to give him the prophesy:
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Peter's final resting place was rediscovered in the 1939 dig; began when Pope Pius XI died and there wasn't a good place to bury him. The workmen of Pope Pius XII discovered it wasn't going to just be pagan people underneath the floors of the Basilica. After 10 years of amazing discoveries, most bodies clearly identified by name, art, poetry, mosaics, statuary, Pius knew they had probably rediscover Peter's bones in the 2nd century grave surrounded by the 4th century shrine built by Constantine. Pius decided they would wait until the evidence looked completely irrefutable, they waited until December 23, 1950, when Pius told the world.
By 1964, conclusions the scientists decided were:
- An"elderly man" between sixty and seventy years, about five feet seven inches tall, of heavy build, a man of robust constitution. Missing the feet bones. The bones had lain - and for a considerable period of time - in a bare earth grave. (Peter had been martyred, buried as a criminal). All these bones, it appeared, at some time after dissolution of the flesh, had been taken from the earth and wrapped in a purplish, gold-threaded cloth. Enclosed was a plaque /tile with two Greek words "Petros Eni." Peter is here.
- Many, many of the tombs had bodies that had already turned to dust, the bones of Peter were amazing in their completion. There was even water in the area, which had been a problem to the Basilica for centuries. A single, huge outcropping of rock had preserved the carefully cared for remains.
- Sumptuous marble housing erected by Constantine, in the 4th century, over the 2nd century tomb, was intended to preserve forever both the true original grave of Peter's remains. It has never been tampered or violated.
- Soil adhering to the bones in the repository proved they had originally been interred in the earth. Chemical analysis proved that this soil exactly matched the soil in the original grave under the monument.
- The bones, where as others in the vicinity contained a lot of different types of bones thrown together, these were the carefully preserved bones of one man, missing the feet. In the repository, they had been wrapped in cloth of royal purple, an indication of the unusually high dignity accorded. Threads of gold in the cloth reinforced this impression, since the combination of purple and gold was a fact well attested from antiquity as indicating imperial honors. The robe was older than 4th century.
- An inscription within the repository, in Greek, declared "Peter is buried in here." Other inscriptions on the outside the repository, in Latin invoked his name in prayer.
- 2nd century Graffiti on the tomb's red wall was very similar to the graffiti in Peter's Capernaum house.
- Pope Damasus, in the fourth century, seriously encountered the problem of cemetery vandalism growing out of religious bigotry, it was a violent age. The repository in the sturdy little wall guarded against intrusions by permanently enclosing the precious remains on all sides.
One of the main scientists working on the archaeological dig:
THE TOMB OF ST. PETER
by Margherita Guarducci
© 1960, Hawthorn Books
The Bones of St. Peter. The First Full Account of the Search for the Apostle's Body by John Evangelist Walsh. © 1982. http://saintpetersbasilica.org/Necropolis/JW/TheBonesofStPeter-1.htm
It's interesting to see Peter's house (photograph above) is just the remains of a house. The Church - the Bride of Jesus Christ has amazing depth and splendor.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
So many amazing archaeological discoveries in the last 100 years. To name just a few: Dead Sea Scrolls, Lazarus' tomb in Spain, the entire Hittite Nation, the cities of Nineveh, Ur, Sodom and Gomorrah. Tile piece in Goliath's hometown with his name and David's name. The walls of Jericho. The walls of Babylon. The Capernaum Synagogue with Zebedee's name (father of disciples James and John) on a pillar. Written record of King David. King David's Palace found by description in the Bible for location. Many steeles ( antiquity plaques) found to confirm biblical fact written by other nations. Many, many artifacts in the Museum of Israel.
Blessed are You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.