Summer reading suggestion: The Bones of St. Peter-The First Full Account of the Search for the Apostle’s Body


A reviewer at Amazon writes:

5.0 out of 5 stars A most exciting find for lovers of Christianity, April 23, 2008
I have taken a “Scavi” (excavation) tour of the necropolis under Saint Peter’s basilica. Relatively few tourists are afforded this pleasure, some might say “grace,” but it is one of the most staggering experiences of my life, and was over much too quickly. To tread the very soil that was Vatican Hill 2000 years ago was a privilege and awe-inspiring.

But once the tour is over, the doubts begin to arise. Just what did I see? How do we know that this is Saint Peter’s very tomb? Walsh’s book answers many of these questions, and more. Through the book, you will learn the history of the internment of Saint Peter, or at least what can be gleaned from the evidence. From a poorly-marked 1st-century criminal’s grave to a 2nd-century “trophy” or victory marker, to a more ornate altar structure once Christianity was legalized, the location of Saint Peter’s purported Have been tracked with some care since his martyr’s death circa 64 AD. The first basilica, raised in the 4th century over the site, filled in the Roman necropolis where he lay, sealing off the site for centuries. By the time this crumbling structure was razed and the current St. Peter’s was built in the 16th century, the existence of St. Peter’s tomb seemed little more than a legend. Walsh details the refinding of the necropolis in the late 1930s, and the digging that eventually uncovered the tomb and St. Peter’s remains. Walsh is at his most fascinating when describing the attempts of Professor Margherita Guarducci to decipher the graffiti scratched into a wall near the tomb. By carefully noting how certain letters ere written, written over, and connected with lines, she could unravel the accumulated messages left by pilgrims of the first centuries of the Christian Church. She identified several occurrences of graffiti in which the letter P was drawn with an E emerging from its upright — representing both the first letters of Peter (Latin, “Petrus”) and also resembling the key to the kingdom entrusted to him by the Lord.

A fascinating and informative look at a little known, very important and under-appreciated historical and religious site.

Buy it at Amazon, or click here to read it on line for free

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