SEARCH FOR THE TWELVE APOSTLES
by McBirnie Ph.D.
All ABOUT PETER - part two
DID ST.PETER EVANGELIZE THE AREA TO THE NORTH OF ROME?
WAS HE IN BRITAIN?
In his exhaustive but not generally accepted study of early
Christianity, George F.Jowett outlines the various speculations
and traditions about the Apostle Peter. In his book the "Drama of
the Lost Disciples" he creates a scenario based upon various
apocryphal and doubtful sources:
(Actually Jowett's book [which I have] is extremely good, and
more to the truth of the matter than most "Catholic" and
"Protestant" theologians want to admit. The truth of many things
are buried beneath the falsehoods of the Roman Catholic Babylon
Mystery Religion and her "protestant" daughters - Keith Hunt)
"Peter fled direct to Britain. This is affirmed by Cornelius in
Lapide in his work 'Argumentum Epistolae St.Pauli ad Romanos', in
which he answers the question as to why St.Paul does not salute
St.Peter in his Epistle to the Romans. He replies: 'Peter,
banished with the rest of the Jews from Rome, by the edict of
Claudius, was absent in Britain.'
Peter, acting as a free-lance missionary, stemming from Avalon,
preached in Britain during the Caradoc/Claudian war. While in
Britain he became well acquainted with the members of the two
branches of the Royal Silurian House of Arviragus and Caractacus.
He knew the children of Caractacus years before they went into
Roman captivity. Years after, when the British family became well
established in Rome, he was naturally attracted to the home of
the Pudens at the Palatium Britannicum. The visits of both Peter
and Paul, with the family of the Pudens, is referred to in
Scripture. Other ancient records state that the children of
Claudia and Rufus Pudens were raised at the knees of Peter and
Paul and other disciples, particularly naming St.Paul, for
reasons stated in a former chapter.
There is plenty of evidence to show that Peter visited Britain
and Gaul several times during his lifetime, his last visit to
Britain taking place shortly before his final arrest and
crucifixion in Nerds circus at Rome.
In Gaul, Peter became the Patron Saint of Chartres, by reason of
his preference to preach in the famous Druidic rock temple known
as 'The Grotte des Druides.' This is considered to be the oldest
Druidic site in Gaul, on which is built the oldest cathedral in
Of his visits in Britain we have the corroboration of Eusebius
Pamphilis, A.D.308, whom Simon Metaphrastes quotes as saying:
'St.Peter to have been in Britain as well as in Rome.'
Further proof of Peter's sojourn in Britain was brought to the
light of day in recent times when an ancient, time-worn monument
was excavated at Whithorn. It is a rough hewn stone standing 4
feet high by 15 inches wide. On the face of this tablet is an
inscription that reads: 'Locus Sancti Petri Apvstoli' (The Place
of St.Peter the Apostle).
The eminent Dean Stanley, writing in his works of the beloved
Apostle, claims that the vision that came to St.Peter, foretold
his doom: 'Knowing that shortly I must put off this my
tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hast chewed me (2 Peter
1:14), appeared to St.Peter on his last visit to Britain, on the
very spot where once stood the old British church of Lambedr (St.
Peter's), where stands the present Abbey of St.Peter,
Westminster. Shortly afterwards Peter returned to Rome, where he
was later executed.
The first church dedicated to Peter was founded by King Lucius,
the British King, who was the first by royal decree to proclaim
Christianity the national faith of Britain in Winchester A.D.
The church was erected A.D.179, to the affectionate memory of St.
Peter, in commemoration of his evangelizing labours in Britain.
It is still known as 'St.Peter's of Cornhill' and bears the
legend on its ageworn walls relating the historic fact and dates
by the order of King Lucius, the descendant of Arviragus,
preserved to this day for all to see and read" (p.174,175).
Jowett may be suspected of placing too much reliance on late
or doubtful documentation, but there are some who agree with him,
notably J.W.Taylor who observes:
"Two other traditions of first-century Christian missions, but
belonging to a slightly later period, demand some attention as
also bearing on Western Christianity.
The first is the tradition of 'St.Maternus', and is connected
with all the old country of the Treviri and Tungri beyond the
Here, and especially at Trier (or Treves), the Romans had formed
important colonies some fifty years before the coming of Christ;
and although, as in Britain, there were frequent uprisings
against the power of Rome, the Romans maintained their supremacy
for two hundred years or more.
Nowhere so far north are the Roman remains and ruins so rich, so
fine, and so remarkable as they are in Treves today.
And the first Christian mission to Treves is represented as
partly Roman and partly Hebrew, as coming direct from Rome by the
authority of St.Peter, and in the course or channel of Roman
In some of these points it differs entirely from those we have
been considering. The tradition also has other points of very
considerable interest. It runs as follows:
Three Saints-Eucharius, Valerius and Maternusall of whom had been
pupils of St.Peter at Rome, were sent by him to Trier to preach
the gospel of Christ.
Eucharius was appointed as bishop, and Valerius and Maternus as
his assistants. Maternus was of Hebrew birth, and came from the
little town of Nain in Palestine, being 'the only son of his
mother', whom Christ had raised from the dead. But no special
honour was at this time accorded him. He was the least of the
three missionary disciples, one of the 'personal witnesses' who,
as long as they lived, accompanied the other evangelists in most
of their distant journeys.
But though ready to take the lowest place among his Greek and
Roman companions, Maternus appears to have been most active in
his apostolic labours. For while all three-Eucharius, Valerius
and Maternus - are associated with the foundation of the church
at Trier and Cologne (the scene of their chief labours at Trier
being a little outside the present city, on the site of the old
St.Matthiaskirche), Maternus alone is represented as pushing
forward and reaching the farthest settlement of Tongres, where he
is said to have built a little church which he dedicated to the
Blessed Virgin - the first church beyond the Alps dedicated to
her name and memory ('Ecclesia Tungrensis prima cis Alpes beatae
Mariae Virgini consecrata')." ("The Coming of the Saints," J.W.
One could wish that Taylor was on firmer and more widely
confirmed historical ground. But there certainly is no reason why
Peter could not have visited Great Britain. Many believe he did.
Like most other Christians in the world, the British believers of
the early Middle Ages sought to claim a number of Apostles as
having had some association with their forebears. The more one
studies the early history of Britain, the more possible this
claim appears. Those who have a classical education (that is,
studies in the Latin Classics) often apparently tend to draw most
of their impressions from the War Chronicles of Julius Caesar.
They are perhaps forgetting that "The Gallic Wars" is not only
history but also Caesar's personally slanted political
propaganda. The Britons offered stout and intelligent resistance
to the Roman conquest as Caesar found out to his dismay,
something primitives could not have done.
(You bet the Romans had a tremendously hard time fighting the
Britons. One just has to read the Roman historian "Tacitus" to
discover the Romans had met their match when fighting the
British. Maybe one day I will upload the writings of Tacitus -
Archaeological discoveries in Britain confirm that a viable
civilization had developed there as far back as the time of the
Phoenicians whose traces have been found in England. It is Caesar
who has pictured them as painted savages very much like American
Indians before Columbus. This impression is absolutely wrong!!
Perhaps the civilization of Britain was not as far advanced
as Taylor and Jewett would like to believe. (Oh, yes it was ,
very much so, even obviously more than McBirnie wants to believe
- Keith Hunt). But the use of the wheel and the knowledge of
metallurgy which existed in Britain long before the time of
Caesar (circa 60-40 B.C.) clearly indicates a civilization far in
advance, for example, of that of the Aztecs at the time of the
conquest of Cortez (1519 A.D.) who used neither wheels nor iron.
Considering this relatively advanced civilization it is not
difficult to believe that some of the Apostles visited England.
Did they not believe that theirs was the commission to take the
gospel to the ends o f the earth? Whether they did or not go to
England is not provable, but it is not unlikely or impossible.
(Actually is very provable, that Peter, Paul and others preached
in Britain - Keith Hunt)
ST.PETER AND ROME
The common tradition that St.Peter founded the church at
Rome is unverifiable. Paul could hardly have named so many Roman
Christians in the last chapter of Romans if there had not been
churches there long before any possible visit of St.Peter.
Danielou observes however:
"Was Paul's the only mission to the West? The Acts tell us that
in 43, after the death of James, Peter left Jerusalem 'for
another place' (Acts 12:17). He is lost from sight until 49, when
we find him at the Council of Jerusalem. No canonical text has
anything to say about his missionary activity during this time.
But Eusebius writes that he came to Rome about 44, at the
beginning of Claudius's reign (HE II, 14, 81). It seems certain
that Rome was evangelised during the period from 43 to 49.
Suetonius says that Claudius expelled the Jews in 50,
because they were growing agitated 'at the prompting of
Chrestos.' This shows that discussions between Jews and
Judaeo-Christians were taking place, leading to conflicts which
came to the ear of the emperor. In fact at Corinth in 51 Paul met
some converted Jews driven from Rome by Claudius: Aquila and
Priscilla. In 57 Paul addressed the community of Rome, already
considered important. In 60 he found communities established in
Puteoli and in Rome." ("The Christian Centuries," Jean Danielou,
However, as we have pointed out, St.Peter was probably in
Babylon from A.D.44 to 49 rather than in Rome. We cannot imagine
the silence of the Acts if St.Peter had been in Rome during that
time. In any case this period (A.D.44-49) seems to be the only
time which St.Peter could have been in Babylon, which was located
on the great Roman highway as the next great city to the east of
PETER DIED IN ROME
There is no serious attempt by any reputable modern scholar
to find the presence of Peter in Rome before Paul wrote the Book
of Romans to the band of Christians that had already grown to
some size in that capital city of the first century world. On the
other hand Peter had to die and be buried somewhere and Christian
tradition has been in agreement from the earliest times that it
was actually in Rome that Peter died. No less a Protestant
theologian and historian than Adolph Harnack wrote that, "to deny
the Roman stay of Peter is an error which today is clear to every
scholar who is not blind. The martyr death of Peter at Rome was
once contested by reason of Protestant prejudice." The Protestant
theologian H. Lietzmann, has come to the conclusion that the
testimony from the year 170 concerning the graves of the two
Apostles at Rome must be correct. That is, that the two Apostles
(Peter and Paul) were actually buried in two places in Rome.
Perhaps the latest authoritative word which has been written is
by Oscar Cullmann. In his book, "Peter, Disciple, Apostle,
Martyr," he presents an argument based upon First Clement 5:24,
in which he inferred from this text that the martyrdoms of Peter
and Paul took place in Rome.
RECENT EXCAVATIONS OF ST.PETER'S BASILICA IN ROME
Since the end of the Second World War great interest has
been focused upon the excavations under the church of St.Peter in
Rome. It has now been officially announced by the Pope that the
grave of Peter has been found. Scholars await full publication of
all the results of the excavations before agreeing. Nevertheless,
the general tendency of scholarship today seems to be moving in
the direction of accepting the Roman stay of Peter. It is
possible that Revelation 11:3-13 contains a cryptic account of
the martyrdom of Paul and Peter in Rome. That this passage is
both historic and prophetic is evident. The historical aspect of
it may be a reference to the death of Paul and Peter in Rome,
though this text seems to point primarily to a future
(That text in Revelation 11 has NOTHING to do with Peter or Paul
- it is as McBirnie says, a "prophecy" for the yet future, during
the last 42 months of this age - Keith Hunt)
Near the close of the gospel of John there is a hint given
as to the manner of Peter's death. It agrees with the tradition
which has been long with us that Nero had Peter crucified
head-downward on the Vatican Hill. It says, "As long as you were
young, you girded yourself and went wherever you chose, but when
you have become old, you will stretch out your hands and another
will gird you and carry you where you do not want to go." It is
universally recognized that these words are intended as a
prediction of the martyrdom of Peter for the following verses
tell us that these words speak of the kind of death that Peter
was going to die to glorify Cod. The phrase "stretching out of
the hands" (John 21:18) may indicate the manner of execution,
which is crucifixion.
(Well it may also have just meant you hold out your hands to be
chained up and led away captive, but the traditions do point to
Peter being crucified - Keith Hunt)
Finally, it would be well to note that in the entire scope
of the very earliest Christian literature there is complete
silence concerning the death of Peter. We certainly do not even
have the slightest reference that points to any other place
besides Rome which could be considered as the scene of his death.
And in favor of Rome, there are important traditions that he did
actually die in Rome. In the second and third centuries when
certain churches were in rivalry with those in Rome it never
occurred to a single one of them to contest the claim of Rome
that it was the scene of the martyrdom of Peter.
In The Christian Centuries Danielou shares an allusion to
St.Peter's visit to Rome:
"A certain Paron puts his house (aedes) at the disposal of St.
Peter, as well as its inner garden, which could hold five hundred
persons." (p.166 )
Perhaps we can get a realistic impression about St.Peter's
final days in Rome from Jewett:
"Maliciously condemned, Peter was cast into the horrible, fetid
prison of the Mamertine. There, for nine months, in absolute
darkness, he endured monstrous torture manacled to a post. Never
before or since has there been a dungeon of equal horror.
Historians write of it as being the most fearsome on the brutal
agenda of mankind. Over three thousand years old, it is probably
the oldest torture chamber extant, the oldest remaining monument
of bestiality of ancient Rome, a bleak testimony to its barbaric
inhumanity, steeped in Christian tragedy and the agony of
thousands of its murdered victims. It can be seen to this day,
with the dungeon and the pillar to which Peter was bound in
This dreaded place is known by two names. In classical history it
is referred to as Gemonium or the Tullian Keep. In later secular
history it is best known as the Mamertine. At this time it is not
out of place to pause in our story to describe this awesome pit,
if only to provide us who live so securely today with a slight
reminder of what the soldiers of Christ suffered for our sake, so
we may be quickened the better to appreciate the substance of our
The Mamertine is described as a deep cell cut out of solid rock
at the foot of the capitol, consisting of two chambers, one over
the other. The only entrance is through an aperture in the
ceiling. The lower chamber was the death cell. Light never
entered and it was never cleaned. The awful stench and filth
generated a poison fatal to the inmates of the dungeon, the most
awful ever known. Even as early as 50 B.C. the historian Sallust
describes it in the following words:
'In the prison called the Tullian, there is a place about ten
feet deep. It is surrounded on the sides by walls and is closed
above by a vaulted roof of stone. The appearance of it from the
filth, the darkness and the smell is terrible.'
"No one can realize what its horrors must have been a hundred
years later when Peter was imprisoned in its noisome depths.
"n this vile subterranean rock the famed Jugurtha was starved and
went stark raving mad. Vereingitorix, the valorous Druidic
Gaulish chieftain, was murdered by the order of Julius Caesar.
It is said that the number of Christians that perished within
this diabolic cell is beyond computation - such is the glory of
One can re-read the denouncing words of the noble Queen Boadicea,
with profit. She branded them for what they were. These people of
the Roman purple, who scorned all their enemies as barbarian,
were the greatest and most cruel barbarians of all time.
"How Peter managed to survive those nine long dreadful months is
beyond human imagination. During his entire incarceration he was
manacled in an upright position, chained to the column, unable to
lay down to rest. Yet, his magnificent spirit remained undaunted.
It flamed with the immortal fervour of his noble soul proclaiming
the Glory of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ. History tells us
the amazing fact that in spite of all the suffering Peter was
subjected to, he converted his gaolers, Processus, Martinianus,
and forty-seven others.
It is a strange and curious circumstance that the chair, or
throne of Pius IX, at the Vatican Council, was erected directly
over the altar of Processus and Marinianus. (sic)
Peter, the Rock, as he predicted, met his death at Rome by the
hands of the murderous Romans, who crucified him, according to
their fiendish manner. He refused to die in the same position as
our Lord, declaring he was unworthy. Peter demanded to be
crucified in the reverse position, with his head hanging
downward. Ironically enougb, this wish was gratified by the
taunting Romans in Nero's circus A.D. 67. ("The Drama of the Lost
Disciples," George F.Jowett, p.176).
THE LEGENDS OF ST.PETER AND ST. PAUL
Legends, unlike traditions, have at best only grains of
truth in them and those grains may be impossible to find.
However, there is a persistent legend regarding St.Peter and
Simon the Sorcerer which, at least has its beginnings in the
historical account in the book of Acts where St.Peter denounced
Simon for trying to purchase the Holy Spirit. The legend about
the aftermath is as follows:
"The magician, vanquished by a superior power, flung his books
into the Dead Sea, broke his wand, and fled to Rome, where he
became a great favorite of the Emperor Claudius, and afterwards
of Nero. Peter, bent on counteracting the wicked sorceries of
Simon, followed him to Rome. About two years after his arrival he
was joined there by the Apostle Paul. Simon Magus having asserted
that he was himself a god, and could raise the dead, Peter and
Paul rebuked his impiety, and challenged him to a trial of skill
in the presence of the emperor. The arts of the magician failed;
Peter and Paul restored the youth to life and on many other
occasions Simon was vanquished and put to shame by the miraculous
power of the Apostles. At length he undertook to fly up to heaven
in sight of the emperor and the people; and, crowned with laurel,
and supported by denons, he flung himself from a tower, and
appeared for a while to float thus in the air, but St.Peter,
falling on his knees commanded the denons to let go their hold,
and Simon, precipitated to the ground, was dashed to pieces."
("Sacred and Legendary Art," Anna Jameson, p.209).
The same book records the early church Father's beliefs in
the stories of St.Peter and Simon the Magician:
"There can be no doubt that there existed in the first century a
Simon, a Samaritan, a pretender to divine authority and
supernatural powers; who, for a time, had many followers; who
stood in a certain relation to Christianity; and who may have
held some opinions more or less similar to those entertained by
the most famous heretics of the early ages, the Gnostics.
Irenaeus calls this Simon the father of all heretics. 'All those;
he says, 'who in any way corrupt the truth, or mar the preaching
of the Church, are disciples and successors of Simon, the
Samaritan magician: Simon gave himself forth as a god, and
carried about with him a beautiful woman named Helena, who he
represented as the first conception of his - that is, of the
divine-mind, the symbol or manifestation of that portion of
spirituality which had become entangled in matter." (Ibid., p.
So notable a figure as St.Peter would of course have more
legends created about him than the Simon the Magician story. For
"The Apostle Peter had a daughter born in lawful wedlock, who
accompanied him in his journey from the East. Being at Rome with
him, she fell sick of a grievous infirmity which deprived her of
the use of her limbs. And it happened that as the disciples were
at meat with him in his house, one said to him, 'Master, how is
it that thou, who healest the infirmities of others, dost not
heal thy daughter Petronilla?' And St.Peter answered, 'It is good
for her to remain sick': but, that they might see the power that
was in the word of God, he commanded her to get up and serve them
at table, which she did; and having done so, she lay down again
helpless as before; but many years afterwards, being perfected by
her suffering, and praying fervently, she was healed. Petronilla
was wonderfully fair; and Valerius Flaccus, a young and noble
Roman, who was a heathen, became enamored of her beauty, and
sought her for his wife; and he being very powerful, she feared
to refuse him; she therefore desired him to return in three days,
and promised that he should then carry her home. But she prayed
earnestly to be delivered from this peril; and when Flaccus
returned in three days with great pomp to celebrate the marriage,
he found her dead. The company of nobles who attended him carried
her to the grave, in which they laid her, crowned with roses; and
Flaccus lamented greatly."
The legend places her death in the year 98, that is thirty-four
years after the death of St.Peter; but it would be in vain to
attempt to reconcile the dates and improbabilities of this
story." (Ibid., p.215).
We are on firmer historical ground in the records of the
church Fathers regarding the death of St.Peter himself:
"Thus Nero publicly announcing himself as the chief enemy of God,
was led on in his fury to slaughter the Apostles. Paul is
therefore said to have been be headed at Rome, and Peter to have
been crucified under him. And this account is confirmed by the
fact, that the names of Peter and Paul still remain in the
cemeteries of that city even to this day. But likewise, a certain
ecclesiastical writer, Caius by name, who was born about the time
of Zephyrinus bishop of Rome,. disputing with Proclus the leader
of the Phrygian sect, gives the following statement respecting
the places where the earthly tabernacles of the aforesaid
Apostles are laid. 'But I can show,' says be, 'the trophies of
the Apostles. For if you will go to the Vatican, or to the Ostian
road, you will find the trophies of those who have laid the
foundation of this church. And that both suffered martyrdom about
the same time.'
Dionysins bishop of Corinth bears the following testimony,
in his discourse addressed to the Romans. "Thus, likewise you, by
means of this admonition, have mingled the flourishing seed that
had been planted by Peter and Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both
of these having planted us at Corinth, likewise instructed us;
and having in like manner taught in Italy, they suffered
martyrdom about the same time. This testimony I have superadded,
in order that the truth of the history might be still more
confirmed." ("Ecclesiastical History," Eusebius, p.80).
There is much evidence that St.Peter chose St.Mark as his
secretary or amanuensis.
"Peter's claim to literary fame rests more firmly on his relation
to the Gospel of Mark. Papias of Hierapolis recorded the fact
that 'Mark, the interpreter of Peter, wrote down carefully what
he remembered, both the sayings and the deeds of Christ, but not
in chronological order, for he did not hear the Lord and he did
not accompany him. At a later time, however, be did accompany
Peter, who adapted his instruction to the needs [of his hearers],
but not with the object of making a connected series of
discourses of our Lord. So Mark made no mistake in writing the
individual discourses in the order in which he recalled them.'
"On this authority it is believed that Mark served as translator
for Peter when he preached in Rome. As Peter told and retold his
experiences with Jesus, Mark interpreted them again and again to
Christian groups. This frequent repetition gave Mark an almost
verbatim memory of Peter's recollections. After the death of
Peter, Mark, realizing the value of Peter's first-hand account,
recorded what he remembered so clearly in the document we know as
the first of the Gospel records. Matthew and Luke obviously used
Mark's Gospel in the writing of their lives of Jesus. (Not so,
God can inspire whoever to write however, one fellow copying from
another is human reasoning, and bears no weight - Keith Hunt).
In this manner Peter became the source for our earliest
Gospel and thus to a large extent supplied the material for the
first written record of our Lord. If this reconstruction of
events is accurate, Mark's Gospel can be considered Peter's
personal remembrance of his life with Jesus. As such it remains
one of Peter's greatest contributions to the Christian Church."
("The Twelve Christ Chose," Asbury Smith, p.21,22).
(However Mark came to write his Gospel, the fact remains it was
inspired by God to be written - Keith Hunt)
"Peter was led to the top of the Vatican Mount near the TYBUR and
crucified with his head downwards. His body was embalmed by
Marcellinus the Presbyter after the Jewish manner, then buried in
the Vatican near the Triumphal Way. Over his body a small church
was erected. It was destroyed by Heliogalachis." ("The Lives and
Deaths of the Holy Apostles," Dorman Newman, p.20).
Dorman Newman (1685) apparently had sources unavailable to
us which possibly cast more light on St.Peter's burial:
"His [Peter's] body was removed to the cemetery in the Appian
Way, 2 miles from Rome where it rested obscurely until the Reign
of Constantine [who] rebuilt and enlarged the Vatican to the
honor of St.Peter.
The appearance of St Peter was as follows: His body was slender
of a middle size inclining to tallness. His complexion pail [sic]
and almost white. His beard curled and thick but short. His eyes
black but flecked with red due to frequent weeping. Eye brows
thin or none at all." (Ibid.21).
The Roman history, Augustus to Constantine, (p.188) contains
an interesting insight regarding controversies about the
propriety of the early Christians veneration of Apostolic burial
"The Montanist Proclus argued that the tombs of the four
daughters of Philip, all prophetesses in New Testament times,
were still to be seen at Hierapolis in Asia. Gaius replied that
he could point out the 'trophies' of the Apostles (Peter and
Paul) who founded the Roman church; they were on the Vatican hill
and by the Ostian Way.
This interest in tombs was fairly widespread among Asian
Christians and was certainly present at Rome as early as the
middle of the second century. It did not spring into existence at
that time, for in the New Testament itself we read of the burial
of John the Baptist and of the martyr Stephen. Ignatius of
Antioch expected wild beasts to be his tomb, but this was a
special case. Polycarp of Smyrna was carefully buried, even
though a reference to an annual commemoration in the late second
century may be an interpolation in the story of his martyrdom."
("Augustus to Constantine, The Thrust of the Christian Movement
into the Roman World," Robert M. Grant, p.166 ).
The head of St.Peter is said to be entombed in the Cathedral
of St.John Lateran. The guidebook furnished the pilgrim there
makes the following statement regarding this traditional resting
place, but it gives no explanation of how the head of St.Peter
came to be there
"The central Altar is called the Papal Altar, because only the
Pope can celebrate Mass there. Behind the grille, aloft, in bust
of silver gilt, are preserved the relics of the heads of St.
Peter and St.Paul." ("The Cathedral of the Pope," J.B. de Toth,
MODERN ARCHAEOLOGICAL DISCOVERIES OF ST.PETER'S RELICS
The most recent story concerning the burial of St.Peter was
given in the "National Geographic Magazine" (December, 1971, p.
872). This account, which we quote by permission, provides the
latest Catholic archaeological and ecclesiastical conclusions
regarding the burial place of St.Peter. This report is
interesting not only because of its conclusions, but because it
provides an authoritative description of the steps by which those
conclusions were reached.
"Tradition holds that he was crucified upside down in Nero's
Circus near Vatican Hill. His body was given to his friends, and
he was buried close by.
...When Julius II pulled much of it down and began the church
that is there today, the tomb of St.Peter was lost to view.
Historians thought Peters bones were gone, his tomb sacked long
before by Saracens.
...in 1939, while excavations were being made for Pius XI's tomb,
Pius XII gave orders that the digging was to be extended in a
search for the tomb of St.Peter. This 'village' was one of the
great discoveries. The houses and simpler tombs under them dated
from the first to the third centuries A.D. They proved beyond
doubt that Constantine had built St.Peter's over a cemetery.
But an even more exciting discovery was involved. A Roman
presbyter named Gains, who lived in the second and third
centuries, had seen a grave memorial to St.Peter, and had
mentioned it in a letter, a fragment of which has come down to
us. Right under the papal altar, early in the excavations, a
small ruined monument was found. This could well be the memorial
Gains had seen. At its foot was a slab like a gravestone let into
the ground. The excavator: raised it. They found a grave, but it
was quite empty. Some bones were discovered nearby. For several
years they were believed to be the bones of Peter, but
anthropological study established that they were actually the
bones of more than one person.
INSCRIPTION LEADS TO A STARTLING FIND
"That would have been that, except for one obstinate and learned
woman, Margherita Guarducci. She is a professor at the University
of Rome, and she deciphers ancient inscriptions.
She spent six years studying the scribblings made by Christian
pilgrims on two old walls above the empty grave. One graffito on
the older wall, when deciphered, delivered an electrifying
message: 'Peter is within.' In the other wall was a recess lined
with marble. To her it was clearly an ossuary, a niche for
someone's bones. Had any been found?
The professor got hold of a workman who seemed to remember that
something had been found there years ago, but he thought it was a
piece of wall with a graffito. Undaunted, she searched St.Peter's
storage rooms. There in a box marked for graffiti, she found
The bones, she learned were indeed from the ossuary in the
ancient wall. Ten years before, a monsignor, during his daily
inspection of the excavations had put the bones in a plain wooden
box and deposited it in Storage.
POPE PAUL RESOLVES A SCHOLARLY DISPUTE
"Professor Guarducci had the bones examined by Professor
Venerando Correnti, an anthropologist of the University of Rome,
who, as she puts it, 'entirely bore out what could be expected
for the bones found in the only niche built by Constantine in his
monument to St.Peter.'
It was plain to her what had happened. When Constantine had
erected the first St.Peter's, he had cautiously moved the bones
of the saint from his grave to this biding place, a few feet
away, to protect them from deterioration and grave robbers.
That the bones Professor Guarducci found are those of St Peter,
she has no doubt They are the bones of a man of 60 or 70, and in
a box with them were bits of earth and shreds of purple-and-gold
cloth. The age tallies with Peter's traditional age at the time
of his crucifixion. Tradition says that he was buried in plain
earth. And when Constantine had the bones removed to the niche,
it would have seemed only fitting to have had them wrapped in
precious purple-andgold cloth.
Scholars disputed these conclusions; some still do. But Pope Paul
VI settled the question for the Catholic world. Speaking in St.
Peter's on June 26, 1968, he announced that the bones of the
saint had been found.
Today the bones are back in the niche of the tomb, hidden from
public view." (National Geographic, "St.Peter's" by Aubrey Menen,
Vol.140, No.6, December, 1971, p.872, 873).
It was this writer's privilege to be granted permission late
in November, 1971 to study and photograph the burial place of St.
Peter's bones deep beneath the huge basilica of St Peter's.
Beyond any doubt this huge church building is indeed built
upon a very extensive and well preserved first century A.D. Roman
cemetery, and the photographs reveal the name of Peter clearly
inscribed in ancient Latin in the place where the Apostle's bones
Edgar J. Goodspeed quotes Clement and Eusebius concerning
the last hours of St.Peter's life
"Peter's parting words to his wife as she was being led out to
martyrdom are recorded by Clement of Alexandria in his
'Miscellanies' and repeated by Eusebius in his 'Church History':
'They say that when the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out to
die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and
called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her
by name, and saying:
O thou, remember the Lord!'" ("The Twelve," Edgar J. Goodspeed,
To be continued
The evidenced from many quarters is indeed that Peter did preach
and teach in Rome, but no evidence supports Peter as the founder
of the Christian Church in Rome. He was, as like the apostle
Paul, put to death in Rome. His remains, like those of Paul were
in Rome for a number of centuries. BUT, and there is a large
"but" - just about everyone wants to forget what the historian
BEDE wrote on the matter. I quote from "St.Paul in Britain" by
"Bede was a very earnest adherent of the novel papal Church,
introduced A.D.596, by Augustine into Britain, but the honesty
and simplicity of his character has rendered his history in many
respects a very inconvenient and obnoxious record to the said
Church. What became of the remains of St.Peter and St.Paul? At
Rome they STILL PRETEND TO EXHIBIT THEM, but Bede - and it must
be remembered he is a CANONIZED saint in the Roman calendar -
EXPRESSLY STATES that the remains of the bodies of the apostles
Peter and Paul, the martyrs St.Lawrence, St.John, St.Gregory, and
St.Pancras, were, at the solicitation of King Oswy to Pope
Vitalian, REMOVED from Rome to ENGLAND, and deposited at
CANTERBURY A.D. 656, Pope Vitalian's letter to Oswy being extant.
(Bedoe History., lib. iii. c. 29). THEIR REMAINS, then, if any,
REPOSE IN BRITISH SOIL."
So much for Papal Rome, then when you think what they tried to do
with the "Shroud of Turin" as the burial cloth of Jesus, you
should not be surprised, they would want you to believe the
physical remains of bones of Peter and Paul are in Rome. But now
you have seen the "rest of the story!"
Entered on this Website November 2007