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Bones of Peter?

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As we see with the ‘shroud of Turin’, Roman Catholics are ever ready to support their fanciful claims with stories, relics and supposed historical items. Now, we are told that the bones of Peter have been found. “It’s arguably one of the most significant discoveries in the history of the world, accomplished by an improbable collection of characters through a complex series of improbable developments.”

( ) . Improbable? For sure!

Those who say the bones have been found say it is “a scientifically verified find that was authenticated only recently under the leadership of Popes Benedict and Francis.” Well, it must be true if popes say so! May I throw a spanner in the works and ask how on earth ‘science’ can verify the bones belonged to Peter? To be ‘proved’ there must be an irrefutable link between the bones, Peter, witnesses, and physical evidences. This is impossible, yet a new book heralds the ‘find’ (‘The Fisherman’s Tomb’, by John O’Neill) after a 75 year search.

The finding’s interpretation depends on its foundation: “According to church tradition, Peter, one of the three disciples closest to Jesus, was executed in Rome and chose to be crucified upside down, because he thought himself unworthy to suffer precisely as Jesus did. But, until Guarducci’s find, there was scant evidence the great apostle had even been in Rome.” As I constantly advise, there is a vast difference between ‘evidence’and ‘proof’. So, ‘scant evidence’ Peter was ever in Rome should read ‘There is no evidence’. (See my article on the Seat of Peter). Nor is there any proof Peter was hung upside down. So, the new book has little to commend it, unless you like a good yarn! The Telegraph appears to think so, too (  .

In its article it says the bones have been “attributed to St Peter”… but this is not the same as “proven beyond doubt they belong to Peter”. The bone fragments were found in clay pots in an old Catholic church (built 1000 years ago), Santa Maria in Cappella, on the banks of the River Tiber. And here the claims begin to look ultra-suspicious: the pots also contained the bones of three early popes plus four martyrs. The inscriptions on the lids say the bones belonged to these people – but, again, in terms of science, it is impossible to verify such a claim. One only has to remember that many Catholic churches claimed to have relics of famed spiritual leaders and ‘saints’, so as to bring in visitors (and their cash), or to gain kudos. Note in the testimony of the church’s deacon, Massimiliano Floridi, that he referred to “the names of early popes – Peter, Felix, Callixtus and Cornelius.” And that makes the claim dead in the water! Peter was never proved to be in Rome at ANY time, and he certainly was not a pope. Indeed, it would have negated his role and office.

The same church had an inscription saying the relics were there, along with a fragment of the dress worn by “the blessed Virgin” Mary! (How convenient). As cynics of Rome have said – there are enough splinters of the Cross to fill several football pitches. Same cynicism goes for ANY relic. Even so, all one has to do is find an inscription that SAYS the relics are there and that they ARE bits of saints, etc. Such is the expectation of zealots, once the relics are found they will be accepted as genuine, even though there is no possible way to verify their genuineness.

Attach to this more fantasy stories and the claims are complete… Conventional wisdom has it that St Peter was crucified, upside down, in Rome in the first century AD. His remains were interred in a tomb on the Vatican Hill, where the Emperor Constantine later built a church, which in the 16th century was replaced by the current imposing basilica. During excavations under St Peter’s Basilica that began after the Second World War, archaeologists discovered a funerary monument with a casket built in honour of Peter and an engraving in Greek that read "Petros eni", or "Peter is here". However, SAYING something is there does not necessarily validate claims. Just note the terms used: “conventional wisdom” (another way to put this is ‘we guess this is true’). There is no way to prove Peter was hung upside down, or that his body was put into a tomb on Vatican Hill, or that the fragments of bone found after WW2 were the same bones first buried a thousand years before.

Scientists were only able to say the bones were of a man in his sixties who lived in the first century (though even this could be challenged). This led pope Paul VI to declare the bones to be those of Peter, in 1968.

Forbes merely says the bones are “considered by some” to belong to Peter, and this is a better thing to admit.

( A note of caution is added by Forbes: “But how sure can we be that these are references to these early Christians and not to later people who took the same name?” Exactly! As the Cadbury Professor of Theology, Candida Moss, University of Birmingham, says, there are “numerous skulls of John the Baptist… and… multiple relic locations for Peter… this is an open secret in the Catholic church”.

Other problems are cited, such as the relics being found in a 11th century church… and “this should cause us concern”. I feel no such concern because Rome is very good at hyping its relics, the source of which can never be proved. The professor adds that the bones will be subjected to future scientific analysis, but “none of those techniques will reveal if the person was indeed St. Peter.” Well said! My point in writing this paper is simply to remind weaker Christians that Rome is a satanic deception – do not believe any of its stories.

© May 2018

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