Bad News For The Vatican
Peter’s Tomb Recently Discovered In Jerusalem
by F. PAUL PETERSON
with an introduction by
Kenneth Montgomery Keillor
Editor's Note: As far as I know, the author, F. Paul Peterson, is associated with the cult of Seventh Day Adventism, so, in my humble estimation, caution is advised. Having noted that, this article pertinent to the apostle of Christ, Peter, and the claims of Roman Catholicism, I find to be important and credible.
Roman Catholicism possesses incalculable wealth in terms of real estate and art treasures and such, but they have long held that their greatest treasure is the bones of Simon bar Jonah aka Peter, the apostle of Jesus Christ, which are supposedly buried beneath the altar in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. They have claimed that Peter's bones are their 'greatest treasure' based on their argument that when Jesus ascended to Heaven after the resurrection, He left Peter in His place as head of the 'true church', and therefore, supposedly, the first 'Pope'. This is used to further argue that the current Pope holds all of the authority of Jesus Christ on earth and that Roman Catholicism is the 'one true church'. If the assertion that Peter's bones are in St. Peter's Basilica is proven false, Roman Catholicism's entire argument for legitimacy on that basis is gone.
This would logically lead us to the question:
"Who and what is Roman Catholicism and the papacy, really?"
Chapter 1 - Saint Peter's Tomb
The Discovery of Peter's Tomb in Jerusalem
While visiting a friend in Switzerland, I heard of what seemed to me, one of the greatest discoveries since the time of Christ—that Peter was buried in Jerusalem and not in Rome. The source of this rumor, written in Italian, was not clear; it left considerable room for doubt or rather wonder. Rome was the place where I could investigate the matter, and if such proved encouraging, a trip to Jerusalem might be necessary in order to gather valuable first hand information on the subject. I therefore went to Rome. After talking to many priests and investigating various sources of information, I finally was greatly rewarded by learning where I could buy the only known book on the subject, which was also written in Italian. It is called, "Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit", printed in 1958 at the Tipografia del PP. Francescani, in Jerusalem. It was written by P. B. Bagatti and J. T. Milik, both Roman Catholic priests. The story of the discovery was there, but it seemed to be purposely hidden for much was lacking. I consequently determined to go to Jerusalem to see for myself, if possible, that which appeared to be almost unbelievable, especially since it came from priests, who naturally because of the existing tradition that Peter was buried in Rome, would be the last ones to welcome such a discovery or to bring it to the attention of the world.
In Jerusalem I spoke to many Franciscan priests who all read, finally, though reluctantly, that the bones of Simon Bar Jona (St. Peter) were found in Jerusalem, on the Franciscan monastery site called, "Dominus Flevit" (where Jesus was supposed to have wept over Jerusalem), on the Mount of Olives. The pictures show the story. The first show an excavation where the names of Christian Biblical characters were found on the ossuaries (bone boxes). The names of Mary and Martha were found on one box and right next to it was one with the name of Lazarus, their brother. Other names of early Christians were found on other boxes. Of greatest interest, however, was that which was found within twelve feet from the place where the remains of Mary, Martha and Lazarus were found—the remains of St. Peter. They were found in an ossuary, on the outside of which was clearly and beautifully written in Aramaic, "Simon Bar Jona".
The charcoal inscription reads: "Shimon Bar Yonah" which means "Simon [Peter] son of Jonah".
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
I talked to a Yale professor, who is an archaeologist, and was director of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem. He told me that it would be very improbable that a name with three words, and one so complete, could refer to any other than St. Peter.
But what makes the possibility of error more remote is that the remains were found in a Christian burial ground, and more yet, of the first century, the very time in which Peter lived. In fact, I have a letter from a noted scientist stating that he can tell by the writing that it was written just before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D.
I talked to priest Milik, the co-writer of this Italian book, in the presence of my friend, a Christian Arab, Mr. S. J. Mattar, who now is the warden of the Garden Tomb, where Jesus was buried and rose again. This priest, Milik, admitted that he knew that the bones of St. Peter are not in Rome. I was very much surprised that he would admit that, so to confirm his admittance, I said, to which he also agreed, "There is a hundred times more evidence that Peter was buried in Jerusalem than in Rome." This was something of an understatement, for he knew as I know that there is absolutely no evidence at all that Peter was buried in Rome.
I have spoken on the subject to many Franciscan priests who either were or had been in Jerusalem, and they all agree that the tomb and remains of St. Peter are in Jerusalem. There was just one exception which is interesting and which only proves the point. The Franciscan priest, Augusto Spykerman, who was in charge of the semi-private museum inside the walls of old Jerusalem, by the site of the Franciscan Church of the Flagellation, was that exception. When I asked to see the museum, he showed it to the three of us, Mr. Mattar, who in addition to being warden of the Tomb of Christ, had been the manager of an English bank in Jerusalem, a. professional photographer and myself. But he told us nothing of the discovery. I knew that the evidence of Peter’s burial was there, for priests had told me that relics from the Christian burial ground were preserved within this museum. People who lived in Jerusalem all their lives and official guides who are supposed to know every inch of the city, however, knew nothing of this discovery, so well was it withheld from the public. I had asked an elderly official guide where the tomb of St. Peter was. He responded in a very profound and majestic tone of voice, "The Tomb of St. Peter has never been found in Jerusalem." "Oh," I said, "but I have seen the burial place of Peter with my own eyes." He turned on me with a fierceness that is so common among Arabs. "What," he replied, "you a foreigner mean to tell me that you know where the tomb of St. Peter is when I have been an official guide for thirty-five years and know every inch of ground in Jerusalem?" I was afraid that he would jump at my throat. I managed to calm him as I said, "But sir, here are the pictures and you can see the ossuary, among others, with Peter’s name in Aramaic. You can also see this for yourself on the Mount of Olives on the Franciscan Convent site called, "Dominus Flevit". When I finished he slowly turned away in stunned amazement. A person who has seen this Christian burial ground and knows the circumstances surrounding the case could never doubt that this truly is the burial place of St. Peter and of other Christians. I, too, walked around in a dreamy amazement for about a week for I could hardly believe what I had seen and heard. Since the circulation of this article, they do not allow anyone to see this burial place.
Before things had gone very far, I had been quite discouraged for I could get no information from the many priests with whom I had talked. However, I continued questioning priests wherever I would find them. Finally one priest dropped some information. With that knowledge I approached another priest who warily asked me where I had acquired that information. I told him that a priest had told me. Then he admitted the point and dropped a little more information. It went on like that for some time until I got the whole picture, and I was finally directed to where I could see the evidence for myself. To get the story, it made me feel as though I had a bull by the tail and were trying to pull him through a key hole. But when I had gathered all the facts in the case, the priests could not deny the discovery of the tomb, but even confirmed it, though reluctantly. In fact, I have the statement from a Spanish priest on the Mount of Olives on a tape recorder, to that effect.
But here we were talking to this Franciscan priest in charge of the museum, asking him questions which he tried to evade but could not because of the information I had already gathered from the many priests with whom I had spoken. Finally after the pictures of the evidence were taken, which was nothing short of a miracle that he allowed us to do so, I complimented him on the marvelous discovery of the tomb of St. Peter in Jerusalem that the Franciscans had made. He was clearly nervous as he said, "Oh no, the tomb of St. Peter is in Rome." But as he said that, his voice faltered, a fact which even my friend, Mr. Mattar, had noticed. Then I looked him squarely in the eyes and firmly said, "No, the tomb of St. Peter is in Jerusalem." He looked at me like a guilty school boy and held his peace. He was, no doubt, placed there to hide the facts, but his actions and words, spoke more convincingly about the discovery than those priests who finally admitted the truth.
I also spoke to a Franciscan priest in authority at the priest’s printing plant within the walls of old Jerusalem, where their book on the subject was printed. He also admitted that the tomb of St. Peter is in Jerusalem. Then when I visited the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, I encountered a Franciscan monk. After telling him what I thought of the wonderful discovery the Franciscans had made, I asked him plainly, "Do you folks really believe that those are the remains of St. Peter?" He responded, "Yes we do, we have no choice in the matter. The clear evidence is there." I did not doubt the evidence, but what surprised me was that these priests and monks believed that which was against their own religion and on top of that, to admit it to others was something out of this world. Usually a Catholic, either because he is brainwashed or stubbornly doesn’t want to see anything only that which he has been taught, will not allow himself to believe anything against his religion, much less to admit it to others. But there is a growing, healthy attitude among many Catholics, to "prove all things, hold fast to that which is good" as the Master admonished us all.
Then I asked, "Does Father Bagatti (co-writer of the book in Italian on the subject, and archaeologist) really believe that those are the bones of St. Peter?" "Yes, he does," was the reply. Then I asked, "But what does the Pope think of all this?" That was a thousand dollar question and he gave me a million dollar answer. "Well," he confidentially answered in a hushed voice, "Father Bagatti told me personally that three years ago he went to the Pope (Pius XII) in Rome and showed him the evidence and the Pope said to him, ‘Well, we will have to make some changes, but for the time being, keep this thing quiet’." In awe I asked also in a subdued voice, "So the Pope really believes that those are the bones of St. Peter?" "Yes," was his answer. "The documentary evidence is there, he could not help but believe."
I visited various renowned archaeologists on the subject. Dr. Albright, of the John Hopkins University in Baltimore, told me that he personally knew priest Bagatti and that he was a very competent archaeologist. I also spoke with Dr. Nelson Gluek, archaeologist and president of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I showed him the pictures found in this article, but being with him for only a few minutes I therefore could not show him the wealth of material that you have before you in this article. However, he quickly recognized the Aramaic words to be "Simon Bar Jona". (Aramaic is very similar to Hebrew). I asked him if he would write a statement to that effect. He said to do so would cast a reflection on the competency of the priest J. T. Milik, who he knew to be a very able scientist. But he said that he would write a note. I quote,
"I regard Father J. T. Milik as a first class scholar in the Semitic field." He added, "I do not consider that names on ossuaries are conclusive evidence that they are those of the Apostles." Nelson Glueck
I quote this letter of Dr. Glueck because it shows that priest Milik is a competent archaeologist. As I have mentioned, I was only able to be with him for a few minutes and was not able to show him but a very small part of the evidence. Anyone, including myself, would readily agree with Dr. Glueck that if only the name Simon Bar Jona on the ossuary was all the evidence that was available it would not be conclusive evidence that it was of the Apostle Peter, though it would certainly be a strong indication. The story of the cave and the ossuaries and the regular cemetery just outside of the Convent site is this: It was a Roman custom that when a person had died and after about ten years when the body had decomposed, the grave would be opened. The bones would be placed in a small ossuary with the name of the person carefully written on the outside front. These ossuaries would then be placed in a cave as in the case of this Christian burial ground and thus making room for others. But this cave or burial place where the ossuaries were found and which was created and brought about through the natural and disinterested sequence of events, without any reason to change facts or circumstances, was a greater testimony than if there were a witness recorded, stating that Peter was buried there. And yet, even that is unmistakenly recorded in the three words in Aramaic of the ossuary, Simon Bar Jona. Herein, lies the greatest proof that Peter never was a Pope, and never was in Rome, for if he had been, it would have certainly been proclaimed in the New Testament. History, likewise, would not have been silent on the subject, as they were not silent in the case of the Apostle Paul. Even the Catholic history would have claimed the above as a fact and not as fickle tradition. To omit Peter as being Pope and in Rome (and the Papacy) would be like omitting the Law of Moses or the Prophets or the Acts of the Apostles from the Bible.
Dr. Glueck, being Jewish, and having been to Jerusalem, no doubt, is fully aware of the fact that for centuries the Catholic Church bought up what were thought to be holy sites, some of which did not stand up to Biblical description. For instance, the priests say that the tomb of Jesus is within the walls of the old Jerusalem, in a hole in the ground; whereas, the Bible says that the tomb where Jesus was laid was hewn out of rock and a stone was rolled in front and not on top of it. The Garden Tomb at the foot of Golgotha, outside the walls of old Jerusalem, meets the Biblical description perfectly. In fact, all those who were hated by the Jewish leaders, as Jesus was, could never have been allowed to be buried within the gates of the Holy City. The tomb where Jesus lay was made for Joseph of Arimathaea. His family were all stout and short of stature. In this burial place you can see to this day where someone had carved deeper into the wall to make room for Jesus who was said to be about six feet tall.
When Pope Pius XII declared the Assumption of Mary to be an article of faith in 1950, the Catholic Church in Jerusalem then quickly sold the tomb of Mary to the Armenian Church. Ex-priest Lavallo told me personally that there is another tomb of St. Mary in Ephesus. But the tomb of St. Peter is altogether different for they would rather that it never existed, and to buy or sell such a site would be out of the question. It fell upon them in this manner, as I was told by a Franciscan monk of the monastery of "Dominus Flevit". One of their members was spading the ground on this site in 1953, when his shovel fell through. Excavation was started and there, a large underground Christian burial ground was uncovered. The initial of Christ in Greek was written there which would never have been found in a Jewish, Arab or pagan cemetery. By the structure of the writings, it was established by scientists that they were of the days just before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D. On the ossuaries were found many names of the Christian of the early Church. It was prophesied in the Bible that Jesus would stand on the Mount of Olives at His return to earth. You can see then, how the Christians would be inclined to have their burial ground on the Mount, for here also, had been a favorite meeting place of Jesus and His disciples. In all the cemetery, nothing was found (as also in the Catacombs in Rome) which resemble Arab, Jewish, Catholic or pagan practices. Dr. Glueck, being Jewish, is not fully aware, no doubt, that such a discovery is very embarrassing since it undermines the very foundation of the Roman Catholic Church. Since Peter did not live in Rome and therefore was not martyred or buried there, it naturally follows that he was not their first Pope.
The Catholic Church says that Peter was Pope in Rome from 41 to 66 A.D., a period of twenty-five years, but the Bible shows a different story. The book of the Acts of the Apostles (in either the Catholic or Protestant Bible) records the following: Peter was preaching the Gospel to the circumcision (the Jews) in Caesarea and Joppa in Palestine, ministering unto the household of Cornelius, which is a distance of 1,800 miles from Rome (Acts 10:23, 24). Soon after, about the year 44 A.D. (Acts 12), Peter was cast into prison in Jerusalem by Herod, but he was released by an angel. From 46 to 52 A.D., we read in the 13th chapter that he was in Jerusalem preaching the difference between Law and Grace. Saul was converted in 34 A.D. and became Paul the Apostle (Acts 9). Paul tells us that three years after his conversion in 37 A.D., he "went up to Jerusalem to see Peter" (Galatians 1:18), and in 51 A.D., fourteen years later, he again went up to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1, 8), Peter being mentioned. Soon after that he met Peter in Antioch, and as Paul says, "Withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed," Gal. 2:11. The evidence is abundant, the truth is clear from the Scriptures which have never failed. It would be breathtaking to read of the boldness of Paul in dealing with Peter. Very few, if any, have withstood a Pope and lived (except in these days when everybody seems to withstand him). If Peter were Pope it would have been no different. Paul does not only withstand Peter but rebukes him and blames him of being at fault.
This reminds me of my visit to the St. Angelo Castle in Rome. This castle, which is a very strong fortress, is connected with the Vatican by a high arched viaduct of about a mile in length over which popes have fled in time of danger. The Roman Catholic guide showed me a prison room which had a small air-tight chamber in it. He told me that a Cardinal who had contended with a pope on doctrine was thrown into this air-tight chamber for nearly two hours until he almost smothered to death. He then was led to the guillotine a few feet away and his head was cut off. Another thing remained with me forcibly. The guide showed me through the apartments of the various popes who had taken refuge there. In each case he also showed me the apartment of the mistresses of each of the popes. I was amazed that he made no attempt to hide anything. I asked him "Are you not a Catholic?" He humbly answered, "Oh yes, I am a Catholic, but I am ashamed of the history of many of the popes, but I trust that our modern popes are better." I then asked him, "Surely you are aware of the affair between Pope Pius XII and his housekeeper?" Many in Rome say that she ran the affairs of the Pope and the Vatican as well. He hung his head in shame and sadly said, "Yes, I know."
All this explains why the Catholic Church has been so careful to keep this discovery unknown. They were successful in doing just that from 1953, when it was discovered by the Franciscans on their own convent site, until 1959. Having succeeded for so long in keeping "this thing quiet," as the Pope had admonished, they were off guard when a fellow at that time came along who appeared harmless but persistent. Little did they know that this fellow would publish the news everywhere. Their position in the world is shaky enough without this discovery becoming generally known.
As I have mentioned, I had a very agreeable talk with priest Milik, but I did not have the opportunity to see priest Bagatti while in Jerusalem. I wrote to him, however, on March 15, 1960, as follows: "I have spoken with a number of Franciscan priests and monks and they have told me about you and the book of which you are a co-writer. I had hoped to see you and to compliment you on such a great discovery, but time would not permit. Having heard so much about you and that you are an archaeologist (with the evidence in hand), I was convinced, with you, concerning the ancient burial ground that the remains found in the ossuary with the name on it, ‘Simon Bar Jona’, written in Aramaic, were those of St. Peter." It is remarkable that in his reply he did not contradict my statement, which he certainly would have done if he honestly could have done so. "I was very much convinced with you - ... that the remains found in the ossuary ... were those of St. Peter." This confirms the talk I had with the Franciscan monk in Bethlehem and the story he told me of Priest Bagatti’s going to the Pope with the evidence concerning the bones of St. Peter in Jerusalem. In his letter one can see that he is careful because of the Pope’s admonition to keep this discovery quiet. He therefore wrote me that he leaves the whole explanation of the Aramaic words, "Simon Bar Jona", to priest Milik. This is a familiar way of getting out of a similar situation. In priest Bagatti’s letter one can see that he is in a difficult position. He cannot go against what he had written in 1953, at the time of the discovery of this Christian-Jewish burial ground, nor what he had said to the Franciscan monk about his visit to the Pope. However, he does raise a question which helps him to get out of the situation without altogether contradicting himself and at the same time putting a smoke screen around the truth. He wrote,
"Supposing that it is ‘Jona’ (on the ossuary) as I believe, it may be some other relative of St. Peter, because names were passed on from family to family. To be able to propose the identification of it with St. Peter would go against a long tradition, which has its own value. Anyway, another volume will come soon that will demonstrate that the cemetery was Christian and of the first century to the second century A.D. The salute in God most devoted P. B. Bagatti C. F. M."
As I have shown, after the admonition of the Pope to "keep this thing quiet," priest Bagatti leaves the interpretation of the whole matter to priest Milik who offers several suggestions but in the end declares that the original statement of priest Bagatti may be true—that the inscription and the remains were of St. Peter. It is also very interesting and highly significant that priest Bagatti, in his attempt to neutralize his original statement and the consternation the discovery had and would have if it were generally known, says in reference to the name Simon Bar Jona (St. Peter), "It may be some other relative of St. Peter, because names were passed on from generation to generation." In other words he says that Peter’s name, Simon Bar Jona, could have been given him from a relative of the same name of generations before him, or, could belong to a relative generations after St. Peter. Both speculations are beyond the realm of the possible. First of all, it could not refer to a relative before St. Peter for the Christian burial ground could only have come into being after Jesus began. His public ministry and had converts; and therefore, could not belong to a relative before Peter’s time, since only those who were converted through Christ’s ministry were buried there. Titus destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and left it desolate. Therefore, it is impossible that the inscription could refer to a relative after Peter’s time. One encyclopedia explains the destruction in these words, ‘‘With this event the history of ancient Jerusalem came to a close, for it was left desolate and it’s inhabitants were scattered abroad." >From all evidence, Peter was about fifty years old when Jesus called him to be an Apostle, and he died around the age of 82, or about the year 62 A.D. Since by these figures there was only eight years left from the time of Peter’s death until the destruction of Jerusalem, it was then impossible that the inscription and remains belonged to generations after Peter. In those days names were passed on to another only after a lapse of many years. But let us say that immediately after the death of St. Peter, a baby was christened, "Simon Bar Jona", the inscription still could not have been of this baby for the remains were of an adult and not of a child of eight years who had died just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., at which time "the history of ancient Jerusalem came to a close, for it was left desolate and its inhabitants were scattered abroad."
This ancient Christian burial ground shows that Peter died and was buried in Jerusalem, which is easily understandable since neither history nor the Bible tells of Peter’s having been in Rome. To make matters more clear, the Bible tells us that Peter was the Apostle to the Jews. It was Paul who was the Apostle to the Gentiles, and both history and the Bible tells of his being in Rome. No wonder that the Roman Catholic Bishop, Strossmayer, in his great speech against papal infallibility before the Pope and the Council of 1870 said, "Scaliger, one of the most learned men, has not hesitated to say that St. Peter’s episcopate and residence in Rome ought to be classed with ridiculous legends."
Eusebius, one of the most learned men of his time, wrote the Church history up to the year 325 A.D. He said that Peter never was in Rome. This Church history was translated by Jerome from the original Greek, but in his translation he added a fantastic story of Peter’s residence in Rome. This was a common practice in trying to create credence in their doctrines, using false statements, false letters and falsified history. This is another reason why we cannot rely on tradition, but only on the infallible Word of God.
The secrecy surrounding this case is amazing, and yet understandable, since Catholics largely base their faith on the assumption that Peter was their first Pope and that he was martyred and buried there. But I am somewhat of the opinion that the Franciscan priests, those who are honest, would be glad to see the truth proclaimed, even if it displeased those who are over them. While visiting with priest Milik, I told him of the highly educated priest with whom I had spoken just before going from Rome to Jerusalem. He admitted to me that the remains of Peter are not in the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican. I asked him what had happened to them? He responded, "We don’t know, but we think that the Saracens stole them away." First of all, the Saracens never got to Rome, but even if they had, what would they want with the bones of Peter? But they never got to Rome, so there it ends. We had a good laugh together, but more so when I told him of my discussion with a brilliant American priest in Rome. I asked this American priest if he knew that the bones of Peter were not in the "Tomb of St. Peter" in the Vatican. He admitted that they were not there. However, he said that a good friend of his, an archaeologist, had been excavating under St. Peter’s Basilica for the bones of St. Peter for a number of years and five years ago he found them. Now a man can be identified by his fingerprints, but never by his bones. So I asked him how he knew they were the bones of St. Peter? He hesitated and tried to change the subject, but on my insistence he finally explained that they had taken the bones to a chemist, and they were analyzed and it was judged that the bones were of a man who had died at about the age of sixty-five; therefore, they must be Peter’s. How ridiculous can people be?
Mark you, all the priests agree that the Vatican and St. Peter’s were built over a pagan cemetery. This was a very appropriate place for them to build since, as even Cardinal Newman admitted, there are many pagan practices in the Roman Catholic Church. You realize surely, that Christians would never bury their dead in a pagan cemetery, and you may be very sure that pagans would never allow a Christian to be buried in their cemetery. So, even if Peter died in Rome, which is out of the question, surely the pagan cemetery under St. Peter’s Basilica would be the last place in which he would have been buried. Also, Peter from every indication, lived to be over 80 and not 65 years old. The Pope was right, going back to the early Christian burial ground, they must make changes and many of them and fundamental ones at that. But I am afraid that the Pope’s (Pius XII) admittance of the discovery on Bagatti’s presentation of the documentary evidence was to satisfy Bagatti but at the same time admonishing him to keep the information quiet, hoping that the truth of the discovery would die out. But they have said that after all these years of excavation under the Vatican, they have discovered Greek words which read, "Peter is buried here," and it gives the date 160 A.D. First of all, the very structure of the sentence immediately gives one the impression that either quite recently or long ago, someone put the sign there hoping that it would be taken as authentic in order to establish that which then, and even now, has never been proven. Then there is a discrepancy in the date, for Peter was martyred around the year 62 A.D. and not 160 A.D. Thirdly, why is it that they mention nothing about finding bones under or around the sign? While visiting the Catacombs, one sees a few things which are not becoming to Christians, but which tend to indicate that the Christians had some pagan practices, similar to those of Rome today. Nothing is said about them and only after persistent questioning will the Roman Catholic priest, who acts as guide, tell you that those things, images, etc., were placed there centuries after the early Christian era.
In 1950, just a few years prior to the discovery of the Christian burial ground in Jerusalem, the Pope made the strange declaration that the bones of St. Peter were found under St. Peter’s in Rome. Strange it was, for since beginning to build the church in 1450 (finished in 1626) they erected, St. Peter’s Tomb (?) under the large dome and Bernini's serpentine columns. Since then multiplied millions were thereby deceived into believing that the remains of St. Peter were there, which the hierarchy had all along known was not true, as is proven by the late Pope’s declaration. The following was published in the Newsweek of July 1, 1957:
"It was in 1950 that Pope Pius XII in his Christmas message announced that the tomb of St. Peter had indeed been found, as tradition held, beneath the immense dome of the Cathedral (there was, however, no evidence that the bones uncovered there belonged to the body of the martyr)." The parentheses are Newsweek’s.
To make an announcement of such importance when there is absolutely "no evidence" is rather ridiculous as is also brought out in the Time Magazine of October 28, 1957 (as in above, we quote the article word for word).
"A thorough account in English of the discoveries beneath St. Peter’s is now available ... by British archaeologists Jocelyn Toynbee and John Ward Perkins. The authors were not members of the excavating team, but scholars Toynbee (a Roman Catholic) and Perkins (an Anglican) poured over the official Vatican reports painstakingly examined the diggings. Their careful independent conclusions fall short of the Pope’s flat statement." (The Pope’s statement that the remains of St. Peter were found under St. Peter’s in Rome). The excavation under St. Peter’s for the remains of St. Peter is still going on secretly, in spite of the Pope’s declaration of 1950.
Then in 1965, an archaeologist at Rome University, Prof. Margherita Guarducci, tells of a new set of bones belonging to Peter. The story was fantastic but lacked common sense and even bordered on the infantile—but a drowning man will grab for a straw and a straw it was to many. But the Palo Alto Times (California), May 9, 1967, came out with an article on the subject, and I quote, "Other experts, among them Msgr. Joseph Ruysschaert, vice prefect of the Vatican Library are not convinced by Miss Guarducci’s evidence. ‘There are too many unknowns,’ he told reporters on a recent tour of the Vatican grottoes, ‘There is no continuous tracing of the bones. We lack historical proof. They could be anyone’s bones.’ The Vatican would seem to be on the monsignor's side because so far it has taken no steps to officially recognize the bones as St. Peter’s," continues the article.
The intelligent priest of whom I have mentioned said that Peter’s bones were found and he was a man who died of about 62 years of age, the tests indicated. Pope Pius XII declared these bones were the bones of St. Peter, in his Christmas message of 1950. These were the same as claimed by Newsweek, "there was, however, no evidence that the bones uncovered there belonged to the body of the martyr (Peter)," as well as the above doubtful statements of the archaeologists working on the case. The Pope, notwithstanding, was overjoyed to think they had found the bones of St. Peter until further examination proved that these bones were those of a woman. This fact came out in an article on the subject in the S. F. Chronicle of June 27, 1968.
To continue the history of another case in which they have erred: In spite of the statements by the high Papal authority above and the resultant lesson that should have been learned, the Pope, a year later claimed the Prof. Margherita bones as his very own, that is, those of St. Peter. When the bones were found there was little importance placed upon them and they were filed away as such. But when the first set of Peter’s bones turned out so tragically, there was a vacuum left and something had to be done. Again they turned their thoughts to the filed-away bones, the only hope they had of success. In them there was a ray of hopes for the bones were minus a skull, which could go along with the story of the supposed skull of St. Peter which had for centuries been guarded in the church of St. John Lateran in Rome. With a generous mixture of ideas, suppositions, theories and wishful thinking, a fairly logical story emerged. It was then declared by Pope Paul as the Gospel truth, that these now, were the genuine bones of St. Peter, and most of the faithful accepted them as such. For a while all was well until another hitch developed. This time, as fate would have it, the bones in connection with the skull which was guarded for centuries as that of St. Peter, were found incompatible to the more recent bones of St. Peter. The dilemma was terrible. They were between the Devil and the deep blue sea. They have juggled around the skulls of St. Peter causing confusion. It was a choice of claiming these bones championed by Prof. Margherita as fake, or claiming as fake the skull accepted by hundreds of Popes as that of St. Peter. They rejected the past rather than expose themselves to the ridicule of the present. Prof. Margherita claims in this article which appeared in the Manchester Guardian in London, as well as the S. F. Chronicle of June 27, 1968, concerning the long accepted skull of St. Peter, as "it is a fake." Then the article continues, "The hundreds of Popes and millions of Roman Catholics who have accepted and venerated the other skull were innocent victims of another early tradition."
But the most astounding statement in the long article found in the above mentioned newspapers is, "The professor did not submit them (Peter’s bones?) to modern scientific tests, which would have determined the approximate age, because, she feared, the process would have reduced them to dust." How could any scientific study of bones be carried out without first scientifically determining the age of the person, or bones? This would be of the greatest interest and the most important for further research. Also any scientist or chemist knows that you do not have to submit the whole skeleton for testing to determine the age. A part of the shin bone or of a rib would be sufficient. It appears that she was protecting her "Peter’s bones" from another possible disaster, which a wrong age would have caused. The Vatican and others have calculated through all existing evidence that Peter lived to be around 80 and 82 years, and that he died around the years of 62 or 64 A.D. These figures go along perfectly, as does everything else in the case, with the remains found in the Christian burial ground on the Mount of Olives and in the ossuary on which was "clearly and beautifully written," Simon Bar Jona in Aramaic. The following was taken from the book, Races of Mankind, page 161:
"Strained attempts to have Peter, the Apostle to the Hebrews of the East, in Paul’s territory at Rome and martyred there are unworthy of serious consideration in the light of all contemporary evidence. At his age (eighty-two), that would not have been practicable. In none of Paul’s writings is there the slightest intimation that Peter ever had been or was at that city. All statements to the contrary were made centuries later and are fanciful and hearsay. The Papacy was not organized until the second half of the 8th century. It broke away from the Eastern Church (in the Ency. Brit., 13th Ed., vol. 21, page 636) under Pippin III; also the Papacy, by Abbe Guette."
The great historian, Schaff, states that the idea of Peter being in Rome is irreconcilable with the silence of the Scriptures, and even with the mere fact of Paul’s epistle to the Romans. In the year 58, Paul wrote his epistle to the Roman church, but does not mention Peter, although he does name 28 leaders in the church at Rome (Rom. 16:7). It must, therefore, be concluded that if the whole subject is faced with detached objectivity, the conclusion must inevitably be reached that Peter was never in Rome. Paul lived and wrote in Rome, but he declared that "Only Luke is with me." (1 Tim. 4:11)
Copyright 1960 by F. PAUL PETERSON. Copies may be obtained from your local bookstore or from the author and publisher, F. Paul Peterson, P.0. Box 7351, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Price $2.00. Permission is granted to reproduce any part of this book if title, price and address where it may be purchased are given.
Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit
Color Plate - Chi Rho inscription found in Site 79.
Page 7 - Fig. 3 Diagram of Catacomb - Site 79 contained Peter's ossuary [N. 19], site 70 contained Mary and Martha's ossuary [N. 27].
Page 83 - #11 text regarding Peter's inscription.
Page 86 - Fig. 22 Diagram of Peter's inscription (#1).
Table 3 - Photo Overview of site 79, Photo of Ossuary of Mary and Martha at site 70.
Table 4 - Ossuaries at site 79. Photo 7 As discovered, Photo 8 After first row of ossuaries removed.
Table 29 / Photo 81 - Peter's inscription.
Jerusalem Burial Cave Reveals: Names, Testimonies of First Christians by Jean Gilman.
Dominus Flevit at ChristusRex.
A Typical Tomb Near Dominus Flevit at Holy Land Photos.
The Discovery of the Tombs of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus by Grant Jeffrey
The Bones of St. Peter (in Rome)? at University College Dublin, Ireland.
Peter's Bones and Rome's Truth
Also of note:
According to the venerable Bede's (673-735 A.D.) Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, Book III, chapter XXIX, the bones (relics) of Peter and Paul were shipped by Vitalian, bishop of Rome, to Oswy, king of the Saxons in 665 A.D. The librarian at Canterbury Cathedral has apparently confirmed that church inventories do record the arrival of the remains of Peter and Paul into the church's safekeeping, shortly after Pope Vitalian sent them to Britain. Unfortunately though, the remains were apparently lost, or record of their location was lost, probably in the aftermath of the Cromwellian Rebellion of the mid 17th century. (see this page).
Was the Apostle Peter Ever in the City of Rome?
by A. Allison Lewis
Was Peter, the apostle of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the City of Rome at any time during his life here on the Earth?
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, elders, scribes, Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest were gathered together at Jerusalem. When they had set them in the midst, [that is Peter and John] they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "You rulers of the people and elders of Israel, 'If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him does this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved'" [ACT 4:5-12].
Salvation is only through the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the rock. He is what the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is founded upon. He is the Head, and those of us who have been born again by the grace of God, regardless of what local church we might be a member of or of what age we find ourselves in (Old Testament Saint or New Testament Saint), are part of the body of Christ.
There is no man on this Earth who is the head of the Church. The Lord Jesus Christ, and He alone, is the head of His body which is the Church. He says very plainly that there is no salvation—there’s no remedy for sin except the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Father sent Him into the World, as Peter put it to bear our sins in His own body on the tree [1PE 2:24]. Yes, He died in our place, and that sacrifice was sufficient for all our sins. We have people who say that His death was necessary and that it was a part of the remedy for our sin, BUT then we have to add our works to it. However, the Bible tells us in no uncertain terms that it is ALL of Gods grace: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast [EPH 2:8, 9]. And when we come to the place where we can say, "O.K., God, I did something, now you’ve got to save me," we are boasting. We are boasting in our goodness—in our works—and the Bible makes it plain that our works are as filthy rags before God [ISA 64:6]. The very best that we can do—is as filthy rags. No, we’re saved by grace, and as Peter preached, he said, Neither is there salvation in any other: [Not in some church leader. Not in some church organization. Not in some local church. Not in some church ceremonies.] for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
This man, the Apostle Peter, was a man that the Bible speaks of as being married. He had a mother-in-law [MAT 8:14]. Then in 1 Corinthians 9:5, which Paul wrote around 58 AD, we see that Peter was traveling with his wife. He was an itinerant missionary travelling from place to place. Much of the time, apparently he took his wife along with him.
Then we see in Galatians 2:7-9: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel to the uncircumcision [Gentiles] was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision [Jews] was unto Peter; (For He Who worked effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me [Paul], they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen [Gentiles], and they unto the circumcision.
Peter was the apostle of the Jews. Paul was the Apostle to the gentiles–to the foreigners, to the heathen. Now the question we want to look at for a few moments is: "Was Peter the Apostle ever in the city of Rome?" Did he spend time in the city of Rome, preaching the Gospel, establishing a church in that city?
First of all, there is no place in the New Testament where there is any hint or any record of any kind that Peter was in Rome. In 1 Peter 5:13, it tells us very plainly that he wrote that epistle from the city of Babylon [In Peters day Babylon was still a city and a territory—See Josephus, Antiquities, Book xv, Ch 2, 2. "The ancient city of Mesopotamia, an area which was then a center of pure and uncompromising Judiasim" p. 65, 1 Peter by A. M. Stibbs. ACT 2:9 tells us they were in the Pentecost crowd. "After the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 Babylonia became, and for centuries remained, a seat of Jewish Schools devoted to the study and interpretation of the law" Dictionary of the Bible, p. 72, by J. J. Davis]. This is far to the east of the Roman Empire and not in Rome which is in the western part of the Empire. This is where Peter apparently had much of his ministry among the many Jews scattered there from previous centuries. He was there preaching that the Messiah had come, that Jesus Christ was that promised Messiah, and that Jesus Christ was the only hope of salvation. He was there preaching to those people when he wrote the epistles of 1 and 2 Peter. He wrote to those who were in what is now Asia Minor or what is now modern Turkey. All of these districts that he mentions are in a little section of eastern Turkey. The New Testament gives no statement or hint whatever that Peter was ever in the City of Rome, the Capital of the Roman Empire in his day.
There is some groundless tradition that says Peter was in Rome. One problem with the tradition is that the tradition is full of errors, mistakes, things that are incorrect. I’ve read parts of Josephus, all of the Apostolic Fathers, in English translation. Time and time again, as I read in these old writings, or check some writers reference to them. The references are there but in the very context in which the references are found the whole thing was full of things that are contradictory to the New Testament. Therefore being contrary to the New Testament their evidence is worthless.
For instance in the Apostolic Fathers, in THE DIDACHE, or TEACHING OF THE APOSTLES we find a paragraph in which many people wish to use a statement there about Baptism. That reference to Baptism is found in a very short paragraph which contains things that are contradictory to the New Testament. Therefore we cannot give any weight to one little statement that people want to use to help them in their false idea of what Baptism is about. Now whether they are intentional or not is beside the point. The errors are there. So it is an unreliable piece of writing. There may be some things there that are interesting and some things that are helpful and there may be some things that are true, but it is unreliable [The Apostolic Fathers, translated by J. B. Lightfoot and edited and completed by J. R. Harmer, 1973 (rpt of 1891 edition), Grand Rapids: MI, Baker Book House. p. 126].
Josephus' writings contain so much that is fanciful and even just plain ridiculous that a person has to try to pick out what is fact and what is fiction. You cannot just say Josephus said such and such and say that is a fact; that is true. No, you have to weigh the things that he says very carefully. Is it true? Are there other things in the history of that time that corroborates what he says. You cannot just take it because Josephus said it and say, "that’s a fact!" Many times he contradicts what the Bible says. When he gives the "History of the Jews", the history of Israelite people, time and time again, he contradicts what the Old Testament says concerning the history of the Jewish people. So you have to be very careful when you read these writings. Old? Yes, they are. Josephus wrote around the time shortly after Christ lived. He probably died shortly after 100 AD, himself. So he was living in old times.
You have to be careful concerning the tradition that Peter was in Rome. We find something of this written in Irenaeus, one of the Early Church Fathers. He says in one place in his writings that Matthew wrote his gospel while Peter and Paul were in Rome preaching the gospel and founding the Church there. All right, he makes a very plain statement. He says Peter and Paul were in Rome preaching the gospel and founding the church there. He says that Matthew wrote his gospel at that time. Eusebius, who lived in the 400s AD, says that Peter founded the Church in Rome. Eusebius did not live when Peter lived. Josephus did live while Peter was still alive, but Eusebius is using the records that are available to him to get his information and he says Peter, having founded the church at Antioch [which he did not], departed for Rome, preaching the gospel. So both of these, Eusebius, three centuries later, and Irenaeus in the 200s or late 100s says that Peter was in Rome. The only trouble is, both of these statements contain error, false information. Peter did not found the church at Antioch, yet this is what Eusebius records. It says after Peter founded the Church at Antioch, he departed for Rome. Peter did not found the church at Antioch. Nor did he and Paul preach together at Rome. So both Irenaeus and Eusebius in their writing what they believed was history were in error concerning what they say about Peter and Paul. So the tradition is not reliable. We cannot take it for any worth whatever. Take it as they say with a grain of salt and better take a lot of salt with it.
Then, we come to something else which is far more important, [i.e.] the silence of the Apostle Paul with respect to the Apostle Peter and the city of Rome. As you recall, Paul wrote much of the New Testament. They cover a tremendous number of years and that’s not all, one of the books (one of the major ones) was written to the Christians who lived in Rome. Also there were four written from Rome, during his first imprisonment and then a couple of more written from Rome during his last imprisonment shortly before he was killed because of his faith and preaching the Gospel. In all of these letters of Paul to the churches (to the Christians) either at Rome or from the city of Rome to others he mentions Christians in each of them. In fact he mentions by name a great number of them. And do you know what, he NEVER mentions Peter!
Now let’s look a little more closely at what he says. In the book of Romans, chapter one verses 1 and 7 he says: Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, [and then verse 7] To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Then as he completes his salutation he says, Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, … an apostle to all who are in Rome, Beloved of God, called to be saints. This would be better translated as the New American Standard Version puts it, "To all who are believers loved of God in Rome." He wasn’t just writing to the general population of the city of Rome. He was writing to the Saints. The New American Standard says, to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called saints. This is who he was writing to and as he wrote to them, when you come down to the last chapter of the book of Romans, he sends greetings to 27 members of the church, members of the body of Christ, the saints in Rome, BUT he doesn’t mention any Peter! He said nothing whatever about the Apostle Peter, and according to the tradition of the Church of Rome, Peter was there from 42 to 67 AD. When did Paul write the book of Romans? He wrote the book of Romans around 58 AD. Now if Peter was in Rome from 42 to 67 AD that means by 58 AD, that Peter should have been there for about 16 years. Not only that but their tradition tells us that he was the head of the church. He was the chief pastor in the city of Rome. What would we think or what would any church think, or what would the ethics and morals of a man be who wrote to a church and didn’t even mention the pastor—mentioned 27 other people, 27 other saints of God there, but didn’t say a word of greeting to the pastor! Sound’s kind of ridiculous, doesn’t it. Well, really the reason Paul didn’t mention Peter is because Peter wasn’t there. Peter wasn’t the pastor. Peter wasn’t the preacher there of the saints in the church at Rome. Paul doesn’t mention Peter because he was not there. This point alone, I think, should be sufficient to open the eyes of the most blind, the most stubborn, to the fact that Peter was not the founder of the church in Rome. He was not there when Paul wrote around 58 AD—supposedly 16 years after Peter was there and founded the church!
Next let us look at Romans 1:11 which reads: For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established. Peter spent 16 years there and the church is still not established!! The apostle had not taught the church the things it needed to know! Boy, Peter must have been some incompetent! Couldn’t establish a church, couldn’t teach them proper doctrine in 16 years. So Paul says, I long to see you that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift. To the end, [or for the purpose] that you may be established. No, Peter wasn’t there. None of the other apostles had been there. How had the church become established in Rome? There were people on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem from the city of Rome, and those saints, as they went back to Rome, started the church there. They met in homes or wherever they could. They gathered around the word of God (Old Testament), and they studied the word of God, and they witnessed for their Lord, and won other converts, but they had no apostle. No apostle had ever been there to establish them, to give them authoritative teaching. And Paul said, I long to go, I long to teach you that you might be established. Then Paul says in Romans 15:20-24: Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation: But as it is written, To whom he was not spoken of, they shall see: and they that have not heard shall understand. For which cause also I have been much hindered from coming to you. Here, again, he points out the fact that he wanted to come, he tried to come, but so far he had been hindered from coming. Then he says in verses 23, 24: But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you whenever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way there by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. Paul was looking forward to that first time that he could be in the city of Rome. It had to be sometime after the AD 58 because this is when he wrote the epistle to the Romans. So he is still looking forward. He said it has been years that I have longed to come that I might establish you in the faith. None of the apostles had been there.
Later in Paul’s ministry, he went to Rome, however, he did not go as a free man as he had planned to do. He didn’t take a missionary journey to Spain as he had planned. I’m not saying he never went to Spain. It is possible that between the two prison terms that he got to go to Spain, but he did not go on his trip as he had hoped to Spain, and on the way stop by and meet with the Roman church—the saints in Rome. He went to Rome as a prisoner of the Roman Government. He was in his first imprisonment by the Romans for approximately four years, but it was only the last two that he was in Rome, itself. He spent the other time in Palestine. The last two years 61-63 AD, he was in Rome under Roman guard. Now as the epistles make plain, he wasn’t in a dungeon. He was not even in a prison. He was able to live in a house by himself and he had visitors come and go. Yet he was a prisoner, he was under (as it were in our societies terms) under house arrest. During this time he wrote epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and to Philemon between 61-63 AD. Now then, if Peter was in Rome from 42 to 67 (a period of 25 years) and Paul was there under house arrest surely he is going to have some information about Peter. Surely as he writes to the Ephesian Christians, the Philippians, the Colossians or to Philemon, surely he is going to have something, some greeting to give from Peter the apostle. No, he does not even mention him! He mentions many of his fellow helpers—several names are given, but no Peter. Thus we come down to 62 or maybe 63 AD. Peter has not been in Rome. Then we come to Paul’s second imprisonment. He was set free for a while but again in 67 AD we see him back in Rome, a prisoner of the Roman Government and this is apparently when he was put to death. What does the tradition say? It says that Peter was in Rome from 42 through 67 AD. The same time that Peter supposedly ends his ministry in Rome. Yes, Paul was imprisoned the second time in 67 AD. Now again he wrote a couple of letters. He wrote the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews 13:24, it says from Italy and then he also wrote 2 Timothy shortly before his death. This is the very year that Peter supposedly was martyred and you know what? There’s still no mention of Peter. Peter was not there. Peter was not in the city of Rome or ever in the city of Rome.
In 2 Timothy 4:10, 11. Paul says only Luke was with him. Peter never was in the city of Rome. The whole organizational structure of the Church of Rome is built on false tradition and tragic misinterpretation of our Lord's words. It is built on tradition that is just not true.
Either the statements presented in the Bible are true, OR the contrary traditions are true. The traditions however have obvious errors thouroughly embeded in them and are clearly unreliable. One or the other has to be false. The Bible is the revelation from God and it proves itself to be what it claims to be. It is true. Peter never was in the city of Rome.
We encourage you to check your Bible to see what the truth is. Do not listen to some man or the tradition of fallible men. If it’s false, it’s going to lead you to Hell and eternal damnation. Neither Peter NOR Mary is a way to Heaven? Do you want to have your sins forgiven or do you want to be bound with the chains of a false religion? The Apostle Peter said: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved [ACT 4:12].