Vatican Displays Bone Fragments Said to Be St. Peter's

For first time, pieces of bone are exhibited in public

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Nov 24, 2013 1:00 PM CST

(Newser) – The Vatican publicly unveiled a handful of bone fragments purportedly belonging to St. Peter today, reviving the scientific debate and tantalizing mystery over whether the relics found in a shoe box truly belong to the first pope. The nine pieces of bone sat nestled like rings in a jewel box inside a bronze display case on the side of the altar during a Mass commemorating the end of the Vatican's yearlong celebration of the Christian faith. It was the first time they had ever been exhibited in public.

Pope Francis prayed before the fragments at the start of today's service and then clutched the case in his arms for several minutes after his homily. No pope has ever definitively declared the fragments to belong to the Apostle Peter, but Pope Paul VI in 1968 said fragments found in the necropolis under St. Peter's Basilica were "identified in a way that we can consider convincing." Some archaeologists dispute the finding. But last week, a top Vatican official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said it almost doesn't matter if archaeologists one day definitively determine that the bones aren't Peter's, saying Christians have prayed at Peter's tomb for two millennia and will continue to, regardless. Click for more.

The relics of St. Peter are placed next to the altar prior to the start of a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the end of the Year of Faith, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Nov. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, left, holds the relics of St. Peter as he celebrates mass for the end of the Year of Faith, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis, center, holds the relics of St. Peter as he celebrates mass for the end of the Year of Faith, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
The relics of St. Peter are carried in procession prior to the start of a mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the end of the Year of Faith, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis blesses the relics of St. Peter as he celebrates mass for the end of the Year of Faith, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis blesses the relics of St. Peter as he celebrates mass for the end of the Year of Faith, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
In this April 1, 2013 file photo made available by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis, followed by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, right, visits the necropolis where pagans and early...   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, file, ho)
In this April 1, 2013 file photo made available by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Francis kneels in prayer in front of what is believed to be the burial site of St. Peter's in the necropolis...   (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano, file, ho)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
My TakeCLICK BELOW TO VOTE
14%
37%
2%
14%
1%
32%
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Other Sites We Like:   The Street   |   MSN Living   |   PopSugar Tech   |   RealClear   |   24/7 Wall St.   |   Biography   |   Barstool Sports   |   OK!