A statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. The conclave to pick a new pope will begin on Tuesday (March 12) the Vatican said Friday, resolving an open question that had dogged the cardinals meeting here over the past week. RNS photo by David Gibson

A statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. RNS photo by David Gibson

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ROME (RNS) The Vatican said it would display for the first time bones believed to be the mortal remains of St. Peter, the leader of Jesus’ 12 apostles, to mark the end of the Year of Faith, Nov. 24.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, wrote in Monday’s editions of L’Osservatore Romano, that the Catholic faithful making a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb to mark the end of the Year of Faith will enjoy “the exposition … of the relics traditionally recognized as those of the apostle who gave his life for the Lord on this spot.”

Fisichella was referring to the long-held belief that Peter was crucified upside down and died in either A.D. 64 or 67 on the spot now marked by the Clementine Chapel inside the basilica that bears his name.

The church never officially declared the bones — which were discovered in the 1940s — authentic. But a series of exhaustive tests conducted on the bones between their discovery and 1968 convinced Pope Paul VI they had been “identified in a way we can hold to be convincing.” Previously, only the box containing the bones was on display.

Pope Benedict XVI declared the Year of Faith would begin on Oct. 11, 2012, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Benedict said at the time that the Year of Faith was a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversation to the Lord.”



  1. Tell me why Eastern, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches claim that St. Peter never went as far as Rome. In fact the closest he probably travelled to was Antioch where the believers were first to be called Christian. How can Roman Catholics prelates authenticate these bones belonged to St. Peter? No where in the Bible are we told that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome. Oral tradition is not always reliable to authentic truth. Rome desperately wants to convey to the world that all Popes are ligitimate heirs to St. Peter whom Christ appointed to be the first spiritual leader of the christian church. Schism between East and West is still alive.

  2. The East wants it two ways. [Or at least one way or the other]
    The successor of Peter is not so important they state – but if he is – then he stayed in the East.
    Although we have documentation of early Bishops [fathers] who gave us the account of Peter’s death in Rome.

    So – they cant have it both ways and they cant have it one way or the other either.

    Its a matter of pride and always has been. Thats mankind for ya.

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