Vatican Discovery In Parking Lot Said To Confirm Burial Of Peter Under Basilica
By Michael H. Brown
The Catholic Church is the oldest Christian organization, dating back now 2,000 years -- in fact, the world's oldest ongoing institution, period. But is it the first Church? This is a question that has been in dispute since bands like the Montanists in the first centuries. Even in our own time, many non-Catholic Christians assert that the first Church was not Catholicism, but the small bands of free-wheeling evangelical types who roamed the countryside in the first century after Jesus.
While respecting other faiths, we have always maintained that, like so many other things, the answer can be found in the Bible. We speak here of Matthew 16:18 where Jesus made it very plain. In fact, it's one of the most straightforward passages in the New Testament. "I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church; and the gates of Hell will not overpower it," said Christ. Those who so literally quote Scripture (and who challenge the Catholic faith) thus may take note of a recent article that ran, of all places, in the Russian news service, Pravda. The headline was jarring. We meant to run it two days ago, but it was precluded by other news. It's a potentially significant story. For centuries, the Church has maintained that Peter is buried under what is now appropriately called St. Peter's Basilica. The Church is literally built on his bones, which through age have become ossified -- stonelike. The Pope always has been considered the successor to Peter, and now archeologists may even agree.
There are still disputes, and it's nearly impossible to definitively prove anything going back two millennia. But every major sign thus far bolsters the Vatican's claim to having been built over the Apostle. Such has been publicly stated since 1950. Now we have this headline in Pravda: "Vatican Discovery Proves To Be Apostle Peter's Burial Ground."
The article reads:
archaeological discovery was made in the Vatican when a site for construction of
car parking was being cleared. Archaeologists discovered an ancient necropolis
of the times of St. Apostle Peter, the same that is mentioned in the Gospel. Now
this version is studied by historians; if it proves true, this in its turn will
confirm another hypothesis suggested by historian Magrherita Guarducci. She
supposes that an entombment of St. Apostle Peter was found under the altar that
is situated under the St. Peter's basilica dome.
"This version has been waiting for confirmation or refutation since 1952.
"Director of Vatican museums Francesco Buranelli and archbishop Francesco Marchisano, the culture minister of the Vatican, have confirmed that the discovery is of top-priority importance. The statement was made at the time when archaeologists haven't yet provided final conclusions concerning the discovery.
According to Pravda, historians discovered "remains, two sarcophagi, Christian and pagan, floor mosaic, amphora, and fragments of terracotta articles. But further digging changed opinion of the scientists. Necropolis dated from the Nero epoch includes both Christian and pagan entombments. Buranelli says: 'These are the first burial grounds of Christians, the first made after those found under the St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican, the first after Saint Apostle Peter's grave. We made a decision to present the findings in a complete historical condition as soon as the works will be finished.'"
We love our non-Catholic fellow Christians, and appreciate their many contributions, but wish they would consider this and other recent finds indicating that Peter is buried just where Scripture said he would be.
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