Skip to comments.Excavations link ancient prison to apostle's last days
Posted on 06/25/2010 9:48:55 AM PDT by Palter
Archaeologists have discovered evidence to support the theory that St Peter was imprisoned in an underground dungeon by Nero before being crucified.
The Mamertine Prison, a dingy complex that now lies beneath a Renaissance church, has long been venerated as the place where the apostle was shackled before he was killed on the spot where the Vatican now stands.
It has been a place of Christian worship since medieval times, but after months of excavations, Italian archaeologists have found frescoes and other evidence indicating that it was associated with St Peter in the seventh century.
Dr Patrizia Fortini, of Rome's department of archaeology, said: "It was converted from being a prison into a focus of cult-like worship of St Peter by the seventh century at the latest, maybe earlier.
"It was a very rapid transformation. We think that by the eighth century, it was being used as a church. It would have been wonderful to find a document with his [St Peter's] name on it, but of course that was always going to be extremely unlikely."
St Peter and St Paul are said to have been incarcerated in the jail by the Emperor Nero.
The two saints are said to have caused an underground spring to miraculously rise up from the ground so that they could baptise their guards and fellow prisoners.
Peter was crucified, upside down, in 64. He was buried on the hill on which, 250 years later, Constantine built the first Basilica of St Peter.
The hellish prison in which the founder of the Roman Church supposedly spent his final days consisted of two levels of cells, one on top of each other.
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I absolutely adore St. Peter. I love reading about him. I am comforted knowing that he had flaws just like all of us but in the end he died a martyr and I am so proud of him.
once again my ignorance,
Is Saint Pete’s Cathederal built where the man died?
Conversely, today I consider hard times to having a hard time finding a parking spot to go shopping. How much we have changed in two millenia.
St. Peter’s Basilica
Maybe they expect to find a note in a bottle with the message,
“Help! Am being held prisoner. Peter”.
His tomb (confirmed by studies of the bodies found there) is directly beneath the high altar. Whether that was the original place of burial after his crucifixion or his remains were moved there before the first church was built (the current St. Peter’s Cathedral was built during the Renaissance over the site of a much smaller church), I’m not sure.
No Christian ever worshipped St. Peter. This is very badly worded. One prayed and may pray to St. Peter to ask for intercession with the Lord Jesus, but that is not worship.
Thanks for the informed post.
Hope just maybe ya taught more than just i something.
That’s gtreat Palter,
But it did nothing to answer anything.
St. Peter’s is built over the place where his bones were found. This site was outside of the walls and was at the edge of a Roman necropolis. The site was venerated by Christians although it was kept hidden and was initially marked only by a rock (Peter, or rock).
A church was built there in the 3rd century after the persecutions ceased and the spot has been accepted ever since as the burial site of St Peter, and different tombs and churches have been built over it through the centuries. The bones themselves seem to have been lost and found several times, and a big project was carried out in the 1940s to find and identify them. It was very secretive partly out of fear that Hitler would try to get hold of the bones.
The current St Peter’s was built in the 1500 and 1600’s. The tomb that is under the main altar now houses the bones of St. Peter, as identified in the 1950’s.
It’s worth a trip. If you ever go there, make sure you visit the Scavi (excavations) of the Roman necropolis that is right next and under St. Peter’s.
The excavations in the 1940s and 50s revealed some fascinating stuff. First, the church sits right on top of a 1st century necropolis/cemetery—filled with mostly pagan tombs. But in one area is the famous red wall, which has a structure built around 150 or so—this may be the “tropaion” or trophy/monument to the Apostles mentioned by a Roman clergyman, Gaius, as quoted in Eusebius. There is also other literary evidence that mentions the shrine having been developed around this time.
The cemetery was located on a hill, the top of which was sheared off in the 300s, and soil was also mounded up in places so that the Church’s altar could sit directly above one particular tomb—which Vatican officials were quick to identify—with good reason—as Peter’s tomb. There are inscriptions mentioning Peter in this general area, and if I remember right there were even fragments of purple-dyed “royal” cloth found in the space.
Basically, the architects in the time of Constantine (300s) had gone through *enormous* effort, including reconfiguring the whole hill, to locate the main altar directly above this one particular tomb.
Probably the basic tradition is correct—Peter died in Rome in the AD 60s and his remains were collected and deposited here in this tomb. The tomb was known and venerated by a select few, but because of persecution it wasn’t really advertised until the era of Constantine.
The march of technological progress has softened the will of man.
As a side note, the professor who taught the "Ancient Near East" course I took in college in the 70's used a modern translation of the Bible as his main text source. In spite of all the subsequent archaeology that verifies so much of it as historically accurate, I doubt whether he would be allowed to do that today.
The largest Christian church in the world is St. Peter’s Basilica, built over the tomb of St. Peter. St. Peter’s is not the cathedral church of Rome, St. John Lateran is. The term basilica refers to a church given special designation by the Pope.
The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is built over the burial place of St. Paul the Apostle.
Liberals are demons. Not all demons realize who they work for. Satan is the true head of the DNC.
I just finished a paperback book By Archbishop Timothy Dolan, called “To Whom Shall We Go? Lessons from the Apostle Peter” and it is a geat read if you love St. Peter, I highly recommend it. You will also see a side of Archbishop Dolan you would not expect, so open about his life and family. I loved pages 150-152 especially where he writes about how St. Peter asks to be upside down because he is not worthy of being crucified in the same manner of our Lord.