Any Monty Python Fan would recognize that line from “Monty Python and The Holy Grail”.  But in real life, who would ever want to see a bunch of bones?  Apparently the Vatican thinks a great number of people would.  On November 24th, which marked the end of the Year of Faith, Pope Francis allowed the reported remains of St. Peter to be placed on public display for the first time ever.

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Tradition holds that St. Peter was martyred by being crucified upside down in Rome in AD 64, and then buried within the city. It is believed that he said he was not worthy of the same death as our Lord, hence his decision to be placed upside down on the cross.

Over the subsequent years, hundreds of Christians flocked to the grave site to honor the Apostle Peter and Christianity’s first pope. In AD 330, Emperor Constantine decided to build a basilica over the site.

In 1939, Pope Pius XII allowed an archeological dig to be performed under the Basilica during which a grave monument was discovered directly under the altar with the words “Petros eni” written on the outside.  This is Greek for “Peter is within”. Examination has shown the bones to be from a 5’7” man of heavy build and approximately of 60 – 70 years of age which is consistent with the traditional description of Peter.  While no Pope has ever definitively declared the bone fragments belong to St. Peter, Pope Paul VI in 1968 said they were, “identified in a way that we can consider convincing.”

A Christian’s veneration of the bones evoke spiritual awe and devotion to the origins of Christianity, regardless of their actual provenance.