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Tomb of st. Peter

Tomb of st. Peter
February 10, 1939, died Pope Pius XI. In the vast St. Peter's Basilica in Rome gathered thousands of believers; in a single burst of mournful they prayed for the repose of the soul of the deceased pontiff, merged into one loud cry ...

At the same time, in the crypt, just under the nave of the cathedral, the work was in full swing. Workers uprooted marble slabs from the floor dungeon. They dug in the south wall, observing extreme caution. Had digged deep into the twenty centimeters, their spades again stumbled on the plate. Moreover, behind the wall, beneath which were excavated, it revealed a fairly large niche.

The workers know that St. Peter stands on stilts driven into the loose soil. Value to continue the excavations, because the result could upset the balance of the building? This team of workers "masons" was called here. Skills for reconstruction work in the Vatican, a huge historical museum, they took over from their ancestors. Some of them remember that their fathers and grandfathers, and great-grandparents were also "bricklayers". What led them to the Vatican dungeon in a day?

They were doing the will of the late Pope, whom the crowd of believers at this moment preparing to spend his last journey. Before it was opened by the will of Pius XI, written by his own hand. The Pope wrote that he was buried at the southern wall of the ancient cave near Pius X and as close as possible to the "confessional" St. Peter - that is, near the place where, according to tradition, the tomb of the Savior's first satellite.

When they read out the will of the deceased, managing director of the Church Cardinal Pacelli, who a few days later was destined to take the papal dignity under the name of Pius XII, ordered to prepare a burial in the specified location. After seeing the dungeon, architects Cardinal reported, even for one grave there is hardly enough room. However, the cardinal ordered to dig in the cave floor for the foundation wall and release thus the required space. His order immediately began to perform.

And "bricklayers" for some reason stopped working ... Next to them was a priest, and scrutinized the debris that workers with shovels scraped the surface. Priest of the name Ludwig Kae. He was German, had the title of doctor of theology and professor of church history. Once Pius XI commissioned him to explore the dungeon beneath St. Peter's Basilica. For several years, Kae inch by inch explore dungeons. He discovered the sarcophagus of the Roman prefect, interred in the 359 year, and the German Emperor Otto I, the Pope of the tomb of Hadrian IV of, a native of England, and Queen Christina of Sweden ... All they once wanted to find eternal peace near the place where they were hidden power the apostle Peter, the same Simon, the fisherman from Galilee, out of which one teacher called "stone" and said that the stone that he will build his church.

Kae immediately went to report the discovery of Cardinal Pacelli. Large niche discovered under the floor of the dungeon, all cleaned up at the thought that, if this is the tomb of St. Peter? After all, according to an ancient tradition, it is here, at the cathedral, under the slab covering the entrance to the "confession", the relics of the Apostle ...

The mystery of the tomb of the apostle Peter held the thoughts of Cardinal Pacelli throughout his life. When the conclave elected Pope Pacelli and called Pius XII, he went down to the cave of St. Peter, with his own eyes to look at the sacred plate. The newly elected pontiff thought a lot before making a final decision. Finally, after much thought he gave the order, which his predecessors were afraid and to think - he told to start excavations under the cathedral, where, according to his firm conviction that the tomb had to be Apostles.

Pius XII's decision was surprisingly bold: from a purely practical point of view, it should not have taken. Archaeologists expect the technical order of complexity: the excavation required the greatest caution, because even in 1822, when the next "confessional" installed Pius VI of marble monument, found that the drainage works may entail a violation of the delicate balance of the entire structure. What are the precautions then just did not resort!

But it all seemed a trifle compared with the main danger - and if there's nothing there? What if the excavations show that Saint Peter was never in the Vatican. What if as a result of the search will show up evidence completely denying the sacred legend?

None of these assumptions can not be rejected a priori. No - because there were historians who strongly denied that once Peter arrived in Rome, where he met his death ...

Peter was a disciple of Christ, one of his apostles who mourned the Son of man, and rejoiced when he was resurrected, appeared to them. Jesus left them only after Peter told of his great purpose and instructed him, "Feed my lambs ... Feed my sheep." The next day, after the Ascension, Peter took the reins of the church of Christ in their hands.

From the Gospel texts it is clear that Peter was the Apostles. Nevertheless, in the "Acts of the Apostles" Peter said about asceticism is not as detailed as we would like it. We read about the travels of Peter, how he carried the word of God to people. We learn of his arrest, when Herod Agrippa began to persecute Christians, fearing that their number is growing every day. However, the arrest of Peter's earthly journey has not ended. "When Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And the angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. The angel struck Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying:

"Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands. Coming out of prison, Peter thought that "a vision."

From further narrative we learn that Peter "went to another place." Apparently, as a refuge, he chose Antioch. However, it is recognized scientist Daniel Rops, "about the activities of Apostles, from the day he arrived in Antioch, we, unfortunately, almost nothing is known."

Unfortunate gap in the New Testament narrative allowed other writers to deny the fact that Peter was eventually settled in Rome. Comparing, however, some of the events and directions, it can be assumed that Peter was in Pontus, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Macedonia. In the middle of the II century Bishop Dionysius of Corinth claimed that his Church was founded by Peter and Paul. From Corinth, Peter, should be, and went to Rome. He lived nearly twenty-five years. Sometimes, though, he left Rome - particularly when several times traveled to Jerusalem. No doubt the fact that he accepted a martyr's death in Rome, consecrated great city with his blood. But is it possible on the basis of all this, to believe that Peter was buried in Rome is, moreover, in a special place? The main proof of residence of Peter in Rome could be the tomb. According to some claims, the tomb that was supposed to be in the Vatican.

Now it is clear to any serious risk decided to Pius XII. Suppose that the early Christians could not "accept" the body of Peter after his death. Let us assume that they had no choice but to check out the place of his execution and that they just put a monument to him. In this case, in the course of excavations, archaeologists, instead of the tomb of St. Peter, could easily stumble on any column or stele, which was marked the place of execution of the apostle. This - at first.

And secondly, the tomb of the apostle, though, archaeologists found it yet, could be empty. The fact is that in the early Middle Ages Rome was subjected to constant invasions. A Vatican Avrelianskoy was outside the walls and was subject to destruction more than the Eternal City itself. Given the terrible scourge, unless it was possible to hope that the Chief Apostle's tomb remained intact?

In addition, it is possible that the relics of St. Peter, after a brief stint at the Vatican, could be moved to another location ...

Thus, the excavations under the Vatican Council had very important. Their findings could help to strengthen or, on the contrary, weaken the authority of the pope and the church. If in the course of excavations under the Basilica of Constantine would have been found at least traces of the tomb of Peter, and at the same time it would be found that they relate to the year 258 or to an earlier period, it would have strengthened the position of the head of the Catholic Church as the successor of the first of the Apostles; but if, on the contrary, no trace could be found, the basis on which for centuries was based rule of the Bishop of Rome would have been shaken.

And Pius XII, thoroughly weighing all the "pros" and "cons", has decided to use to provide him with a chance ...

Plates that are "bricklayers" stumbled during excavations in the cave of the Vatican, were nothing more than a hollow first basilica built by the Emperor Constantine in the early IV century. According to tradition, the altar of the new basilica was standing just above the tomb of the Apostle.

In XVI- XVII centuries, the basilica of Constantine was destroyed, and in its place erected -The Cathedral, which survived until our days. The new altar placed on the site of the former and the floor cut through "the window" - "confession" through which believers could turn our gaze to the tomb of St. Peter, hidden deep underground. But who could know for certain, whether there are the relics of St. Peter, or they were not there?

Manual excavation dad laid on two Jesuits - and fathers Ferrua Kirschbaum, and two archaeologists lay - Apollonia Getty and Mr. Hoshi. Commission set to work, but then the war started. Almost six years it shook the world. However, at the Vatican, this oasis of peace, scientists persisted in his case. The excavations were carried out in total

of ten years ...

On the course of the excavations, no one knew anything. With the "masons" have a word about the work they will not talk to anyone, even with their household.

When the war ended, the world has learned only that the work is going on as usual. As the months passed, and the impatience of all increased. What kind of excavation? Why do they keep a secret? What are their results? In his public speeches, Pius XII, in a veiled form made it clear that the excavations have brought some "confidence." However, his speech full of innuendo does not live up to expectations nor scientists nor believers.

Finally in January 1952 he published a "Report on the excavations carried out in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome continuously from 1939 to 1949". It was a voluminous work in two volumes: the first volume includes 278 pages of text and 209 illustrations and diagrams; second volume consisted of 108 illustrations, and 103 of them were made phototype process.

About the excavations found the whole world. It was now possible to answer the question that agitated all: whether it was possible to find the tomb of St. Peter?

As soon as the price of enormous effort the researchers to delve deeper into the ground, they made amazing discoveries: search led them not to the fact that they were looking for.

Previously we believed that the southern wall of the cathedral walls rely on Nero's circus. It was believed that part of St. Peter stands on the very spot where Christians under Nero was executed and where, obviously, and Peter was crucified.

In fact, the excavations have revealed quite different. It turns out, the Basilica of Constantine was built not where Nero's Circus was first, and in the place where once was a cemetery - that's the most important discovery, which the researchers did. It's easy to understand the excitement of archaeologists when they penetrated into the cellar of the Basilica of Constantine, first stumbled upon one mausoleum, and then on the other - they are all standing in a row, forming a kind of underground suite, resembles a real street. Under the blows of spades and shovels from the darkness emerged a necropolis - a few dozen mausoleums, sarcophagi clay and stone vaults ... Little by little were able to determine the outlines and the cemetery area - it was the largest Roman necropolis of all, what ever unearthed by archeologists. Necropolis that was just under the nave of the cathedral.

In other mausoleums remarkably well preserved mosaics and frescoes. On the walls you can also make out the inscriptions, which are mainly and interested scientists. From the inscriptions it was clear that the tombs were intended mainly for the Gentiles, and only some of them lie the remains of the Christians. Consequently, they were buried here at the dawn of Christianity even before Constantine ordered to build a temple on the site; leaves, Christians have chosen a pagan cemetery as their final resting place. To do this, we needed a very good reason: perhaps part of the believers wanted to find eternal peace near the Apostles, close to Peter?

This question is, of course, asked themselves and archaeologists. Moreover, they found empty quadrangular space, which, as the report says, "with all sides surrounded the mausoleums and crypts, built at the beginning of our era so as not to capture him." This "empty space" is located just below the "confessional" St. Peter.

As we approach the enclosed space the number of graves increased. And in the immediate vicinity of the grave surrounded him virtually continuous ring. Around the mysterious grave rose a further barrier - "Red Wall" height of 2.5 meters, a thickness of 60 centimeters and a length of 7 meters. She protected the area of ​​a rectangle seven to three and a half meters. According to historian Nicholas Cort, who took part in the excavations, "it is said that at that time - at the end of the II century - the grave is no longer guarded, but still around her wanted to keep certain" sacred space. " Because the wall was dotted with Christian inscriptions, archaeologists have dubbed it "the wall of signs."

In the "red wall" three niches were found. One of them is underground and has been tiled in travertine Another was knocked right over it, at ground level, and is covered by a large limestone slab on top, the rear end which went deep into the wall, and the front was held at two elegant marble posts. Scientists have found that this design are the very "trophies of St. Peter", which at the end of II century priest Gaius mentioned - in other words, the tomb Apostles.

But still required to gather evidence and carefully check them for such a conclusion. Undoubtedly, the excavations have helped to understand counterintuitive choice of location for the construction of the Basilica of Constantine. This choice is difficult to explain in terms of the nature of the terrain - in fact the slope terrain here from north to south is 11 meters, while the next is completely flat area, which was once the Circus of Nero and where architects would not have to spend tremendous efforts for the construction of additional building sites and pile them support six-nine-meter height.

Excavations have shown that the laying of the foundation of the Basilica resulted in the partial destruction of the cemetery - had to pluck the mausoleums and crypts. And it was a sacrilege, which the Romans feared more than anything else. The ancient laws forbade to violate the peace of the dead under the most severe fear of punishment. It was only exercising its exclusive right to the emperor, Constantine was able to take on such a responsibility.

But why?

Jerome Karkopino answers this question as follows: "In all probability, Constantine could not freely choose the place for the construction of the basilica; in a sense, his will was subject to some kind of force, eludes logic, and even the interest of morals, a certain sense, has prevailed over reason. " This feeling is not difficult to understand: Constantine wanted basilica stood on the very spot where Peter was buried.

In the III century St. Cyprian gave anathema to Christians who, showing a weakness of spirit, buried their dead next to the Gentiles. However, in spite of everything, Christ's faithful Romans preferred to bury the dead is not "Christian" caves and pagan cemetery on the Vatican. So they had this kind of reason? Perhaps the reason for this lies precisely in the fact that it was here, on a pagan cemetery, lie the remains of Peter?

One Christian mausoleums was found a mosaic depicting a fisherman of Galilee - the same Cephas, which is called the Saviour to feed His sheep. And this mausoleum stood in what some fifteen meters away from "the enclosure" ... Moreover, in the "red wall", next to the niches, they found an inscription, which mentioned the name of Peter, written in Greek. However, as to the meaning of the following words of expert opinions diverged. J. Karkopino, for example, has deciphered the inscription as: "Peter was gone, Peter is no longer here," And Hoshi interpreted as follows: "Common, Peter!"

And in one of the mausoleums near "the enclosure" image of two heads were found crudely drawn with charcoal on top of each other. Next to the heads could be seen partially erased the Latin word - «PETRU ...», which took a clear relation to Peter. A few months later, these figures with the inscription investigated Ms. Carducci, an archaeologist of Rome. Here is how she described the second face: "The picture shows the completely bald old man covered with the wrinkles forehead, large eyes, sharply defined nose, wedge-shaped beard, a decreasing at the gate of his dress." But who is this man? "The answer to this question is contained in the label that is near the head - it starts with PETRU letters and ends on the right with the letter« S ». The inscription is made with red lead, and some of the letters, as you can see, were later outlined coal. "

Thus, the chronology of events can be easily restored. 67, Peter was put to death in the circus of Nero, and was buried at a nearby cemetery. From about 80 years of his tomb began to protect, as evidenced by an underground wall - Christians apparently bought the land, built around the tomb of Peter the stone wall. In the II century believers put the so-called "red wall". Finally, in 160 or 170, the construction of buildings, which is dubbed Guy "Peter's trophy" has been completed.

But on further developments among scientists disagree. Some of them believe that the power of the Chief Apostle never left the Vatican; others believe that in 258, they were transported to San Sebastian cave and back to the Vatican, they were taken only in the year 336. Since then, they apparently remained in the Vatican, as evidenced by the fact that both altars basil - early and late - were placed just above the "enclosure". Thus, the excavations in the cave of St. Peter confirmed the existing version.

But the question arises: the tomb of St. Peter found, but what happened to his power? That's what the "walled place," said the father in 1952 Ferrua: "We examined it inside and out, and found that this is the tomb of St. Peter, but, unfortunately, it was empty!"

Empty! However, not all scientists were pessimistic. for Catholicism history specialist Ruiskhart said: "In one of the niches of human remains have been found without the skull, and already the first medical examination showed that it is - the bones of one man, though elderly. The report of the remains is mentioned only in passing, it is accompanied by their photographs, however about who could belong to the remains of the tomb of the main, the report does not say a word. Of course, any scientific analysis requires extreme caution in judgment, but in the said report, it is not in sight, and it's no good. " According Ruiskharta, "there is every reason to believe that the remains found under the" red wall ", it belongs to the tomb of St. Peter, and they had never been abandoned."

A note J. Karkopino attracted recess in "marks the wall" perpendicular "red wall". The excavations revealed that this niche is neatly lined with marble tiles, went pretty deep into the wall. There, inside, human bones were found. Judging by the fact that they are hidden in a safe place so they were the relics, and once these relics walled up under the cathedral of St. Peter, which means they can only belong to St. Peter, and no one else. This cache was placed immediately after the Christian shrines, during the invasion of the Goths, were subjected to desecration.

So, the mystery solved?

There is every reason to believe that the tomb of the Apostle Peter found. Regarding the location of his relics, it can be assumed that these relics were walled up in the "wall signs," but the barbarians, ravaged everything in their path, stumbled on them and partly dispelled by the wind ...

... One day in June 1939, Pope Pius XII addressed in his thoughts to the "confessional" Saint Peter and make a responsible decision, "dig" to the truth, despite the fact that many would prefer to see the truth of this was surrounded by a veil of eternal mystery - because living was then would be a lot calmer ... I think that Pius XII died without heaviness heart - in the end he realized that all his life believed not in vain, and the answer to the question agitated him, he learned even before it got archaeologists.

Indeed, faith is often ahead of the science.

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