Tuesday, April 7, 2015

St. Peter’s Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found…and Then Lost and Found Again by Thomas J. Craughwell

I am curious about religious relics since I have a protestant background and converted to Catholicism twenty plus years ago. What relics would be more prized than our first pope’s St. Peter? This is a mystery woven with history and integrated with archeology and technical advances. St. Peter’s Bones takes the reader on a journey to discover the relics of St. Peter and the difficulties that have arisen over the years in validation of these artifacts. Interwoven in these pages are stories of explorers and Popes as well as skeptics and believers. The story begins with Pope Pius XII in the 1940’s and ends up in 2004 with statements by George Weigel. Within this time period is the announcement in 1968 by Pope Paul VI of the finding of St. Peter’s Bones. Our technology has advanced during this time period to include carbon dating, but this does not turn out to be the answer to the mystery anticipated. Many of the characters in the book are concerned about reverence for burial places and making available the human remains for testing. I have learned more about archeology than I ever thought I would. Craughwell adds very specific details of the archeological search which add to the mystery as the story unfolds. St. Peter’s Bones tells the life story of Peter in real time when he walked the earth in each chapter then the author integrates the modern day archeological search. I would recommend this book to you, the reader. Craughwell expresses his love for his subject as he carries you through the journey and mystery of first century Christians and the importance of Christian relics as they help to form our faith. I have a new found appreciation for veneration of relics and why they are important to our faith history. The growth of Christianity throughout the world has been reliant on this practice and has enhanced the reality of Christian history.

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