(CNA/EWTN News) — During routine restoration of a nearly 1,000-year-old church, a worker discovered bone fragments in clay pots – which may belong to St. Peter, three other popes, and four early Church martyrs.
“There were two clay pots which were inscribed with the names of early popes – Peter, Felix, Callixtus and Cornelius,” the worker told Italian television channel Rai Uno, according to the Telegraph.
“I’m not an archaeologist but I understood immediately that they were very old. Looking at them, I felt very emotional.”
The existence of the bone fragments has been known for centuries, but they had never been found. Inside the church of Santa Maria in Cappella, a stone inscription recorded the remains, indicating that the relics where kept alongside a piece of fabric taken from the dress of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Due to structural problems, the church has been closed for 35 years. As part of routine maintenance, the worker discovered the bones under a marble slab behind the altar.
The worker then notified Deacon Massimiliano Floridi, who handed the remains over to the Vatican. Church officials have not yet commented on the bones’ authenticity.
“We’re waiting for a detailed study to be undertaken. A DNA comparison between these bones and those kept by the Vatican would shed light on the issue,” the deacon said.
Santa Maria Church in Cappella is located in the district of Trastevere, Rome, near the Tiber River. Consecrated in 1090 by Pope Urban II, the church is home to many other historical and artistic treasures, including ceramics and murals dating back to the fourth century.
The church also includes a fragment of the episcopal chair, which was once a temporary seat of the Papal Consistory – a formal gathering of the College of Cardinals as called by the pope.
Some have theorized that the relics were moved to the church for protection under the rule of Pope Urban II. During a schism, the legitimacy of Pope Urban II was challenged by Clement III, who was an anti-pope backed by Emperor Henry IV.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
or by credit card: