Relics believed to be the bones of St Peter are to be put on public display for the first time.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella said they would go on show on 24 November in an article in the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.
“The culminating sign [of the year] will be the exposition for the first time of the relics traditionally recognised as those of the apostle who gave his life for the Lord here,” the Vatican official said in reference to St Peter.
He added that Pope Francis would celebrate Mass on the day at the Vatican.
The relics were found in a necropolis under St Peter's Basilica that was excavated in the 1940s.
The Catholic Herald said the bones had not been formally declared authentic by a pope. However in 1968, Pope Paul VI said they had been “identified in a way which we can hold to be convincing” after scientific tests were carried out.
According to an article by Margherita Guarducci on the St Peter’s Basilica’s website, the researchers established the bones belonged to a man of “sturdy build” and aged between 60 and 70 – consistent with the martyred saint.
Ms Guarducci said it was believed the bones had been found in the fourth century and had been wrapped in rich cloth, remnants of which were found. They were placed in a marble-lined niche in a wall in a monument to St Peter that was erected at the same time and had lain undisturbed since then.
“The cloth of purple interwoven with gold-thread in which the bones were wrapped at that time confirms the highest dignity then attributed to the remains,” she said. “The royal purple harmonises perfectly in fact with the royal porphyry which decorates the outside of the monument.”
She said this and other factors led to the conclusion that “the bones of Peter have been identified”.Reuse content