When commenting on the restoration of the Valerii Mausoleum, one of the most important monuments of the Roman necropolis located under the Vatican Basilica, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica, stated here that:
"We must make everyone understand that the basilica was not built here because of a whim, but because it has a history underneath that has been preserved, protected with extreme scruple, and it is the history of the Apostle Peter.
"Peter came to Rome...Here he met with martyrdom during Nero's persecution. Then he was taken by Christians, because Roman law allowed the recovery of bodies of the condemned to give them burial.
"Peter was brought to the point where at present the papal altar is erected. He was buried there and we can say that for 2,000 years, that site is the justification of the presence of the Bishop of Rome next to the tomb of Peter, that is, of the Pope."
Cardinal Comastri may say so, but we say that it is an outrageous lie, repeated so skilfully for so long, that it has become fact in the minds of those upon whom the Roman Catholic Church has preyed these many centuries.
"We can almost touch with our hand the tomb where the first Christians of Rome placed the body of the Apostle Peter," the Cardinal said, "One can see, extremely clearly, around the place of Peter's burial, a whole series of testimonies of devotion to the apostle in that precise point, for example, the most famous inscription in Greek: "Petros eni" (Here is Peter)."
The facts are that, beyond what is recorded in the New Testament, the Roman Catholic Church knows nothing whatever about Peter. If any bones indeed lie under the Basilica, they are not those of Peter the apostle.
Consider the mutually exclusive terms in this statement from the Catholic Encyclopaedia article St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles:
"It is an indisputably established historical fact that St. Peter laboured in Rome during the last portion of his life, and there ended his earthly course in martyrdom. As to the duration of his Apostolic activity in the Roman Capital, the continuity or otherwise of his residence there, the details and success of his labours, and the chronology of his arrival and death, all these questions are uncertain, and can be solved only on hypotheses more or less well-founded. The essential fact is that Peter died at Rome: this constitutes the historical foundation of the claim of the Bishops of Rome to the Apostolic Primacy of Peter."
An authoritative Roman Catholic textbook, A Popular History of the Catholic Church by the acclaimed Church historian Msgr. Philip Hughes, has this to say on the subject of Peter's residence in Rome:
"...The precise date at which the Roman Church was founded we do not know, nor the date at which St. Peter first went to Rome. But it is universally the TRADITION of this primitive Christianity that St. Peter ruled the Roman Church and that at Rome he gave his life for Christ in the persecution of Nero." (p14)
Hughes goes on:
"...About the origins of Christianity in Rome we KNOW NOTHING. It is already a flourishing church in 56 AD when St. Paul refers to it. Three years later he arrived in Rome himself, a prisoner, for the hearing of his appeal to Caesar." (p17)
"...St. Peter first appeared there APPARENTLY some three years later, about the time St. Paul, acquitted, had left the city." (p18)
According to Hughes then, Peter's arrival in Rome took place no earlier than 62 AD although the Catholic Encyclopaedia's Official Pope List boldly states that Peter's "bishopric" extended from 32AD to 67AD.
Contrast also Hughes' use of the words "tradition" and "apparently" with the unequivocal assertions of the Roman Catholic Encyclopaedia:
"...the historical foundation of the claims of the Bishops of Rome...among the best ascertained facts in history."
We say that the claim of Peter's bones resting in Rome is an outrageous and deliberate lie which, fortunately, is also outrageously simple to demolish, as we have seen in our Apostolic Succession series. Which begs the question...why is this lie almost universally accepted without reservation?