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Rome Reports

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What Pope Francis' actions prove about the importance of St. Peter

On his return from World Youth Day in Poland. Pope Francis made a comment about how regardless who the pope is, Peter will be at the next World Youth Day in Panama in 2019.  

"No, no. I may not go. Peter will go. Whomever."  

The current successor does not take his job lightly or forget the roots from where the papal lineage has descended. As a result, one of the first actions Pope Francis took when he became pope was making a visit to the bones of St. Peter, buried below St. Peter's Basilica.  

LAURA DONATO
Archeological Guide St. Peter's Tomb

"It was the first thing that he did when he became Pope. Because on April 1, 2013, he wanted to go to St. Peter's tomb to pray, so [he went] immediately.

"He went with reverence, praying and respecting the evidence archeologists have that these bones could be the bones of St. Peter".  

Pope Francis descended below three layers of altars, built by late popes, to the Clementine Chapel. This small chapel is where the relics of St. Peter were venerated in ancient times, and are still housed today through the altar.  

LAURA DONATO
Archeological Guide St. Peter's Tomb

"In Matthew's Gospel, we can read that Jesus chose Peter like his successor, 'You are Peter and upon this rock, I will build my Church'. For this reason the popes are considered successors of Peter. And Peter's tomb is so important for all Catholic people.2  

Since Pope Francis has proven that he is a pope of action, he wanted to lead by example as he started his next role as pope. While there are hundreds of saintly relics throughout Rome, he specifically chose to visit those of St. Peter.   

LAURA DONATO
Archeological Guide St. Peter's Tomb


"The relics have this importance, the possibility to show that we are talking about the real and historical faith. Faith has its roots in history. We don't talk about mythological tales, but real historical events and the showing of the bones is the proof of this historical evidence.2  

On November 24, 2013, during the closing Mass for the "Year of Faithâ?, Pope Francis put the bones on display for the whole world to see for the first time and later prayed with the box of relics in his hands. Undoubtably, this act coincided with and concluded the "Year of Faithâ? in a profound way.  

It also gives Christians and non-believers, alike, an excuse to make a pilgrimage to Rome to see the bones for themselves.