In this fascinating account of the search for the remains of the world’s first pope, none other than Peter, the chief apostle of Jesus, Thomas J. Craughwell takes us on one of the most exciting archaeological finds of the twentieth century.
In 1448 a team of architects and engineers brought Pope Nicholas V unhappy news: the 1,100-year-old Basilica of St. Peter suffered from so many structural defects that it was beyond repair. The only solution was to pull down the old church–one of the most venerable churches in all of Christiandom–and erect a new basilica on the site. Incredibly, one of the tombs the builders paved over was the resting place of St. Peter.
Then in 1939, while reconstructing the grottoes below St. Peter’s Basilica, a workman’s shovel struck not dirt or rock but open air. After inspecting what could be seen through the hole they’d made in the mausoleum’s roof, Pope Pius XII secretly authorized a full-scale excavation. What lay beneath? The answer and the adventure await. In this riveting history, facts, traditions, and faith collide to reveal the investigation, betrayals, and mystery behind St. Peter’s burial place.
Thomas J. Craughwell is author of more than two dozen books. Among them are Saints Behaving Badly (Doubleday, 2006), Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics (Image, 2011), and Stealing Lincoln's Body (Harvard University Press, 2007), which was adapted into a History Channel documentary. His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Inside the Vatican, and Our Sunday Visitor. A popular speaker, Craughwell has lectured for Catholic Courses, and has appeared on EWTN, CNN, and Ave Maria radio to discuss saints, the canonization process, and Catholic history. He writes out of his home in Bethel, Connecticut.
It’s a thriller, a whodunit, and an adventure, full of clues, codes, false trails, professional envy, whiffs of conspiracy, and heroic mercy. And it’s all true! Thomas Craughwell has delivered an historical account that’s breathtaking, page-turning, and inspiring.
- Mike Aquilina, Executive Vice-President, St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and author, The Fathers of the Church
Religious legends sometimes have a funny way of turning out to be true. For many years, scholars believed that the ‘five porticoes’ in a healing story of Jesus in Jerusalem were just a pious legend–until archeologists unearthed a site with ‘five porticoes,’ just as the Gospels had said. The remarkable story of the supposedly ‘legendary’ remains of St. Peter’s, and how they were found exactly where the ‘legends’ had them, is a fascinating one, especially in the hands of a gifted writer like Thomas Craughwell. His new book should give pause to all those who would dismiss similar stories as ‘merely legendary.'
- James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints
Craughwell is one of our very best storytellers. In book after book, he makes history come alive. As I expected, St. Peter’s Bones does not disappoint. It’s amazing how Tom is able to tell a sweeping, important story in so compact a package. Highly recommended!
- Jon M. Sweeney, author of The Pope Who Quit and Francis of Assisi in HIs Own Words