For the first time and to coincide with the end of the Year of Faith, the Vatican is to put on public display the relics of St. Peter.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, announced the Vatican’s plans in a Nov. 8 article in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.
Recalling how many pilgrims have made a pilgrimage to the tomb of Peter during the Year of Faith, he said that a “final culminating sign will consist of the exposition for the first time what tradition recognises as the relics of the apostle who gave his life for the Lord.”
“Peter's faith, therefore, will confirm once again that the door to meeting Christ is always open and waiting to be passed through with the same enthusiasm and conviction of the early believers,” the archbishop continued. “It is a journey that Christians today know they must follow tirelessly, strengthened and reassured by the contemplation of the face of Christ.”
The tomb of St. Peter is located in the Vatican necropolis – the so-called ‘Scavi’ – under the main altar of the Vatican basilica. It was excavated in the 1940s and after detailed testing, Pope Paul VI verified them as St. Peter's relics. The ‘Scavi Tour’ has long been a very popular attraction at the Vatican.
The bones of St. Peter have always been kept in the grotto of the basilica and never placed on public display.
Archbishop Fisichella did not say exactly when or how the relics will be displayed but that it will happen before the Year of Faith concludes on November 24, the feast of Christ the King.