From the Holy Grail to the Holy City

(Revised in October, 2019)

There is only one way to make sure we are not on a wild goose chase: We must leave the Pyrenees behind and visit the Lion's Den, the Vatican, to check if Peter's skull and crossbones are missing from his tomb. A difficult task it would seem, because there are no historical records of Peter's martyrdom and burial in Rome. Only a fool would search for facts in matters of faith, but it doesn't really matter for fools like us if these are really Peter's bones, in the cave and at the Vatican, because we are after grail secrets! Foreign visitors to our website need to know that it's a Western tradition that St Peter's Basilica is built over his remains. It's one of the reasons the Vatican is in Rome – and not in Jerusalem. Here's an update [1] of its official position in 2003:

"You are Peter and on this rock I will build my community" (Mt 16:18). Peter is the rock on which Christ established his Church...  In the Vatican Grottoes, on a perfect axis with the papal altar of the basilica above, lies the tomb of Peter. The tomb is itself a symbol of the Rock on which the Church is built, a Church symbolized by the basilica that rises above the Tomb of the Apostle and encloses it like a precious casket..."

Anyone familiar with the subject notices how this version downplays Peter's grave because the entire basilica is now his "precious casket"! Is this the first clue that we are on the right track? Foreign visitors might think it would be difficult to question the raison d'être of the Vatican but it is surprisingly easy! By starting with Michael Winter's book St Peter and the Popes in the 1980's it took less than an hour at the library to get results, and it can be googled in a few minutes! Yes, we are free to do today what used to guarantee the ultimate penalty! Take the unfortunate Giordano Bruno, for example, who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and suffered a fiery death at the stake in Rome on February 17, 1600.  Kepler's letters express his shock – and Pujades seems to have gotten even more motivated!

Today, the information is widely available that secret excavations under St Peter's Basilica were conducted under pope Pius XII in the 1940's – which he may have cherished as a distraction from the holocaust and the nasty business of war. But the results caused him some chagrin, at least, because Toynbee-Perkins revealed in 1956 [2]:

Peter's tomb is empty!

But some "reburied bones" were found nearby, "of a person of

advanced age and a powerful physique... the skull is missing ".

 

The skull is missing? It looks like Pujades was right again, but it is strange that the Vatican would admit this openly. By the time WWII broke out, "fishers of men" had become "shepherds of their flocks" and wore fancy garments to perform their rituals. But their pope Pius XII faced a major challenge in the 1940s, a blood-thirsty pagan cult with thousands of fanatics waving red flags in unison, worshiping an ancient cross during staged spectacles, and threatening to replace Christianity. Perhaps the option that the "reliquiae insignes" of St Peter are no longer in Rome anticipated a move to another country? As odd as this seems today, it may have been something the pope had to consider when he negotiated with the Nazis. But that's for future historians to sort out! Because the news of the missing skull is a quote from a quote, we had to check the sources before getting too excited: We noticed the odd coincidence that while the Führer and Duce were collaborating above ground, the cheerful German Engelbert Kirschbaum S.J., pictured at left, and the Italian Antonio Ferrua S.J. worked together in the Vatican's underground. The following close-up is from Kirschbaum's book Die Gräber der Apostelfürsten [3] and shows the triangular niche in the Red Wall where he discovered the "reburied bones". The picture is deceiving because only a few bones are exposed, but they were originally about 30 cm under the ground, deep enough to remain concealed for centuries. Due to the sensational nature of his find, and because the Vatican will deny it decades later, we should study carefully what a Jesuit priest claimed over half a century ago:   

"The empty chamber, as it now is, is the setting of a grave, the material remains of which have disappeared. This bare burial place is all that is left to us of the grave of the apostle Peter...  A heap of bones was found, as if expressly concealed in the earth, beneath the Red Wall, at the spot where its foundations show a triangular break. They lay in a heap, and to a depth roughly, of 30 centimeters. These bones are not remains from different graves gathered together but, in the judgment of experts, they form the skeleton of a single man, and more precisely of an elderly but powerful man. (p.91)

...we know the situation of the grave more fully. A small heap of bones was discovered beneath the lowest niche of the Red Wall. They were therefore in the area of the ancient central grave, which we have identified as that of the apostle; only this position, which presupposes some human intervention, is somewhat higher than the grave itself must have been. In the entire area beneath the Pallia Niche there are no remains of human skeletons...

It might be surmised that scattered remains had at one time been collected and placed beneath the Red Wall. In that case, an anatomical investigation would have showed that they belonged to different skeletons. Medical examination, however, gave the contrary verdict, i.e., that all bones belonged to one and the same person. That person was further described as an elderly and vigorous man. The skull is missing. (p. 195)

The translation is by John Murray, another Jesuit, but if you are fluent in German, you should read the original from 1957 because Murray fails to capture Kirschbaum's eloquence and style [4]. The empty tomb was a shocking discovery because it would have shaken the foundations of the Church in the Middle Ages when it worked so hard to establish the supremacy of the bishops of Rome. If Charlemagne had known, he would have torn off the crown that made him emperor. This could have prevented the bloody crusades, even the Albigensian against so-called "heretic" Christians and, of course, the fiery death of Giordano Bruno. No wonder Nietsche said Wissen ist Macht!

In the 20th century, the loss of Peter's relics had no longer the impact of a major earthquake, especially when some brilliant minds are put to work for debriefing and damage control. They could diffuse the problem to a minor aftershock! The Vatican had become a rich and powerful, and its community obedient and faithful: Good Roman catholics seek salvation in the word of God, the pope is their mediator and without fault, and the exact number of bones in or near the tomb is no longer relevant. It's the tomb itself, empty or not, that matters now! On the other hand, if we were to excavate our cave in the Pyrenees and retrieve Peter's skull, the news would hit the Vatican like a bombshell and the celebrations last for decades. A good idea to pursue that trail a bit longer! How did the Vatican achieve this amazing U-turn?  Here's an example: this writer visited "Saint Peter and the Vatican, The Legacy of the Popes" in San Diego, California, in 2003. Surprisingly, the advertised "recreation of St Peter's tomb" revealed nothing about Peter's remains and created the illusion that nothing has changed. A large, illustrated book with 521 pages of the exhibit in splendid colors was for sale – including photos of the cap and cape of Pope Pius XII – but only the last sentence on p. 187 mentions the relics:   

"Within the graffiti wall was a cavity where, according to Margherita Guarducci, the relics of Peter were kept after they had been removed from the grave below."

It's no longer Kirschbaum's triangular gap in the Red Wall, but a cavity in a "graffiti wall," which implies lots of traffic, and the simple Peter minimizes even further. There is the casual comment that the relics were kept there "after they had been removed" and no reference to the missing skull. Very interesting! The bones were put by whom into a cavity? The Vatican quotes a woman and makes sure it is her opinion. No Chauvinism here!

Because the above quote confirmed in 2003 that Peter's relics were "removed", we visited Rome to find out what really happened to the skull and bones. We had a nice chat with the Swiss guard in German, at the entry to the tomb near Nero's circus where the obelisk from Heliopolis used to be before it was moved to Peter's square. Small, elect groups of 12 visitors assemble there for a private tour of the necropolis.  Only if you have reservations will the guards let you pass to witness how experts of the "ufficio scavi" debrief the faithful – underplaying their lines like New York method actors before they lead them underground. Half a century after the excavations, Peter's "empty tomb" is no longer an item, the whole basilica is now his casket! We acted like dumb tourists and threw Kirschbaum's "reburied bones" into the exclusive round and got a delayed reaction from the female guide, a shrug and a dismissive hand gesture, followed by comments like: "The pope had the relics for a while – in his private chapel – they were taken home in paper bags by the German Kaas – the workers handled them daily – they included bones of a mouse and pigs – even of a women."

Isn't this amazing? We would expect this kind of debriefing in a Hollywood movie – but at the Vatican? Bones of animals and a woman? Did we come to the right place? Isn't this the Holiest of Holies, the venerated Shrine of Saint Peter, the tomb of the Apostle upon whom the succession of every pope is based? The "rock" upon Jesus built his Church? What happened to the Vatican's official report of 1951, which confirmed Kirschbaum's discovery?  

You can google Margherita Guarducci and visit this modern Inferno of fact and fiction yourself. A good start is her comprehensive study at this link, but you'll have to face some tough questions, many of which you can only ask yourself. The Jesuits are soldiers of Christ who exchanged the sword for a pen, a noble idea basically that was born at Montserrat! But it also means that they will write with a poisoned pen to protect their Lord and God!  (We had a good example with Burke-Gaffney's attacks on Kepler). What it means is that Kirschbaum either "cleaned up" the archeological report with the best of intentions and plainly lied about everything – or that he was the last to tell the truth. We know since O.J. Simpson how easily the evidence at a "crime scene" is tainted! In the case of Peter's bones, every bit of information taints the excavations of the tomb: Several people handled the bones and stored them in different places, and carried them around in paper bags. The pope was personally involved, and his close friend Mgr Kaas on a daily basis. Then there is a confused worker who remembers white bones, like in our picture – yet most bones are dark. Is this the "Kaaba effect" or were the Italian workers chain-smoking while handling the relics? Not to speak of too many male bones for one person, making him an "octopus", with bones of a female and all those animal bones that suddenly surfaced! A reputable archeologist would throw his arms up and run away. 

Interesting stuff, actually! It's like a magic show in Las Vegas, with a bit of mind control. Cirque du Soleil performed by pious padres, with lots of bone juggling, flying pigs, and even a boney girl. This tells us that an organization, which is known to be extremely secretive and absolutely brilliant in covering anything up, decided to leak all that scandalous trivia to make us overlook the missing skull! They even have a detour with "proof" for skeptics that Paul's and Peter's skulls were separated from their bones to promote the relics cult.

Now that eighty years have passed, the desinformation seems to succeed. The most eloquent revisionist is currently John O'Neill, who wrote in 2018 "The Fisherman's Tomb, the True Story of the Vatican's Secret Search".  He is a Roman Catholic lawyer in New York and dying of cancer, which he announces in the foreword to solicit compassion for himself and Pius XII. Allegedly, the pope couldn't pay his workers and a rich Texas oil man stepped in to finance the project, anonymously of course. O'Neill claims also that the inexperienced Kaas supervised and the equally inexperienced archeologist Ferrua "maneuvered his way onto the excavation team and soon assumed practical control of it." He dismisses Kirschbaum, although professor of Christian archeology, as too "good-natured" and goes on to feature the "Ferrua team" from then on. He fails to mention that both were Jesuits, as it would weaken his case, and then reduces the role of Kaas even more by claiming that the operation was run by an "outside team" headed by Montini, the future pope Paul VI, with the help of  two American priests whom O'Brian labels "The Three Amigos" over several chapters, which reads like a sick man's effort to entertain. (Much more entertaining is St. Peter's Bones, How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found... and Then Lost and Found Again by Thomas J. Craughwell, who also wrote Saints Behaving Badly). Back to O'Neill, who is trying to establish a rift between Kaas and Kirschbaum, which would allow the devout lawyer to raise the "brilliant, real-life archeological genius" of Professor Margherita Guarducci above them and cover up that she recycled Peter's bones and got credited by Paul VI for their discovery. 

The most valuable source for this foreign intrigue is a book by John E. Walsh [5], another New Yorker. He deals with the controversies like a reporter, narrates Kirschbaum's role as leading archeologist like a novelist, and pretends to accept the Vatican's positions as he drops a few 'bomb shells' here and there. We learn that emperor  Constantine "took a symbolic part in the work, going so far as to carry on his shoulders twelve baskets of earth-fill, one for each of the apostles," and goes on to ask: "Did Constantine have the grave opened, did he personally look on the body of Peter? Nothing of this is known with certainty, yet there is evidence – disputed though it may be – that he not only opened the grave but also provided a sumptuous new sarcophagus of bronze, probably lined with gold, for the remains..." This adds suspense to his final chapter "The Ancient Silence" about the Vatican's claim that Peter's relics remained allegedly hidden since the 4th century. He usually lets Guarducci speak for herself and remains neutral about the political career of Monsignor Kaas and intimate friendship with nuncio Pacelli, later pope Pius XII. As a churchman and active politician during the Weimar Republic, Kaas had supported Pacelli and helped arrange the Reichskondordat which had the unintended side effect that it facilitated Hitler's rise to power. This photograph shows three of our protagonists at the Vatican when it was signed for pope Pius XI in 1933. Ludwig Kaas is at the far left in the foreground, Pacelli in the middle, and Giovanni Montini, the future pope Paul VI, standing in the wings at right.

 

The Search for Peter's Tomb

As we follow the clues of Walsh, our detective story begins with an accident in 1594 "while some reconstruction was in progress near the high altar. A large piece of masonry broke from the top of a pillar, plummeted down, and smashed against an undetermined part of the shrine (the documents merely mention a vague 'floor'). The impact produced a jagged crack, and some workmen gazing in wonder through the slim opening were dazzled, as they later claimed, by the sight of a golden cross. Pope Clement, hastily informed of the damage to the shrine, immediately ordered the crack closed with cement. Further work in the vicinity was forbidden. No proof exists that the men actually saw a golden cross, but that the shrine once included such a rare ornament was a tradition well known to the excavators.When first erected in the fourth century, the monument received from St. Helena, mother of Constantine, a sumptuous gift consisting of a kingly crown and an oversize cross, both made of pure gold".

According to Walsh: "The second glimpse into the tomb took place at the end of the nineteenth century when the Jesuit Hartmann Grisar, prompted by the development of the electric light, was permitted to try an experiment." Grisar (1845-1932) argued "if Peter's tomb existed, it would not have been forgotten, and if it didn't exist, it would not have been invented" [6], and is regarded as the Indiana Jones among the Jesuits. In the chapel of the Lateran, where the popes used to reside before moving to the Vatican, he discovered a hidden wooden chest and some shelves with ancient relics. As it is the Sancta Sanctorum where the skulls of Peter and Paul were allegedly kept at times, we can easily imagine what attracted him to Peter's grave.

Walsh continues that Grisar found in a little niche below the altar of St Peter Basilica a "tiny hinged door which opened on a small vertical shaft" and "let down a feeble electric light. At a depth of about fifteen feet the light stopped... No object was discernible in the dim circle of light, no gleam of metal. What the chamber might contain, what part of the original grave it represented, or if indeed it bore any connection with the grave at all, Grisar had found it impossible to say."

Hence, Grisar may have inspired Kaas and Pius XII, because Kirschbaum reveals in the introduction of his book that "no Pope had ever ventured to start excavations under the Confessio at St Peter's", and that "One of the many courageous changes of the pontificate of Pius XII was the break with this medieval tradition... We know from His Holiness's own statement that, even as Cardinal Secretary of State and Archpriest of St Peter's, he had already entertained the wish to initiate investigations with modern resources... The opportunity was provided by the extension of St Peter's crypt or the so-called 'Grottoes', carried through by Mgr Ludwig Kaas, then director of the Reverenda Fabbrica of St Peter's." He goes on to say: "The direction of the operations was in the hands of Mgr Kaas, and a large measure of the success of this difficult undertaking, especially during the war, is to be attributed to his remarkable adroitness and perseverance".

Kirschbaum became director of the Roman Institute of the Görres-Gesellschaft in 1949, which published his vita. It reveals that Kaas chose him for the excavations because of their "close relationship" and that the work occurred "especially in 1941-1942" [7]. This early date is confirmed by Guarducci, who writes that the empty tomb was found "around 1941" [8].

The shocking discovery that Peter's tomb had been plundered and severely damaged was obviously a great disappointment for Kaas and his friend pope Pius XII. There was neither a golden cross or crown, not even a bronze casket lined with gold! To reduce the impact on his readers, Kirschbaum covers the search for the tomb in the first part of his book until he gets to the "reburied bones" under the Red Wall on p. 91 without bringing up the missing skull. He postpones the violent destruction of the gravesite until p. 162, and the missing skull until p. 191 [9]. This indicates that the pope needed an explanation for the shocking news and may have only then decided to include Ferrua, Josi, and Apollonj-Ghetti. We learn from Walsh [10] that Pius XII had his physician recruit a few medical experts to examine the bones and that they concluded after several months that "the bones belonged to one and the same person... an elderly and vigorous man," which he accepted as evidence that Peter's relics may have been found.

As WWII exploded around the Vatican, Kirschbaum's excavations were probably suspended around 1942. Because the discovery of reburied bones without Peter's skull would have started a major controversy, the pope seems to have decided to never make it public. But after seven years of silence, the Vatican's greatest secret was leaked to Camille Cianfarra [11] of the New York Times and made the headlines on Aug. 22, 1949:

The article is dated Rome, Aug. 7, which indicates that the editors gave the Vatican an opportunity to include its official position. Cianfarra reports that the bones of St Peter seem to have been found, and that the archeologists "have taken an oath of secrecy and are therefore forbidden to either confirm or deny the discovery", which officials have described "as the most important discovery yet made to the history of the origins of Christianity in the West". Mgr Kaas is identified as in charge of the project, and on p. 3 (see link), aside from detailed diagrams, the archeologists Enrico Josi, Antonio Ferrua, and Engelbert Kirschbaum who were appointed by Pius XII to conduct the excavations. There is neither a reference to the reburied bones nor to the missing skull, only the claim that Peter's remains were found in a "terra cotta urn" in 1947, which reduced the impact of the article. In addition to being off by 6 years, the Vatican announces that "The bones are being preserved in an urn closely guarded by Pope Pius XII himself, in the private chapel next to his study." Although it is extremely strange that the pope admits to keeping St Peter's precious relics in his apartment, we will show below that it was for good reasons because Giovanni Montini had other plans for them! Furthermore, the Vatican intends to submit the secret report about the project to several international archeologists, and this "neutral" committe will be enabled to investigate the findings on site, all of which the pontiff is expected to announce on Dec. 24, when he inaugurates the Holy Year of 1950.

The Secret Report was delivered in two volumes to Pius XII on Dec. 19, 1951. The pope asked Mgr Kaas to write the foreword and distribute copies to the "neutral committe" [12]. The eminent British archeologists Jocelyn Toynbee and John Ward Perkins [13] responded with a detailed evaluation in 1956, which anticipated some of Kirschbaum's findings in the following year. They established that the spot under the Red Wall, where the "reburied bones" were found, is in the center of Peter's gravesite, the Aedicula (trophy), and less than a metre from the Graffiti Wall, but that its marble encased loculus (cavity) is almost two metres higher, of which almost a metre was above the ground. Toynbee-Perkins write also that "the excavators found a number of reburied bones, which they state categorically to be human... For reasons that are by no means clear, no detailed report has yet been issued about these bones, and all the information we have about them at present is the further statement by one of the excavators that a preliminary examination has shown them to be those of a person of advanced age and powerful physique; the sex, it seems, cannot be determined, and the skull is missing..." They add in note 16: "In view of the importance of every scrap of evidence from a cite of this complexity, it seems strange that no authorative medical analysis of these bones has been published either in the official Report or during the four years that have elapsed since the work appeared." We also learn that the information about the missing skull comes from one of the excavators, which shows that it was excluded from the Report.

Furthermore, the British experts question why the Report describes a "box-like receptacle" in the Graffiti Wall, yet fails to discuss its purpose [14]. They add that it is "made up of thin slabs of marble let into the northern face of the buttressing-wall, g, about 80 centimetres above ground-level. It is later than the grafitti, which it cuts through, but earlier than the Constantine shrine, by the north wall of which it was sealed into place..." They point out that the graffiti on the wall "strangely fail... to mention St. Peter by name" and that the Chi-Rho monogram as an abbreviation of Christ's name is featured everywhere, and conclude: "About the loculus we must be content to say that it must have been cut to contain some object which the builders of the Constantine shrine wished to preserve, in perpetuity, in close association with the remains of St. Peter. What that object was we shall probably never know." [15]

 

The lost cave in the Pyrenees

In our opinion, the open question gives the chronicle of Sant Pere de Rodes, located on the above Mont Verdera, substantial credibility because a sacred vessel would be the ideal object for the loculus[16]. Pope Boniface VI had allegedly sent churchmen with the skull of St Peter and a vessel with Christ's blood in 608 CE to the Pyrenees and had them hidden in a cave because the Romans felt threatened by an attack of the Persians, see link.

A few centuries later, the priors began to claim that the altar of the monastery is built over this cave, which rewarded them with bulls from half a dozen popes, beginning with Urban II, who allowed them to dispense indulgences equal to St Peter in Rome. Consequently, the monastery became the wealthiest in north-eastern Spain, until it was partially destroyed during several wars with France. The Duke of Noailles removed most of its library in 1708, followed by sacks in 1726 and 1731, and its occupation in 1793 when the French destroyed its furniture and the remaining, religious objects in a bond fire. It was abandoned in 1798, but treasure hunters continued to search for the cave and used dynamite in the early 20th century until the ruin was protected by the Spanish goverment. Surprisingly, a hidden Roman structure of 25 x 7 metres was excavated in the 1990s inside the monastery's eastern wall. The archeologists date it from at least the 6th century, which proves that the cave was never found because the altar and small crypt below it are only about 10 metres from the structure [17].

The importance of these findings cannot be unterstated! The archeological evidence confirms that Peter's skull is missing in Rome, and the chronicle claims that a vessel with Christ's blood was also taken. The graffiti at Peter's tomb would explain why Christians adapted a pagan custom and celebrated refrigerium [18] in memory of Jesus and his Last Supper. We propose, therefore, that before he had the site enclosed within his basilica, Constantine added a loculus for the holy vessel, because it seems to be the ideal "object which the builders of the Constantine shrine wished to preserve, in perpetuity, in close association with the remains of St. Peter". That the relics belong together is confirmed by each representative of St Peter around the globe when he raises a fancy chalice to celebrate the Eucharist [19].

However, when Toynbee-Perkins and Kirschbaum responded to the Secret Report which opened the link to Catalonia the Vatican had already changed course after the death of Kaas. Giovanni Montini did no longer have to wait in the wings and could meet with the ailing pope every morning, which gave him substantial control: "It is true, my service to the pope was not limited to the political or extra-ordinary affairs according to Vatican language. The goodness of Pope Pius XII opened to me the opportunity to look into the thoughts even into the soul of this great pontiff" [20]. If we consider that "Montini was a longtime friend of the Guarducci family" and referred to Margherita Guarducci as his "old friend" [21], it is no surprise that he promoted her to replace the authors of the Report and help her gain control of Peter's tomb in 1953. We will cover her revisions in the Appendix because the lost cave needs to be addressed first. 

Pujades has been our reliable guide through the medieval history of Catalonia, but because the Spanish Inquisition was still active in 1609 CE, he could only hint at the religious controversies. When he quotes from the chronicle (see link in Spanish), he adds 603 CE, which happens to be the year the Persians invaded the empire. But the story begins really with Boniface IV, who became pope in 608 when there was no longer a threat, which allows Pujades to suggest "it is very possible that everything happened like this at different times."

Pujades was a law professor and judge, and could have applied the "different times" to either 603 or 608 to defend himself, but may actually be giving his readers a secret signal, that hiding the relics and the search for the cave are separated by substantial time. In 603, Gregory I was not only the first pope of monastic background, but also the mentor of his successors Boniface III and IV, both former monks. According to the Secret Report, and confirmed by Kirschbaum and Toynbee-Perkins, Gregory I conducted a major reconstruction of Peter's tomb to give pilgrims better access, as Kirschbaum's illustration shows at left. The circular crypt required "lowering the level of Constantine's floor so as to leave a passage free round the curving apse and beneath the raised presbyterium, from the centre of which a wide gallery led to the rear side of the former Memoria. This was the point closest to the apostolic tomb" [22]. Kirschbaum discusses at length how important it was, based on St Jerome, that mass must be celebrated right above the body of St Peter. He writes that for Gregory, Constantine's construction was no longer adequate "and he took measures which made it possible to say Mass over the apostle's tomb." This establishes rather clearly that Gregory's "measures" required an identification of Peter's remains, and this is when he would have discovered that they are missing. Our conjecture is supported by the fact that he threatened that "many and terrible signs" are protecting any disturbance of the sacred body of the blessed Apostle Peter [23], which kept other churchmen away for centuries.

Like Pujades, Kirschbaum could not address everything openly because his works are not only censured by the Church, but also by the Jesuits [24]. To set up Gregory's dilemma, he uses the Samagher ivory casket to illustrate his changes of Constantine's concept for which Guarducci took the credit decades later [25] without realizing the implications. This tiny reliquary of 18,5 x 20,5 x 16,01cm was carved around 440 CE and relates directly to the Sack of Rome in 410 CE because a side panel depicts Galla Placidia at Peter's tomb. Such a subtle connection to Barcelona and Pujades would have been familiar territory for a Jesuit. Ignatius of Loyola was inspired to found the Society of Jesus at Monterrat in 1522, and developed the "spiritual exercises" during a retreat to a cave in nearby Manresa. Many Jesuits visit Catalonia to study the origins of their society, and according to his vita Kirschbaum was there in March and April, 1935, to do some research, and he would have been likely to encounter the work of Pujades.

For history detectives like us, the "reburied bones" without the skull and the blood relic relate directly to Alaric's sack of Rome. It was a period of great turmoil which caused the imperial residence to be transferred to Ravenna and the withdrawal of the legion in Britain. There were foederati, irregular troops under Roman command, including Vandals, Alans and Huns. Their commander was Stilicho, a Roman general of Vandal origin. He stopped the advance of his former ally Alaric in 402 at the battle of Pollentia (Piedmont), but united with him again in 405. Stilicho made him the magister militum of Illyricum for the Romans, and even negotiated on his behalf with the Roman Senate. Their powerful alliance seemed to threaten Honorius and he had Stilicho beheaded after a promise of safe conduct. His chief ministers were also killed, and most women and children of the foederati.

Consequently, Stilicho's foederati joined Alaric, which increased his forces to 30 000 angry warriors, which he ordered to surround Rome and starve the citizens by stopping the food supplies from barges on the Tiber. After extensive bargaining, the famine-stricken citizens paid out a large ransom, which included 5,000 pounds of gold and 30,000 pounds of silver [26]. All slaves were freed and swelled the ranks of Alaric's warriors to over 40 000 men. We should keep in mind that this was a large human migration (Völkerwanderung) and his following included at least twice as many women and children.

Another treachery of Honorius led to a second siege of Rome in 409, and faced with the return of starvation and disease, the Senate met with Alaric. He demanded that they appoint one of their own as emperor to rival Honorius, to which they complied. When he was named magister utriusque militiae in the rival goverment, and his brother-in-law Ataulf comes domesticurum equitum, he finally lifted the siege.

During a meeting with Honorius outside of Ravenna, Alaric was suddenly attacked by a small Roman unit, and outraged by another treachery he stopped all negotiations and returned to his warriors and ordered a full attack of Rome. Most of the great buildings were sacked and all moveable goods removed. From the Lateran Palace a 2,025-pound silver ciborium was taken, the Basilica Aemilia and the Basilica Julia were burned, and every nun in town is said to have been raped. Many Romans were taken captive, including the emperor's young sister, Galla Placidia, as Alaric's personal hostage. Some citizens were ransomed, others sold into slavery, and many raped or killed. Scholars agree unanymously that Alaric's booty was the greatest treasure ever taken in history, and that it included artifacts from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, which the Jewish captives were forced to carry through the streets of Rome in AD 60. (We took this picture of their procession at the Arch of Titus, where the famous marble relief is deteriorating in Roman air pollution.)

Based on the historical fact that Alaric took Galla Placidia hostage to control the emperor, the "reburied bones" at the Vatican and chronicle of Sant Pere de Rodes imply strongly that he would have removed some relics to control the papacy. We don't know if he was religious, but as an Arian would have rejected the divinity of Christ and the relics cult. It is likely, therefore, that he took the skull of Peter and part of an arm, and had the rest of the bones shoved under the Red Wall to create the impression all is gone. As to the loculus in the Graffity wall, he could have removed the vessel "from the narrow East side of the wall, where the slab of the chest had been caved inward" [27]. We contend that it would be naive to assume Alaric besieged Rome for years and stayed away from Peter's basilica, which was outside the city walls and defenceless. All he would have probably done is have it guarded by his men to stop the foederati from looting.

Alaric died shortly after the sack of Rome from a fiever and the Visigoths elected his brother-in-law Ataulf as their king. He led them to their new territory in South-western Gaul where he had to defeat and execute two rival Western Roman emperors (see link). This victory, and his control of Galla Placidia and the relics, would explain why Honorius and the Church allowed him to marry his hostage in Narbonne on January 1, 414. According to the chronicles, the nuptials were celebrated lavishly with high Roman festivities and generous gifts from the Roman booty. The timing suggests that Ataulf explored after the wedding some coastal passes in the Pyrenees on route to Barcio (Barcelona) and, as implied by Pujades, found a cave where he could hide the immense treasure until he has found a permanent residence for his kingdom. This conjecture is supported by the fact that there is no historical record that the treasure has ever been found! But it is established that he lived for a year in Barcelona with Galla until their infant son died in 415, possibly by poison. In the same year, Ataulf was murdered, which suggests he did not reveal the location of the cave. What seems to relate is that his successor Sigeric had all six of Ataulf's children from a former marriage killed and then abused Galla Placidia publically. After a reign of only seven days, Sigeric was assassinated and replaced with Wallia, a relative of Ataulf, who allowed Galla to return to Ravenna. 

If pope Boniface, a former protégé of Gregory, really did send a ship down the Tiber in 608, as claimed in the chronicle, the timing and destination seem to fit perfectly. It suggests that when Gregory discovered that Peter's relics are missing and the loculus empty, he had his monks search secretly for documents about Ataulf and Gallia Placidia, which they seem to have found after his death in 604, including a description of Mont Verdera with the cave and Roman structure. The story of the lost cave is supported by excavations in the 1990s because there is a large crack in the wall of the structure, which the archeologists can date from artifacts to an earth movement in the 6th century [28]. Pujades seems to have studied this as well, because he writes that a number of historians mention earthquakes around 586 CE, which erupted in France and continued into Spain, and caused much destruction [29]. This would explain why neither the churchmen in 608 were able to find the cave, even if they had a map or local support, nor the generations after them. We spent some time with Google Earth Pro on the mountain, and noticed that a few ravines are filled with landslides.  

In view of modern technologies, our conclusions require that the cave should have long been found, or at least, that treasure hunters are roaming the mountain again. But thanks to Guarducci's scam, the legend of the lost cave lost its credibility in 1963 when she claimed to have found a heap of bones near Peter's grave, but this time with parts of the skull. Good timing, because Guarducci's old friend Montini had just been elected pope Paul VI, who announced her miraculous discovery to the world. Even the Jesuits seem to be happy that the skull is allegedly back in Rome and that Sant Pere de Rodes is eliminated, because Pope Francis used to be a Jesuit. Consequently, Francis celebrated Peter's relics in public in 2013, canonised Paul VI in 2018, and gave some of the relics to an Orthodox Patriarch in 2019, which closed the case for good.

We find it necessary, therefore, to quickly add our Appendix before Guarducci is elevated to sainthood – because the immense treasures from the lost cave could feed the world.

 

Appendix

When we completed our field research in Rome, it took us quite a while to realize that two different heaps of bones are being discussed. We had learned from Kirschbaum that the "anatomical investigation" of the bones under the Red Wall confirms: "all bones belonged to one and the same person. That person was further described as an elderly and vigorous man." According to Walsh (see link), the bones from the Graffiti Wall fell also "within the category of 'elderly,' between sixty and seventy years... of a single, elderly individual, about five feet seven inches tall, of heavy build, and almost certainly male." It seemed incomprehensible that two identical heaps of bones could be found near Peter's grave and we assumed that Guarducci renamed the Red Wall because it contained the earliest and most important graffito, the "Peter is within". 

We reviewed the evaluations of the Secret Report by Kirschbaum and Toynbee-Perkins next and noticed that Guarducci is not the "brilliant, real-life archeological genius" John O'Neill promotes. Although Kirschbaum treats her kindly, which was his nature, the British archeologists disagree with her openly. They document one example, where she had wiped some letters from the Graffiti Wall and persuaded her peers to endorse her interpretation although the evidence was no longer visible [30]. How the Brits put it needs to be read a few times because they follow the academic rules, while history-detectives like us can be a bit more blunt in exposing the inconvenient truth that Guarducci forged her findings and invented the second heap of bones. Our comparisons with the Walsh report (on-line) shows how she stretched her scenario from 1941 to 1963 until she could legimitize her "discovery" with Paul VI's blessings. It seems that a religious organisation that practices "the end justifies the means" for centuries appreciated Guarducci's sacrifice of professional integrity because a debate about Peter's missing skull and the Holy Grail would have interfered with the major Church reforms her old friend had in mind, and actually went on to achieve as pope.  

Guarducci's scheme relies on the claim that Peter's bones were inside the Graffiti Wall since Constantine built the basilica, which Toynbee-Perkins disputed directly: "The suggestion that this loculus was cut by Constantine to receive the relics of St. Peter... disregards the cardinal fact that the focus of Constantine's shrine remained exactly what it had been before – the centre of the Aedicula. Even if we assume he had, in fact, to retranslate the relics, it is inconceivable that he would have placed them anywhere but at the central point of the shrine itself" [31]. Walsh adds an interesting question: "the repository itself, despite the lining of marble slabs, was nothing but a miserable hole in a nondescript wall. Was this poor, makeshift cavity the best that Constantine could do for the precious remains, when he had lavished so much effort and expense on the richly decorated housing shrine and magnificent basilica towering over it? For any logical mind, sensitive to the fitness of things, the disparity was glaring" [32].

Guarducci's other glaring disparity is how she get's Peter's bones into the loculus. To make it work, she had to turn two German friends into enemies with absurd lapses of memory and judgment. She could claim anything in 1963 because there was no longer anyone to disagree: Kaas had died in 1952, and Pius XII in 1958. Kirschbaum was silenced by pope Paul VI because some Jesuit priests take the "fourth vow of obedience to the pope." But he was a man of wisdom and had nothing to add – everything is said in his book.

We know from a variety of sources, including Guarducci, that the excavations started in 1940 and that Peter's gravesite was reached in 1941. Kirschbaum's search for the tomb does not include dates, he only reveals that the work started after June 27, 1940 [33]. With half the year gone, the tomb may have been reached in early 1941 because the pope wanted an answer as soon as possible. Not an easy task for the excavators, to do their work in complete secrecy and avoid noise by using small hammers and chisels.  

As Kirschbaum broke through wall after wall with the Italian workers, the sanpietrini, they reached the Red Wall and discovered white marble linings, which they recognized as decorations of Peter's gravesite. According to Kirschbaum, they "came finally upon another more ancient wall, roughly 90 sentimers in length and 45 in breadth. This wall provided us with a new surprise. It was covered with scratched inscriptions (graffiti)." [34]. This is precisely the moment when Guarducci's scam begins, and Kirschbaum's narration needs to be studied carefully:

"We met with surprise at the lower end of the graffiti wall. Through a slit-like aperture in the wall we were able to peer into a box-shaped space. We cautiously widened the aperture to find a chest constructed of thin marble slabs, 77 centimeters long, 29 centimeters broad and 31.5 in height. It was empty except for some slight remains of earth mingled with bone splinters, a little lead, a few silver threads and a coin of the Count of Limoges, of uncertain date between the tenth and twelfth centuries. The chest had never apparently possessed a lid... But what had been preserved in the chest? Unfortunately, it had been emptied later. This had probably been done from the narrow East side of the wall, where the slab of the chest had been caved inwards" [35].

Kirschbaum took the left picture of the Graffiti Wall with the small slit, which we cropped to match the one at right to show how much it was enlarged to measure the chest. According to Guarducci's scenario, Kirschbaum peered into the slit, saw the box-shaped space inside, and although there was no lid he failed to notice a heap of bones in spite of being praised for an "amazing visual memory" in his vita [36]. This was the first dramatic moment of the excavations to be near Peter's tomb at last yet he supposedly left for the night and had the worker enlarge the slit without his supervision. According to Guarducci, this was "perhaps the most regrettable and egregious blunder in archaeological history" because Mgr Kaas came allegedly down and discovered a heap of bones in the chest. He then betrayed his friend Pius XII and team of archeologists by having the worker remove the bones to the storage room, where Kaas locked them away. 

Because the Italian worker is her only witness twenty years later, Guarducci can turn her scenario into an absurd farce: The next morning, when Kirschbaum finds the empty loculus, the worker allegedly forgets to tell him that Kaas had him remove a heap of bones. Later, when Kirschbaum discovers the reburied bones under the Red Wall, and Pius XII comes down to the ransacked tomb to find an explanation, Kaas forgets supposedly to console his old friend with the bones he found in the Graffiti Wall. Ten years later, when the pope faces the burden of the Secret Report and asks Kaas to write its foreword [37], Kaas forgets the other bones again and eventually takes the secret to his grave. To repeat the words of Walsh "For any logical mind, sensitive to the fitness of things, the disparity was glaring."

It would make perfect sense if the Italian worker forgot two minor details! He was obviously a good chiseler, but may not have remembered after twelve years which churchman with a heavy German accent told him to clean out the loculus, Mgr Kaas or father Kirschbaum? After collecting bones for months, he might have even forgotten what he removed, a few items or a heap of bones? Perhaps, Guarducci mentioned how important it is for Montini, and that he would become a foreman of the sanpietrini if his memory improves a little...

The role of Guarducci's only other witness supports the worker's forgetfulness rather well: Prof. Venerando Correnti is introduced as an internationally renowned anthropologist, and it goes without saying that his study of the bones would include their provenance. In reality, however, Correnti was brought in from the University of Palermo in Sicily, where he had only been a professor for two years (see link). His first name indicates a Catholic upbringing, and he may have regarded it an honor to work at the Vatican, even under unprofessional conditions. His research was restricted to a bare room and portable instruments at St Peter's basilica, and to the study of non-descript bones Guarducci would place before him. In an article of which fortunately a French translation survives, Guardicci admits that Correnti had to examine "blindly" three sets of bones marked T, K, and VMG (Graffiti Wall), and "without having any archeological or topographic information" [38]. Hence, she could have started Correnti with a pile of bones from the storage room in 1956, and claim later they were Kirschbaum's reburied bones from the Red Wall [39]. When she unrapped package VMG in 1962 for Correnti to examine, she could have replaced its contents with the bones from the Red Wall and 31 fragments of a skull, as shown below by Walsh's illustration.

Had Correnti been told by Guarducci that the VMG bones were supposedly in a large cavity inside the Graffiti Wall since the time of Constantine, he would have tried to find out how and when the skull could have been crushed into tiny fragments and why more than 90% is missing. That the bones should have been in a fancy urn inside the wall remains another unsolved question, because Guarducci presented her conclusions in June, 1963 just in time for Montini to be elected pope Paul VI.

As a confirmation of the Catholic saying that little sins are punished immediately, box VMG surprised Correnti with a little mouse. Because the skeleton was intact he considered it "unlikely that all the tiny pieces would still be present if they had been transferred by hand". This proves that it was not the same box the worker had filled in 1941 and Kaas locked up, because Guarducci handled its contents in front of the worker as well. She then wrapped the box in brown paper and took it to the basilica's main office in 1953 (see Walsh). In view of the matching bones of elderly men, the mouse would have entered and died in a box at the pope's private chapel, where he kept the bones from the Red Wall since 1941. Hence, on a day around 1960, when Correnti was not in town, Guarducci took the Red Wall bones to his work room and added skull fragments of an old man from the heaps Correnti had identified and marked. When she wrapped the box to look like the other VMG, she was obviously oblivious of the little detail that a mousetrap could disprove her entire scenario.

 

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Notes:

1.  Allen Duston, O.P., and Roberto Zagnoli, Saint Peter and the Vatican, (Virginia, 2003), p. 92.  

2.  Jocelyn Toynbee, John Ward Perkins, The Shrine of Saint Peter and the Vatican Excavations, (London, 1956), p. 154  

3.  Engelbert Kirschbaum S.J., The Tombs of St Peter and St Paul, tr. John Murray S.J., (London, 1959), based on Die Gräber der Apostelfürsten (Frankfurt, 1957).

4.  ibid., The first example is on p. 20, where Murray translates "ergriffen" with "enthusiastically," although it means "deeply moved". Why would anyone describe Kirschbaum as enthusiastic when he reaches on the feastday of Christian martyrs the very spot where they had lost their life? 

5.  John Evangelist Walsh, The Bones of St. Peter, The First Full Account of the Search for the Apostle's Body, (Doubleday, New York - 1982), see link.

6.  Hartmann Grisar S.J., Rom beim Ausgraben der antiken Welt, (Paderborn, 2015), Nachdruck from 1901 original, p. 234: "Hätte man die geschichtliche Frage stets ruhig betrachtet so würde man sich schon vor den kritischen Verhandlungen neurer Zeit gesagt haben: Ein Grab Petri in Rom konnte, wenn es vorhanden war, nicht vergessen werden, und wenn es nicht vorhanden war, nicht erfunden werden." There is also the English version History of Rome and the popes in the Middle Ages, tr. Luigi Cappadelta, (New York, 1975). 

7. The Görres-Gesellschaft states in his vita in German, see pdf : "Kirschbaum, der in engem persönlichen Kontakt zu Ludwig Kaas stand, wurde seit seiner Ankunft in Rom in die Überlegungen zu den Grabungen in St. Peter einbezogen. Er war maßgeblich zusammen mit Antonio Ferrua S.J., Enrico Josi u. Bruno Maria Apollonj-Ghetti 1940-1949 (insbesondere 1941-1942) an ihnen beteiligt, und hier zeigten sich „son étonnante mémoire visuelle, ses qualités et ses dons d’observation et de critique“ (V. Saxer).

8. Margherita Guarducci, The Remains of St. Peter, (see link), where she claims: "4. The loculus was never broken into from the age of Constantine until the time of the excavations (about 1941). 5. From this loculus come the bones which were removed at the beginning of the excavations, kept without interruption in a nearby spot in the Vatican Grottoes and recovered from this spot in 1953."

9. Kirschbaum, (see above, n. 3), p. 162: "The Saracens... violently smashed the lower part, the tomb proper. They destroyed the right side of the heavy threshold, which supported the marble pillars of the Tropaion, demolished the corresponding partof tomb n and forced their way through the Red Wall, where in senseless fury they hacked to pieces the right-hand portion of the marble decoration between the lower and central niches. The whole process can still be clearly followed and reveals an abnormal hatred and destructive lust. There can be no doubt that these are the traces of the Saracen attack of 846. Previous sacks of Rome do not come into the matter, because we have no report of damage to the apostolic tombs..." However, we propose that this "abnormal hatred and destructive lust" expressed their anger that the treasures were no longer there!

10. Walsh, (see above, n. 5), end of chap. 4 Peter's Grave.

11. He revealed a secret meeting of Pius XII and Ribbentrop a few years earlier to make a deal with the Nazis, see link, which became the source of Hochhuts play "The Deputy". See Camille M. Cianfarra, The Vatican and the war, (New York, 1944), pp. 209-10. Furthermore, he witnessed the funeral of pope Pius XI and noticed a skull and crossbones on his casket. It would be interesting if scholars establish some day that the momento mori of funeral rites is based on Peter's lost relics.

12. Esplorazioni sotto la confessione di San Pietro in Vaticano eseguite negli anni 1940-1949: relazione a cura di B.M. Apollonj-Ghetti, A. Ferrua, S.J., E. Josi, E. Kirschbaum, S.J., prefazione di Mons. L. Kaas, Segretario-Economo della Rev. Fabbrica di San Pietro, appendice numismatica di C. Serafini, vol. i, testo; vol. ii, tavole, (Città del Vaticano, 1951). Please note that most authors omit in their references that Kaas wrote the foreword, which we underlined.

13. Toynbee-Perkins, (see above, n. 2), p. 154. Note 16 is on p.184.

14. ibid., p. 166

15. ibid., pp. 165-167.

16. Gerónimo (Jeroni) Pujades, Crónica Universal del Principado de Cataluña, (Barcelona, 1829), vol. IV, pp. 186-190. See also vol. VIII (1832), p. 123, where he refers to "el grande libro del numero 223 llamado Registro que es del órden del P. San Benito" and folio 17, dated July 1, 1097, which indicates that the first 16 pages of the chronicle cover several centuries. A comparison with the first edition of the Coronica vniversal... (Barcelona, 1609) and f. 316v. in Paris shows that both mention an "ampolla" with the blood of Christ. But his manuscript at the BnF in Paris shows that Pujades expanded the line in Spanish to "un vaso, o ampolla" which includes the Catalan "grala" for cups and common bowls. Based on the Romesque Art in Catalonia, the sacred vessel would not have been like the fancy chalices used today, but rather a simple bowl like the Holy Grail at right from St Climent de Taüll.

17.  Immaculada Lorés, Carles Mancho, Sergi Vidal, El monestir de Sant Pere de Rodes, (Barcelona, 2002), pp.19-20: "Dos murs paral-lels i molt regulars, construïts amb grans carreus rectangulars de granit que constructivament difereixen de la resta de construccions del monastir, delimiten un gran edifici rectangular, de 25 x 7 m, l'aparell del qual va fer pensar que es tractava d'una edificació d'epoca romana (Mataró i Pladelasala 1992: 35, Mataró et al. 1992-1993: 149; Burch et al. 1994: 166; Mataró i Riu i Barrera 1994: 81)

18. Toynbee-Perkins, (see above, n. 2), p. 172

19.  These cups are today about 24 cm (9.5") tall and were probably smaller in the First Century. Even wrapped up, they would have easily fit into the loculus, which raises the question why Constantine made it oblong? A scientific study of the marble box is no longer possible because Guarducci had it wisely removed. Hence, we are no longer able to date when the Eastern slab was caved inward, by Alaric in 410 -- or Kaas in 1941? We are currently looking for records that additional objects were transferred from Peter's tomb which require an oblong shape. Part of the spear that pierced Christ's side comes to mind, or the sword Peter used to cut off the ear of the highpriest. In view of the bone fragment, we may have to consider Mary Magdalena, as suggested by some Romanesque paintings.

20. Andrea Lazzarini, Paolo VI, Profilo di Montini, (Roma, 1964), quoted from Papst Paul VI, (Freiburg, 1964), p. 58.

21. Thomas J. Craughwell, St. Peter's Bones, How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found... and Then Lost and Found Again, (New York, 2013), pp. 86-7.

22. Kirschbaum, (see above n. 3), p. 161. Also p. 158, and p. 234, note 66, "Lib. Pont., 312: 'Hic (Gregorius) fecit, ut super sorpus beati Petri missae celebrarentur."

23. ibid., see left page after title, which identifies the churchmen who censured his book with the disclaimer: "The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral errror. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions or statements expressed."

24. Margherita Guarducci, La capsella eburnea di Samagher: un cimelio di arte paleocristiana nella storia del tardo impero, ed. Società istriana di archeologia e storia patria, (Trieste, 1978).

25. John Julius Norwich, Byzantium, The Early Centuries, (New York, 1989), p. 134. "Ultimately, the city was forced to give the Goths 5,000 pounds of gold, 30,000 pounds of silver, 4,000 silken tunics, 3,000 hides dyed scarlet, and 3,000 pounds of pepper in exchange for lifting the siege". For other details, Wikipedia is a basic start.

26. Kirschbaum. (see above n. 3), p.71

27. Lorés et al, (see n. 17), "També es va poder comprovar de l'edifici estigué en ús com a mínim fins al segle XVII, moment en qué as va eixamplar cap a llevant, segurament a causa d'algun moviment de terra que ses va afectar i del qual encara en queda una esquerda en el mur sud. Els materials trobats en els dos estrats inferiors que recolzaven sobre la part interior dels murs s'han datat en el segle VI, la qual cosa informa que la cronologia de l'edifici ha de ser contemporània o anterior i, per tant, tardoromana (Llinàs et al. 1996: 272-273; Mataró i Pladelasala 1999), cosa que rectifica suposicions precedents a la intervenció d'una datació anterior (Mataró i Pladelasala 1992: 35; Mataró et al. 1992-1993: 149). Del que no se'n pot deduir res és de la seva funció original. De tota manera, la immillorable situatió estratègica de l'indret fa perfectament plausible suposar-hi un emplaçament antic".

28. Pujades, (see above n.16), vol. IV, p. 159. The earthquakes were near the end of Liuvigild's reign, Visigothic King of Hispania and Septimania from ca. 568 to 586 CE. He ranks among the greatest kings of the Arian faith.

29. Toynbee-Perkins, (see above, n. 2), Note 39, pp. 22 - 23. "When viewed by the present writers, through the courtesy of Professor Guarducci, in April 1953 (J.M.C.T.) and in January 1954 (J.B.W.P.), a great deal of what had been read by her early in 1953 had already faded into invisibility, and it would be presumption to comment in detail on the accuracy of a reading which one had had no opportunity of checking under better conditions. There are, however, two general queries that may legitimatly be raised. The drawings and inscriptions have undoubtedly faded since they were first photographed in 1943 (Guarducci, Pl. 15) and in 1947 (ibid., Pl. 16), and the deterioration has been accelerated recently by the brilliant lighting to which they have been subjected. Nevertheless, those parts of the complex that are visible in the early photographs are still clearly visible. How is it that the rest has faded so rapidly and completely? The other question is that of the extent to which it is possible to distinguish the faded traces of lettering from the accidental configuration on this much marked and damp-stained wall. The danger is not that of reading too little but of reading too much. As regards the inscription in large letters associated with the lower head (the only one of importance in the present context), the word Petrus can still be clearly read, and it was almost certainy followed by the word roga; the rest is now so much faded that one can do little more than say that there may be very well have been two or three further lines of text, beginning with the words pro s... For criticism of Professor Guarducci's methods of establishing the authenticity of the text that she purports to read, see R. North, S.J., in Verbum Domini..."

30ibid., p. 166.

31. Walsh, (see above, n. 5), 11. Decision. see link.

32. Kirschbaum, (see above n. 3), p. 19.

33. Toynbee-Perkins, (see above, n. 2), p. 220. 

34. Kirschbaum, (see above n. 3), p. 67

34.  ibid., p. 71

35. Kirschbaum, (see above n. 7), translated from his vita.

36. Esplorazioni, (see above, n. 12)

37. Walsh, (see above, n. 5), Appendix B, "St. Pierre Retrouvé, (Paris, 1974), p. 112. Guarducci admits: "Ce professeur travailla 'à l'aveugle'. On lui donna plusieurs groupes d'ossements, respectivement siglés T, K, VMG (du mur g)... il ignorait tout des données archéologiques et topographiques... Sur le troisième groupe, le travail du professeur dura d'octobre 1962 à juin 1963." Thanks to Walsh, we also know that the French translation is the only surviving proof of the Italian article, which speaks for itself!

38. This heap had 6 tibias, which is the shinbone and biggest of our legs. No experts would be required here as any skeleton shows that we have only 2 tibias!

 

 

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