Bones of Saint Peter on display for first time

BY Tracy Wholf  November 24, 2013 at 1:10 PM EST


For the first time, relics of Saint Peter are displayed in for the veneration of believers during the end of the Solemnity of Christ the King in St. Peter’s square in Vatican City. Credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

The Vatican publicly displayed bone fragments purportedly from Saint Peter on Sunday for the first time.
The nine pieces of bone were originally discovered in a shoebox during excavations of St. Peter’s Basilica in the years following the death of Pope Pius XI in 1939.

The bones are now protected in a bronze display case, but were not available for public viewing until this weekend.

While some archeologists question the findings, Pope Francis prayed before the fragments at the start of Sunday’s mass and held the bronze box for several minutes following his homily.

St. Peter, one of the twelve apostles of Christ, has long been considered the first pope of the Catholic church, making Pope Francis his 266th successor.