For the first time, the bones traditionally believed to be the relics of St Peter the Apostle will be on public display for veneration.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelisation, said the veneration of the relics at the Vatican was a fitting way to conclude the Year of Faith on November 24.
Writing in the Vatican newspaper, the archbishop, whose office organised many of the Year of Faith events, said millions of pilgrims marked the Year of Faith by making a pilgrimage to St Peter’s tomb and renewing their profession of faith there.
“The culminating sign” of the year, he said, “will be the exposition for the first time of the relics traditionally recognized as those of the apostle who gave his life for the Lord here.”
The bones were discovered during excavations of the necropolis under St Peter’s Basilica in the 1940s near a monument erected in the fourth century to honor St Peter.
No pope has ever declared the bones to be authentic. However, after scientific tests were conducted on the bones in the 1950s and 60s, Pope Paul VI said in 1968 that the “relics” of St Peter had been “identified in a way which we can hold to be convincing”.