‘One that the Best-Kept keys in Rome’: recognize The Fisherman’s TombJohn O"Neill"s brand-new book explores the 75-year search for St. Peter"s tomb.

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“It’s arguably one of the best-kept tricks in Rome,” writes man O’Neill in his new bookThe Fisherman’s Tomb: The True Story that the Vatican’s an enig Search.He to be talkingabout the Scavi tour ofthe necropolis beneath the Vatican. In his book, O’Neill explores the collection of coincidences that brought about the exploration of St. Peter’s skeleton under St. Peter’s Basilica. This includesthe Texas oilman that financed the project and also the archaeologist who finally discovered St. Peter’s dig after a 75-year search.

The Fisherman’s Tomb

A trip to the Vatican through Catholic writer and friend of man Paul II, Michael Novak, led O’Neill to think there to be a story to be told. 2 things persuaded O’Neill to compose the book. First, detect St. Peter’s bones would certainly disprove naysayers — those who don’t think in Christ and also don’t believe Peter ever went come Rome. Second, excavator Margherita Guarducci’s exploration of inscriptions would speak to believer everywhere. It’s “the best collection the Christian inscriptions in the world,” stated O’Neill in an interview withThe ugandan-news.com.

Where is St. Peter?

The find for St. Peter’s bones started in 1939 as soon as an excavation team began to destruction under the Vatican because that a burial place for Pope Pius XI. A workman fell through the floor and also into the necropolis below. It was there that the team uncovered evidence of a Christian woman’s grave amongst highly ornate roman inn tombs. It was an extremely unusual to have actually Christians hidden next come Romans who despised them. Christian inscriptions adorned her tomb. Pope Pius XII climate remembered a legend that St. Peter’s skeletal were hidden on Vatican Hill. Follow to the legend, Constantine had constructed the very first St. Peter’s basilica directly on peak of St. Peter’s grave.


Vatican Necropolis, dirt roadway that runs in between the tombs under the Vatican. Courtesy the Fabbrica di san Pietro, Vatican.

The Texas Oilman

Pope Pius XII was established to discover St. Peter’s tomb. However he needed a many offinancial help. That turned to Texas oilman George Strake, who basically wrote a “blank check” to the Church for the endeavor. “oth the search for Peter’s remains and Strake’s joining in the find were kept wholly hidden from the world,” writesO’Neill. Strake want it that way. He believed that he can either have actually his prize “in this human being or the next one.” He made decision to store quiet.

A ‘Terrible Mistake’

A priest named Antonio Ferrua maneuvered his means onto the excavation team. In 1942, the Ferrua team discovered what they assumed were St. Peter’s skeletal in an unadorned tomb, yet had make a “terrible mistake,” O’Neill writes. That wasn’t till Guardicci come on the scene in 1950 that the search for St. Peter’s tomb made headway.

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Guarducci had the ability to decipher the inscriptions on a “Graffiti Wall” the Ferrua had actually previously reported was meaningless. Ferrua insisted that the previously bones to be St. Peter’s.But Guarducci was convinced that the engravings proved otherwise. The conflict over St. Peter’s bones started in earnest.


Margherita Guarducci reflects a photo of the niche in the wall surface where the bones believed to it is in the Apostle Peter’s were originally found. Religious News Service, OSV archive.

Solving the Mystery

O’Neill’s book describes the archaeological significance of the Graffitti wall and the genius the Guarducci indecrypting the transcriptions. She didn’t realize it in ~ the time, yet she’d uncovered the hints “that would at some point solve the mystery” that St. Peter’s tomb and bring to irradiate the consistency that Christian ideas from beforehand Christians come today.

Guarducci’s decryption that the password on the Graffitti wall led her to St. Peter’s bones. It wasn’t until 2013 that Pope Francis declared, after ~ a evaluation of the evidence, the Guarducci had indeed discovered St. Peter’s bones and that Ferrua’s cases were false.

A exceptional Story

The coincidences in the story space remarkable. “You get Pius together the Pope, who really is interested in archaeology,” defined O’Neill. “You have actually that workman loss 20 feet , plus the Pope wants to dig under there. Finally, the project is half done and who shows up however Guarducci, most likely the one human on earth who would have been able to in reality discern the an interpretation of the inscriptions and find Peter? … If you believe at every in magnificent Providence, it’s too astounding a collection of coincidences to describe simply by chance.”

‘The Most necessary Christian archaeological Discovery’

Pope Francis stop the relics of the Apostle Peter during a mass in St. Peter’s Square, November 24, 2013. Newscom, REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The Fisherman’s Tombwas published previously this year. End 400 people showed approximately a booksigning in Houston, come say “Thank you” to Strake, the Texas oilman who had made the discovery possible. “Many of lock were world who were helped by Strake, in one fashion or another,” O’Neill said. In enhancement to the discovery, Strake had endowed schools and also hospitals. “So, it offered them a chance to speak ‘Thank you."”

“What they uncovered really is the best collection,” O’Neill explained, “the most essential … Christian archaeological discovery because the Dead Sea scrolls and also yet it’s basically unknown in the joined States because the secular press shut out knowledge of it.

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Guarducci’s exploration isa an effective testament come the authenticity of the Bible. O’Neill detailed that anyone that doubts that Christ existed, that Peter existed, or the Peter visited Rome just needs to take the Scavi tour and also see his tomb. “The fact is, he did exist, the reality is the tradition and those stories really room the truth and also that the inscriptions commemorate in stone.”


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