Touring a necropolis beneath the Vatican is a lesson in life and a chance to go back in time to see the faith of the first Christians, says the archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica...
The crypt, which dates from the second century and is famous for its stucco decorations, is located in the middle of the route through the old necropolis that leads to the tomb of St. Peter...
... Cardinal Comastri stressed the importance of the Vatican necropolis: "We must make everyone understand that the basilica was not built here because of a whim, but because it has a history underneath that has been preserved, protected with extreme scruple, and it is the history of the Apostle Peter."
"Peter came to Rome," the cardinal continued. "Here he met with martyrdom during Nero's persecution. Then he was taken by Christians, because Roman law allowed the recovery of bodies of the condemned to give them burial.
"Peter was brought to the point where at present the papal altar is erected. He was buried there and we can say that for 2,000 years, that site is the justification of the presence of the Bishop of Rome next to the tomb of Peter, that is, of the Pope."
In fact, "we can almost touch with our hand the tomb where the first Christians of Rome placed the body of the Apostle Peter," he added. One can see, "extremely clearly, around the place of Peter's burial, a whole series of testimonies of devotion" to the apostle in that precise point, for example, the most famous inscription in Greek: "Petros eni" (Here is Peter).
For Cardinal Comastri, the visit to a necropolis "is a lesson of life, because death is part of life, it is inseparable. The ancient peoples respected the dead, and in this they were surely more civilized."
They "would never have violated a tomb, something that happens today and is a sign of a civilization's sickness," he reflected.
Second, is the recent discovery of the world's first Catholic Church (click here for the full article):
Archaeologists in Jordan have unearthed what they claim is the world's first church, dating back almost 2,000 years, The Jordan Times reported on Tuesday.
"We have uncovered what we believe to be the first church in the world, dating from 33 AD to 70 AD," the head of Jordan's Rihab Centre for Archaeological Studies, Abdul Qader al-Husan, said.