Dear Fellow Catholics,
I have been away from this forum for quite some time, by choice, as I have chosen to attempt apologetics elsewhere. This in no way is an attempt to detract from the wonderful work done here, as I believe it is vital. I have found fruitful fields elsewhere however, and thus, hope to further the cause of Christ in less than friendly environments.
In the course of my cyber-travels, I have come across a little known work by a 20th century Franciscan monk named P. Bagatti, who’s excavations at Dominus Flevit have caused much controversey, at least to the relatively better read among our Protestant bretheren. This work, the title of this thread, Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit, has caused some to believe that there is a conspiracy in the Church to hide the final resting place of St. Peter. They claim that Fr. Bagatti’s work conclusively showed, back in 1958, that St. Peter was actually buried in an ossuary underneath Dominus Flevit, rather than in St. Peter’s basillica in Rome.
I am posting this thread since it is exceedingly difficult to find proof to the contrary on the Internet, with merely a cursorary examination of the facts. I hope to show that, given the links I shall provide, this is an extrodinary claim that is demonstratively false, as well as some apologetic answers that may be useful in your endeavors. Thus, I hope this thread will prove useful to you my bretheren.
First, while the following site is, unfortunately, framed in a rather “tongue and cheek” way, it clearly demonstrates that in the majority of both Catholic AND Protestant scholarship, the notion that St. Peter is buried anywhere else than in Rome is a near anathema, to use a theological term.
The sources there may be of use in future apologetics.
Second, regarding the claim that Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit is irrefutable proof of a “Papist Conspiracy”, this is hardly the case as the following article demonstrates:
Note the following sentences from the article above, which are critical for this apology (unless one can understand Italian, which is the original language of Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit)
*Other than its existence among the burial tombs of some of the very first Christians, no conclusive evidence was found to identify this stone coffin as that of the disciple and close companion of Jesus, Simon Peter. *
From this point on, it is the task of the opponent, not the Catholic apolgist, in any hypothetical argument, to prove that Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit shows conclusively that “the coffin bearing the unusual inscription “Shimon bar Yonah” (=“Simon [Peter] son of Jonah”)” is, in fact the grave of St. Peter.
As for the oft repeated phrase, “*“There is a hundred times more evidence that Peter was buried in Jerusalem than in Rome.” ~~ Rev. Father J.T. Milik, Roman Catholic Priest and archaeologist”, *(Fr. Milik is a co-author of Gli Scavi del Dominus Flevit) again, it’s the task of the opponent, not the Cathoic apologist, to prove the authenticity of this quote. This site:
NOT withstanding. Why do I say that? It’s simple. That article is the source of the quote! Also, beyond all the bluster and remarkable claims made in that site(“this preist told me this, and that priest told me that”; there are no other names given other than Milik’s and the one below, thus no way to substaintiate those claims independently), there is one substaintiated claim made which clearly refutes the author (of that site) to whit:
I regard Father J. T. Milik as a first class scholar in the Semitic field." He added, “I do not consider that names on ossuaries are conclusive evidence that they are those of the Apostles.” Nelson Glueck, John Hopkins University in Baltimore.
One must be very careful when reading the above article by F. Paul Peterson. I submit, that if one reads it with an objective, open mind, given the weight of evidences above, one can clearly see that Mr. Peterson has very little evidence to provide for his remarkable claim. IOW, he states Fr. Milik told him the remarkable quote above, but we only have Peterson’s word for it.
The main point to remember is that the majority of scholars, even if we believe Fr. Milik said what Peterson claims he said, say that simply the name of St. Peter on the coffin does not prove his presence there. One priest can be wrong; preists are human too. The weight of archeology differs, and indeed, archeological evidence has shown conclusively that there is at least a “Peter” buried in Rome, so that, combined with the historical and traditional evidence, in any court of law, would effectively demonstrate the diggings at Dominus Flevit, while a remarkable demonstration of the earliest roots of Christianity, are not proof of St. Peter’s final resting place.