Religion: The Petrine Puzzle

Seven years ago, at the close of the Holy Year, Pope Pius XII made an announcement of great importance to Christian tradition: Vatican archaeologists had found the tomb of St. Peter beneath the high papal altar of the cathedral that bears his name (TIME, Jan. 1, 1951). For most Catholics the Pope's claim confirmed a belief firmly held since before the time of Constantine, but antiquaries and archaeologists were eager for more details. Vatican accounts of excavations beneath the cathedral−begun in 1939, when a fascinating honeycomb of pagan and Christian mausoleums were discovered...

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