The disasters of the previous ten years were not signs that the end of the world was at hand, but constituted a ‘type’, a pattern of what would happen again and again to the Church throughout the rest of history. 19
In Rome itself, with the reception of St. John’s Apocalypse, probably late in 70 A.D., the canon of the Scriptures of the New Testament was complete. In the wake of the Neronian carnage and the deaths of saints Peter and Paul, the Apocalypse’s message of reassurance and consolation was badly needed and much welcome. Assailed from without by persecution and from within by heresy, the young Church, with St. Peter and St. Paul now gone, stood in dire need not only of St. John’s steadying hand but also of the consoling message of the Apocalypse: that in the end good will triumph and evil will be destroyed. Notes Chapter 6 2 This quotation - the famous ‘Quo Vadis?’ story - comes from the Martyrium b. Petri a Lino ep. Conscriptum, 6, 7 3
Built in 398 the ancient basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls was burnt down in 1823. In 1838, during its rebuilding, workmen found that St. Paul had been buried in an ancient Roman cemetery. 4
Eusebius (Chronicon, II) tells us that St. Paul was martyred in the 14th year of Nero, i.e. in 67. St. Jerome tells us that St. Peter died ‘in the fourteenth year of Nero’ (i.e. 67, de Viris Illustribus, 1) and St. Paul ‘on the same day as Peter’ (‘eodem die quo Petrus’ in de Vir.Ill., 5) In de Vir. Ill. 12 St. Jerome noted that Nero’s tutor Seneca had died two years earlier. We know from Tacitus that Seneca had been forced to suicide in the consulate of Silius Nerva and Atticus Vestinus, i.e. in 65. The sixth century Liber Pontificalis states that ‘Peter was crowned with martyrdom along with Paul in the 38th year after the Passion of the Lord. (i.e. in 67) He was buried on the Via Aurelia near the temple of Apollo, alongside the Circus of Nero near the area called Triumphale, in the area where he was crucified, the 29 th of June.’ The Liber Pontificalis thus tells us that the grave was near the place of martyrdom. The Acta Petri tells us that his place of martyrdom was on the spina of the Circus ‘intra duas metas’ (‘between the two markers’); the Martyrium B. Petri Ap. adds that it was ‘close to the obelisk’. (These markers stood at each end, and the obelisk in the middle, of the spina which ran down the middle of the circus around which the chariots raced.) In the early 17th century the obelisk was moved to its present location in the middle of St. Peter’s Square. A marker for its original location can be seen hard by the basilica’s façade. In 1626 workmen uncovered the graves of St. Peter’s first ten successors gathered, like spokes around the hub of a wheel, around his tomb. Upon contact with the air their bodies, still in their robes, crumbled to dust. In 1942 St. Peter’s bones were retrieved by archaeologists but were not properly identified until 1963. Every bone of his body was represented except his feet from the ankles down. His body seems therefore to have been removed from its cross hastily and by a brutal cutting off at the ankles. From 1942 to 1963 the bones of St. Peter had lain in a chapel storeroom. In 1968 Paul VI ceremonially replaced them in their crypt below the high altar of St. Peter’s. In the thirteenth century Waldensian sectarians in northern Italy became the first to claim that St. Peter’s tomb was not, in fact, in Rome. In 1545 (to deter his followers
Published on Nov 29, 2011
Published on Nov 29, 2011
This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...