Friday, November 15, 2013

ST. PETER’S BONES by Thomas J. Craughwell

Random House
January 14, 2014
ISBN   978-0307985095
Obtained via:  Edelweiss Above the Tree Line / Publisher
5 Hearts

In 1040 Pope Pius XII proceeded with the reconstruction of the Grottoes beneath the Vatican. This reconstruction would not, could not, proceed as if the Vatican and what lie beneath was a simple building in need of overdue repairs. Held beneath the floors were what to some, many would be treasures—the bones and relics of martyrs of the early Catholic church.  The remains of the early Romans, martyred Christians and perhaps the bones of the Prince of the Apostles, St. Peter, protected by the structures above were to be unveiled when, in January 1941 an elegant mausoleum with breathtaking inscriptions was unearthed. The inscriptions were breathtaking not so much because of their looks but what those words revealed.

Not one to rush to judgment Pope Pius XII had the undertaking continue under the watchful eye of the elite Vatican archeologists and priests. Ever more cautious he waited until the time was right to unveil what may be one of the greatest treasures of the church.

Thomas J. Craughwell’s ST. PETER’S BONES is not my usual fare but when I read the blurb I could not resist requesting this book for review.  I was not disappointed. Mr. Craughwell is a wonderful writer who describes the events around the 1940 discovery beneath the Vatican in vivid detail. His own research was thorough and encompassed not only the 1940’s but going back in time to how the events behind the burials in the Vatican came about. It is not a book for “only Catholics” but for anyone interested in history and the actions which brought those events about.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Note on the Cult of Relics that precedes the book and was so riveted by the information provided I shared it with several of my friends. It provided a fascinating topic of conversation to us.  While ST. PETER’S BONES is in good part about the Catholic church and it’s relic treasures, one does not have to be Catholic to enjoy Mr. Craughwell’s work.   Will definitely be picking up his prior book SAINTS PRESERVE US and have added him as an author to follow.

While ST. PETER’S BONES is a non-fiction the way Mr. Craughwell tells his story reads like one of the best page turning mysteries. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read.  

"This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book."

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