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Archaeologist who uncovered St Peter's bones dies at 102

Antonio Ferrua, a Jesuit archaeologist who headed the excavation that uncovered what the Vatican declared to be the tomb and bones of St Peter has died at the age of 102.

Ferrua died on Sunday in Rome, according to the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

Excavation in the grottoes under St Peter's Basilica, ordered by Pope Pius XII, started in 1940 and went on for about a decade. The work uncovered an ancient necropolis, and a tomb found at the site was declared to be that of St Peter.

Years later, Pope Paul VI, whose papacy spanned 1963 to 1978, declared that bones of an elderly man found at the site were those of Peter. But the Vatican announcement at the time was met with some skepticism.

The Italian Catholic newspaper L'Avvenire, in an article written when Ferrua turned 100, said the Jesuit himself repeatedly said he was "not convinced" they were the saint's bones.

L'Avvenire described Ferrua as a "scholar of great rigor, who has never been touched by any ideological interference."

Born in Italy's northern Piedmont region, Ferrua joined the Jesuits in 1918 began studies in epigraphy, Latin literature and archaeology.


Jesuits: Renowned Archeologist Who Identified Saint Paul's Tomb Died (Vidimus Dominum)
The Bones of St Peter (Catholic Digest)
Le Ossa dell'Apostolo Pietro sono ancora nella sua tomba sotto La Basilica Vaticana ?

28 May 2003