By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Tradition holds that St. Peter was jailed in Rome’s maximum security Mamertine Prison before he was crucified upside down and buried on the hill where St. Peter’s Basilica was later built.
And now after recent excavations in Rome’s oldest prison, archaeologists say they have uncovered evidence that, while not providing direct proof, does support that belief.
The prison, which lies beneath the Church of St. Joseph of the Carpenters facing the Roman Forum, was closed for the past year as experts dug up old floors and picked away plaster.
They found and restored a 14th-century fresco of Jesus with his arm around a smiling St. Peter and an 11th-century fresco of Jesus with the oldest known image of the Campidoglio, Rome’s city hall, behind him.
Patrizia Fortini from the city of Rome’s department of archaeological heritage led the excavation and restoration project. She told journalists July 27 they found proof that the site had been a place for venerating St. Peter by the seventh century, lending support to historical accounts that he had been incarcerated there.
The prison has two levels: the upper chamber called the “Carcer” and the lower chamber called the “Tullianum,” which was built in the sixth century B.C.
In the Tullianum, Fortini said, they found “traces of a basin that must have been where water was collected — water which, according to tradition, sprang forth after St. Peter pounded on the stone floor.” (more…)