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Cardinal recounts details of Pope’s visit to St. Peter’s tomb

April 03, 2013

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica since 2006, has discussed details of Pope Francis’s April 1 visit to St. Peter’s tomb, which is located in the necropolis under the basilica.

“His first stop was before the Egyptian Mausoleum (which dates back to the 2nd century),” Cardinal Comastri recounted. “In this mausoleum amid many pagan tombs there is also a Christian tomb. Christianity in fact, like yeast, was penetrating the pagan world. The Pope exclaimed in admiration: ‘It's like this today, too!’”

“We then made a second stop before the funerary stele of a man called Istatilio,” the cardinal continued. “He was certainly Christian: on his grave is the monogram [chi-rho]of Christ. On the stele is inscribed: ‘He was at peace with everyone and never caused strife.’ The Pope, after reading the phrase, looked at us and said, ‘That is a beautiful program of life.’”

Cardinal Comastri added:

Climbing back up the stairs and having reached the Clementine Chapel, Pope Francis became absorbed in prayer and repeated with a loud voice the three professions of Peter: “Lord, You are the Christ, Son of the Living God”; “Lord, to whom do we go? You have the words of eternal life”; “Lord, You know all things! You know that I love you!” At that moment, we had the distinct impression that the life of Peter rose out of centuries past and became present and living in the current Successor of the Apostle Peter.


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