Yet Peter himself indicates his presence in Rome in Scripture in the concluding words of his Prima lettera, detto, "Lei chi è in Babilonia, che è parimenti scelto, ti manda saluti; e così fa Marco, mio figlio " (5:13).
“Babylon” was commonly used by the Christians in the first century as a code name for Rome–vedere, per esempio, il Libro della Rivelazione, 14:8; 16:19.
Il Frammento muratoriano (ca. 170) explains that Peter’s martyrdom was omitted from the Atti degli Apostoli because Saint Luke chose only to record events which he had witnessed personally. Luke’s omission of Peter’s activity in Rome, dunque, likely means only that he and Peter happened not to be in the city at the same time.
Peter likely came to Rome around the year 42 A.D. and died there in about 67, but this does not mean he remained there during the intervening 25-year period.
It’s far more likely that, having established Rome as the home base for his missionary journeys, he set out from the capital fairly frequently–even for years at a time.1
While Peter is not mentioned in the epistles from Paul’s Roman imprisonment either, there is an allusion to him in Paul’s Lettera ai Romani, composed a few years earlier. In that letter, Paul reveals that he has been hesitant to come to Rome to preach “where Christ has already been named, perché non mi costruire su fondamenta di un altro uomo " (15:20).
The “other man,” who preached the Gospel in Rome before Paul, must be Peter. Since Jesus commanded the Apostles to “make disciples of all nations” (vedere Matteo 28:19). Così, it is reasonable to expect that at least one of the Twelve had gone to Rome, the place where all nations met, and it seems only fitting that the first Apostle in Rome was Peter, the vicarious shepherd of Christ’s flock (Giovanni 21:15-17).
Infatti, Peter had sown the seeds of Roman Christianity during his Pentecost sermon as the universal crowd that he addressed that day contained visitors from Rome (Atti degli Apostoli, 2:10).
These first converts would eventually blossom into the Church of Rome, though they would require the Apostle’s guidance in order to be formed into a unified community.2
The historical evidence for Peter’s presence in Rome, contained in the writings of the Early Church Fathers, is unanimous and overwhelming.
Writing from Rome, only a few decades after the fact, Papa San Clemente, who had known both Peter and Paul, referred to their heroic martyrdoms (vedere Lettera di Clemente ai Corinzi 5:1-7). Allo stesso modo, Sant'Ignazio di Antiochia (c. 107 ANNO DOMINI.) said to the Roman faithful, “Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you. They were Apostles, and I am a convict” (from the Letter of Ignatius to the Romans, 4:3).
Intorno all'anno 130, Saint Papias verified that Saint Mark had worked as Peter’s assistant in Rome (see Peter’s Prima lettera 5:13) e quello Mark’s Gospel developed from his records of the Apostle’s preaching there (vedere Explanation of the Sayings of the Lord; Eusebio, Storia della Chiesa 3:39:15 and see also Irenaeus, Eresie 3:1:1).3
Per di più, in su 170, Dionysius, the Bishop of Corinth, wrote to Pope Saint Soter, “You have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time” (Letter to Soter of Rome 2:25:8).
Sant'Ireneo di Lione (c. 185) referred to Peter’s activity in Rome with absolute certainty, calling the Church of Rome “the greatest and most ancient Church known to all, fondata e organizzata a Roma dai due gloriosissimi apostoli, Pietro e Paolo” (Contro le eresie, 3:3:2).
Towards the end of the second century, Saint Clement of Alexandria confirmed that Mark had served as Peter’s secretary in Rome (vedere Fragment; Eusebio, Storia 6:14:6).
At the turn of the century, Tertullian noted that Clement had been ordained in Rome by Peter himself (vedere The Demurrer Against the Heretics 32:2). A few years later, ha scritto, “Let us see what … the nearby Romans sound forth, to whom both Peter and Paul bequeathed the Gospel and even sealed it with their blood” (Contro Marcione 4:5:1).
Around the same time, a Roman presbyter named Caius verified that Peter was buried on Vatican hill. "Posso sottolineare i trofei degli Apostoli," lui disse. “For if you are willing to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Way [where Peter and Paul are buried respectively], troverai i trofei di coloro che fondarono questa Chiesa " (Disputa con Proclo; Eusebio, Storia 2:25:7). San Ippolito di Roma (d. 235) ha scritto, “Peter preached the Gospel in Pontus, and Galatia, and Cappadocia, and Betania, and Italy, and Asia, and was afterwards crucified by Nero in Rome with his head downwards, as he had himself desired to suffer in that manner” (On the Twelve Apostles 1).
The traditional account of Peter’s crucifixion and burial (and presence in Rome) was confirmed in 1968 when his bones were rediscovered in a first-century grave located directly beneath the main altar of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Apostle’s bones were found remarkably intact except that the feet were missing, suggesting the soldiers may have removed the corpse from the cross by cutting off the feet, corroborating the ancient tradition that Peter was crucified upside down.4
- cf. Warren H. Carroll, A History of Christendom, vol. 1 (Front Royal, Virginia: Christendom Press), p. 420. ↩
- In The Tragedy of Calvary, Henry Bolo, cited in The Official Legion of Mary Handbook, goes a step further, observing, “The Church of the future, which must be called the Roman Church, began in a mysterious manner around Calvary the function which she was destined to fulfil in the world. The Romans it was who offered up the Victim and elevated it in the sight of the multitude. These future guardians of the unity of the Church would refuse to tear the tunic of Jesus. These depositories of the faith would be the first to write and to uphold the principal dogma of the new faith—the royalty of the Nazarene. They would smite their heart at the moment when the sacrifice would be consummated saying: ‘Truly this was the Son of God.’ Lastly, with the same spear which would open up to the Gospel all the highways of the universe, they would open the Sacred Heart of the Master, from whence flow streams of benediction and of the supernatural life. Since all humanity is guilty of the of the Redeemer, since all have steeped their hands in his , and since therefore the future Church could not be represented but by culprits, does it not seem as though the Romans, as early as the time of Calvary, were, though unconsciously, inaugurating, substantiating, their immortal destiny? The cross had been fixed in such a position that the back of Jesus was turned upon Jerusalem, while his face was to the west, towards the Eternal City” (Dublin: Concilium Legionis Mariae, 1993, pp. 339-340). ↩
- Tertulliano, a century later, would go so far as to say, "(The Gospel) issued by Mark may be affirmed to be Peter’s, whose interpreter Mark was” (Contro Marcione 4:5:3). ↩
- Carroll, vol. 1, p. 445, n. 143; the author referenced John E. Walsh, The Bones of St. Pietro (Garden City, New York, 1982), pp. 164-165. ↩