Vatican City, Jul 3, 2019 / 09:50 am America/Denver (CNA).
Pope Francis gave unexpectedly a reliquary containing what are believed to be bone fragments of St. Peter to Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, an ecumenical gesture that has generated controversy among some Catholics.
The pope took the reliquary from the chapel in the papal apartments, where Pope Saint Paul VI had placed the bronze reliquary containing eight bone fragments after they were discovered in a 1952 dig under St. Peter’s Basilica.
A delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople were guests at the June 29 Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, as has been customary in recent years.
After the Mass, Pope Francis brought Eastern Orthodox Archbishop Job to a chapel in the papal apartments and offered the chapel’s reliquary as a gift, according to Vatican News. The bronze box bears the inscription, “From the bones found in the hypogeum of the Vatican Basilica, which are believed to be of Blessed Peter the Apostle.”
Pope Francis had previously brought the bronze reliquary containing the purported bone fragments for public veneration in St. Peter’s Square on Nov. 24, 2013 at a Mass for the feast of Christ the King, where Eastern patriarchs were also present.