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tv   Finding Jesus Faith Fact Forgery  CNN  December 25, 2021 2:00am-3:00am PST

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became his closest female follower, and an example to all who would come after her. >> she was the one who had the deep spiritual connection with jesus, who understood his mission and who then carried it out and proclaimed it. she was the first christian. he is the most important of all jesus' disciples. >> he singles peter out from the >> and he singles peter out from the rest of the disciples by saying, "you are peter, and on this rock, i will build my church." >> he is christ's right hand man. >> i will lay down my life for you. >> but famously he denies jesus in his hour of need.
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>> i swear i do not know the man. >> head strong, stumbling, confused, questioning: jesus loves peter not in spite of his failings, i think sometimes, but because of them. >> the vatican claim they have found peter's bones beneath the basilica which bears his name. >> they may have discovered the ancient man upon whom the church and all its traditions are founded. >> who is peter? did he travel to rome to lay the foundations for the christian church? and could these really be peter's bones? ♪ >> [ speaking in foreign
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language ] >> november 2013, vatican city, rome. pope francis causes a sensation. >> 2013 was a year of faith, and as part of an extra kind of reward for pilgrims who had come, pope francis displayed these nine bones, and he's essentially making the claim that he's holding right there, the bones of the person who founded the church in rome: st. peter. >> the revelation of st. peter's bones makes headlines around the world. >> this is something that has never happened before. the vatican, this morning, publicly displayed what's believed to be bone fragments from st. peter, an apostle of jesus christ, and the world's first pope. >> for most faithful catholics,
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they had no idea that such things existed. they'd never been made public, and they'd been kept inside in a private chapel for the pope and for his inner circle, so this is a very thrilling moment for -- for believing catholics all over the world. >> if these are the bones of peter, then they are one of the catholic church's most significant discoveries. >> it's very exciting, because it puts us into direct contact with the historical peter. >> peter was the most important disciple of jesus. >> peter is, in the traditions of the church, the first pope. he's the first pope in a line that lasts all the way to pope francis today. >> i think peter was jesus best friend. i think he was his brother. >> according to the gospel of matthew, peter is the rock on which christ will build his church, but clear evidence that
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peter came to rome to lay the foundations of the christian church is not in the bible. now, can scientific testing of peter's relics reveal new truths about the life of the first disciple, his role in the formation of the christian church in rome, and help tell us if the bones discovered beneath st. peter basilica are really his? the gospels tell us that peter is a fisherman on the sea of galilee. >> he's one of the few apostles that we have some hints about his home life, so we know that he's married. he has a mother-in-law whom he might be financially responsible for. according to some traditions, he also has children. >> he's a big guy.
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he's doing lots of physical work. you have to be strong to be a fisherman. >> i see peter as the everyman. here's someone who is probably illiterate, who is probably limited in terms of his experience, you know, only a fisherman, and who has to follow this carpenter, you know, who he's probably never seen before. >> jesus asked peter to follow him, and it says in the gospels that peter dropped everything to follow him, and so it's a complete commitment. >> according to the gospels, peter spends many months traveling galilee with jesus, helping to spread his message. >> all the way through the gospel narratives, we keep seeing peter right there, with jesus. he's in the inner circle. he's jesus' most trusted, loyal
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companions. peter's the most human of the disciples because he just reacts off the cuff all the time, shoots from the hip. so he's hot headed. he has a bit of a temper of him. he'll say things which he then regrets. he changes his mind about things. he's the most three-dimensional of the disciples. >> significantly, according to john's gospel, early on in his ministry jesus renames peter. >> peter's actual name is simon, or simeon, and he appears to have been renamed by jesus, and he's renamed peter, or kephas, in aramaic, and this is the word for rock, and it seems to be that he's nicknamed rock because in spite of all peter's failings, he's the one that jesus trusts to be the rock at the heart of the movement. >> jerusalem. after spending many months preaching around galilee, jesus,
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peter and the disciples bring their message here, to the holy city itself. >> from everything that we know in the gospels, peter is just a simple guy. he's a fisherman from galilee. he's probably never been to jerusalem before, so imagine that kind of an experience it was for him to enter this incredibly busy, bustling city. >> this is the moment where peter is thinking, "are we about to see israel restored to its former glory? are we going to finally get rid of the romans? are we finally going to see a righteous king ruling over israel?" so i imagine peter being full of
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hope, full of excitement as they're going into jerusalem. >> and so you can imagine that peter's thinking, "this is the beginning of some kind of revolution," that they're gonna be taking over, that they're gonna have power and authority and that this is the beginning of something glorious. expectations are running very high. >> messiah, messiah, messiah. >> but according to the gospels, within days, peter will have abandoned jesus and stood by as his friend and teacher is taken to the cross. >> he's swine. i swear i do not know the man. ♪ this holiday, let them shine like never before.
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jerusalem, the holy city. several days after jesus triumphant entry, he calls peter and all the apostles together for a meal. >> this is the cenacle, so called from the latin root for supper. this is actually a crusader church that was built on a 5th century tradition of this being the place of the last supper with jesus and his disciples. >> when jesus and his disciples meet for the last supper, there's a number of key events that have happened, open conflicts with the authorities, and the tension in the narrative is really ratcheting up. >> peter thinks that, with jesus
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installed as messiah, peter's probably very excited about the role he's going to play in jesus' reigning over israel. >> so jesus and his disciples are having this lovely meal together. it has a great feeling of, you know, conviviality, very lovely and intimate, and all of a sudden, jesus just comes from this completely unexpected direction. >> this is my body, which is given for you. do this in remembrance of me. >> jesus breaks bread in the last supper as an about the of symbolism. he says that he breaks this bread in order to illustrate that his body too will be broken.
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>> i think when peter hears jesus speaking of his death, he's confused. he still doesn't understand that this is the way of jesus, the path that he must take. >> i think peter found the last supper very confusing, but then again, i think peter found a great deal of jesus' ministry very confusing. jesus was still, to one of his best friends, peter, very mysterious. >> the mood of the last supper radically changes when jesus begins talking about what is going to happen to him. >> one of you is going to betray me. >> who is it? who is it?
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>> it is the one to whom i give this piece of bread. >> judas iscariot is the one singled out by jesus as the one who will betray him. >> peter and the other disciples react with complete bewilderment. surely this can't happen. >> the last supper becomes even more intense when jesus actually looks at his disciples and says, "not one of you will stay faithful to me. you will all betray me. you will all desert me, when my time has come."
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>> i will lay down my life for you. >> jesus knew peter's personality. although peter thought himself as being this great leader, this right hand man of jesus, jesus knew better. >> very truly i tell you, when the cock crows, you will have denied me three times. >> you can imagine just how fallen peter must have felt when jesus says, "not only will you betray me. peter, you will betray me three times before the cock crows." >> lord, if i have to die with you, i will never deny you. >> and jesus knew that he would.
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he probably was always aware that peter wasn't as grounded as peter himself thought he was. >> after the last supper, jesus leads his disciples out beyond jerusalem's walls, to a place called gethsemane. it's here where jesus is betrayed by judas. >> jesus of nazareth! >> peter then gets violent and attempts to defend jesus. it's just an emotional, rash act born out of love for jesus and a desire to protect him. >> after jesus' arrest, peter is in danger for his life. we have a history of rebellions against the roman government, and during most of these, if a leader is rounded up and executed, the followers are rounded up and executed as well.
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>> peter stays close by. he's intrigued to know what's going to happen. he's worried about what's going to happen. because he's near the action, he has people see him. >> you were with jesus the galillea. >> i don't know what you are talking about. >> this man was with jesus of nazareth. >> i do not know the man. >> yes, you were. >> you are. >> certainly you are one of them. your accent, it betrays you. >> swine, i swear i do not know the man. >> and when that third denial happens and the cock crows, then according to one of the gospel writers, jesus looks right at peter. >> jesus and peter lock eyes with one another. i would imagine peter feels that
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jesus can look into his soul and knows what he did, and peter looks at jesus and sees the person that he has betrayed. >> it's a terrible thing to swear to god that you don't know the son of god. he completely loses it. peter is overcome by his sense of failure of the one that he loved, jesus. >> i imagine for peter it was as if he couldn't breathe. that would be the moment where there would be no hope. it was the end of everything.
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hours after jesus' arrest he is brought before pontius pilate. >> are you the king of the jews? >> he is flogged, humiliated and finally crucified.
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>> i imagine that the night of good friday for peter was the dark night of peter's soul. the man whom he had followed for many months, a man whom he probably thought was the redeemer of israel, had just been ignominiously crucified by the romans, and to make matters worse, he had denied that redeemer in his final hour. >> according to the gospel of john, after christ's crucifixion, peter leaves jerusalem and travels back to galilee. >> peter has not found himself again, and so he returns to his former life as a fisherman. >> it would have been
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devastating for peter to feel that the cause that they had worked for, for 3 years, was defeated, and the man that he thought would be the messiah, to see him tortured and crushed like an average man. >> peter's probably very confused and feeling very guilty. he probably still has the sense that he needs to be forgiven for his betrayal of jesus. ♪
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>> the scene where the resurrected christ appears to peter is one of the most beautiful scenes in the whole gospel. remember, peter has denied jesus. you would think that the person that you had betrayed you would want to shrink from, but peter does just the opposite. rather than being embarrassed, he goes towards him. so it's a sign that he really knows who jesus is, he knows that he is going to be forgiven. >> do you love me more than these? >> yes. >> do you love me? >> you know that i love you. >> do you love me? >> lord, you know everything.
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you know that i love you. >> in the same way that peter denies knowing jesus three times before the crucifixion, so he recommits his life to jesus three times after the resurrection, committing to feeding the flock of the disciples, and ultimately being their leader. >> feed my sheep. >> "feed my sheep." it's a beautiful, poignant moment of restoration. >> it's the moment where peter is, once again, the rock. he's re-established as the rock who will be key in the early christian movement. >> peter was convinced that jesus was the messiah and became resolute in spreading that message. >> peter isn't just static in jerusalem. he doesn't just stay in jerusalem. he does go out on mission.
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he's talked about as someone who takes the mission to other jews. >> but did peter take jesus' message to the heart of the roman empire? according to christian tradition, he did. >> this is ponta sant-angelo, and it's a very famous bridge in rome, and it's lined with large statues of angels on either side, but if you go to the end of the bridge, you see that there's a big statue of peter there. it shows him in a very traditional way, and he's holding a set of keys. these are the metaphorical keys of the kingdom of heaven that jesus gave peter when he entrusted him to build his church upon this foundation. of all the apostles, peter is the most important one. he comes to be emblematic of this city. his statue, his image, is at every key juncture, and it's
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right there in the center of st. peter's as well. peter symbolizes this in an unbroken tradition that goes back about 1800 years in this city, and furthermore, it's uncontested. no other city claims the connection to peter that the city of rome does. >> but for centuries physical evidence proving peter came to the eternal city eluded scholars, but in the 1940s, everything changes, when beneath the vatican archaeologists discover the bones of an ancient man.
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st. peter's basilica, rome. for centuries pilgrims have flocked here to marvel at this architectural wonder, but beneath their feet is something far more precious. >> in 1939, pope pius the xii decides to create some space in what are called the grottos of the vatican, in which his own remains will be interred. >> whilst digging, a team of workmen stumble upon something
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mysterious. >> the workers discover ancient remains that seem to require further investigation. >> as war rages across europe, archaeologists, beneath st. peter's basilica continue to dig. >> the archaeologists as they dig down discover a full street of tombs, an avenue within the ancient necropolis, and they discover that it leads towards the high altar of st. peter's. >> beneath the high altar, the archaeologists discover what appear to be the bones of an ancient man. >> so everyone is enormously excited, because this is a tomb, and everyone including the pope thinks perhaps this is peter. the vatican decide to enlist the help of an anatomical expert from the university of palermo. >> the experts from the university of palermo are much less certain.
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they concluded that the remains are those of three people. one, in fact, a woman, and the remains also include those of animals as well. >> the vatican decide the remains cannot belong to peter and over the next decade the search for his bones goes cold, but that changes in the 1950s. >> in 1953, a new figure enters the drama. she is margherita guarducci. she's an expert in epigraphy, the study of ancient inscriptions. she has a family connection to the pope, and she asks for permission to look again at some of the artifacts and at the zone of archaeology itself. >> guarducci becomes fascinated by some ancient graffiti that she finds written on a wall.
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and she sees something that nobody else had seen before in these inscriptions, right, she thinks that she sees a secret language. one piece of plaster which had broken off the wall caught guarducci's eye. she thinks that the language can be translated as "peter is within." for guarducci, this is enormously exciting, and then she discovers that there are actually some bones in a nearby niche that had been discovered previously, and they had then been stored in a shoe box. >> these remains were stored away in a vatican storeroom, along with multiple artifacts that were recovered. their true significance was not evident to the people who stored them away. >> guarducci becomes convinced these bones are a significant find. >> guarducci is able to persuade the pope to have these bones analyzed by the same team from the university of palermo. amazingly, these scientists confirmed that these bones are in fact from a powerfully built man who had died between the age
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of 60 and 70. >> the bones discovered under the vatican in the 1940s place a man of the right age, in the right place, at the right time. it's quite striking that these different pieces of evidence should triangulate in this particular way. the evidence of the inscriptions and the archaeological remains, convince paul vi that these are the bones of peter, and in these circumstances, he makes a dramatic announcement to the world, to the faithful, that the remains of peter, the founder of the church in rome, have indeed been recovered. one can only imagine the excitement, both of the bishop of rome and these vatican experts. >> the bones found beneath st. peter's are the exact same bones that pope francis displayed for the first time in
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2013, but are these really peter's bones? >> once the vatican has made a statement like, "we think these are the bones of peter," no one's ever going to have the freedom to return to them in order to disprove that claim. >> the vatican believes that further scientific investigation is unnecessary, because these remains have been authenticated. >> but ever since the bones were discovered, margherita guarducci's work has come under intense criticism. >> there are a couple of problems with guarducci's claims. one is the graffiti. so there's this graffiti on a wall. it's truncated, which means it's shortened. we don't know how it finishes. guarducci says that it reads "peter is here," but other scholars have said, "well, it could actually say that peter is missing." >> i think part of margherita guarducci's story was that she wanted very much to find peter,
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you and she brought great expertise but also that desire, and when you put those two things together you have a risk, a risk of maybe exceeding or going beyond the evidence. >> as the vatican refuse further scientific analysis, we may never know if the bones really belong to peter. >> you can understand why the vatican would be so reluctant to haved bones dated, because they could always come back with the wrong answer. >> what's more, there is no definitive evidence that peter actually stepped foot in the eternal city. >> given that roman catholics think that the pope has a very special role in delivering god's message on earth, precisely because he's the descendant of peter, it is all important that peter made it there. if he didn't, then the foundations of the catholic church start to crumble.
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vatican city? at it's center, the basilica that bears the name of jesus first disciple. >> st. peter's basilica, founded on the site of the burial, and
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"tu es petrus, " "you are peter, and upon this rock, i will build my church" inscribed in the dome over st. peter's. it is at the core of roman catholicism. >> but did peter really travel to rome to lay the foundations for the catholic church? >> the new testament says nothing explicitly about peter coming to rome, and i think a lot of people would be surprised to find this out. >> the apostle paul, who we know lived in rome and whose letters make up half of the new testament, doesn't refer to peter being in the city once. >> he doesn't seem to know of him. he doesn't mention any connection between the christians there in the city and peter, and that's kind of an interesting omission. so if peter's there in the city, why doesn't paul say anything about him at all? >> the omission is all the more
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strange, because we know peter and paul knew each other. >> in and around ad 50, peter and paul meet at antioch. they meet there because peter has come from jerusalem to see the progress being made by paul's mission. >> my brother. >> when peter and paul meet in antioch, they have a fierce row. >> you were happy to sit with gentiles. >> this is an argument about how jewish you need to be in the jesus movement. paul's big idea is that the jesus movement should be open to people who are both jews and gentiles. >> we were jews by birth. >> but peter disagrees with paul. >> see that you say nothing to anyone. >> you're a hypocrite. >> it's a bust-up. they part ways at antioch and they never meet again. >> go. >> after the argument between peter and paul in antioch, peter vanishes from the pages of the new testament. this is the last that we hear of him. >> according to catholic
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tradition, at some point in the 50s, peter went to rome, and he evangelized there. >> let us pray. >> to examine the christian tradition that places peter in the eternal city, nicola denzey-lewis has come to the e catacombs of san-sebastian, central rome. it used to be called an ancient basilica. and alongside one part of the basilica, there was a dining hall, where people would come and do feasts for their dead ancestors on particular days, and by the 4th century, we know that they started also coming on the feast day associated with peter, and they would scratch things into the walls, and we can still see these walls today, and deep beneath us, when people were first excavating this, they discovered the remains of a
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first century villa. some people have speculated that maybe when peter came to rome he stayed in that villa, and he actually lived here, so that's the association with peter. not one so much of burial, but that he actually was active in this place. there's no disputing that these traditions were very, very strong. we have literary traditions. we have archaeological evidence. we have this graffiti. we have material culture. so we have a lot of circumstantial evidence, but we don't have anything that ties us back to the exact time and place which we would really need to say definitively that peter was here in this place. >> it's controversial, but could science now provide that missing evidence? professor tom higham and dr. georges kazan are relic hunters from oxford university. they aren't allowed access to the bones found beneath the vatican, so they've tracked down two teeth, believed to come from peter, to a basilica in
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tongeren, belgium. dr. kazan thinks the relics were brought here from rome in the 7th century. >> oh, look, there are the teeth, there, look, just there, two of them. >> so there's a latin inscription that says, "dua dentes, st. petre postole," "two teeth of the apostle peter." >> the two teeth are incredibly precious to the church, but the authorities have agreed to allow tom and george to carry out certain tests. >> firstly, we can use radio carbon dating, to fix an absolute date for the relics of st. peter. secondly, we can use genetic techniques that will hopefully help us to determine the ancestry of that particular individual. >> can modern science now corroborate the christian tradition that peter traveled to rome? >> so far, so good.
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>> the sampling of the tooth was pretty challenging, because it's quite a small sample, and in order to get enough material for radio carbon dating we had to use a lot of care, use a very small drill to drill as far into the tooth as we possibly could, and so it was a little bit stressful at the time, i have to say. >> i think we've got enough, so let's put this one away then. >> the samples are bagged and sent back to oxford university for analysis. >> so can science now prove, once and for all, that peter did come to rome and lay the foundations for the entire christian church? share . forever connected. the perfect gift to give this holiday. exclusively at kay. i've been telling everyone... the secret to great teeth is having healthy gums.
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peter is one of jesus' most important disciples. >> peter would have been a figure that roman christians would have been really excited to meet, because he would put them in direct contact with jesus. he knew jesus. he would be able to tell them stories about jesus. >> peter had become a great and highly respected leader. he was not merely a symbol but a
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living representative of what the life of a disciple could be, how you can overcome mistakes made in the past and carry on to serve god well. >> he is arguably jesus' closest friend. >> peter was that person who was closer than a brother. jesus was fully man, and that man needed friends, and peter was that friend. >> at the same time church tradition places peter in rome, the historian tacitus tells us the city is a very dangerous place in which to be a christian. >> in ad 64 a disastrous fire breaks out in rome, devastating areas of the city, and tacitus says that nero fixed upon the christians as those responsible.
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>> nero gathered together all the christians that he could find, rounded them up and persecuted them. >> tacitus says that the christians were subjected to exquisite tortures, and what he meant by that was that they were the victims of elaborate execution, and consumption by wild beasts and, of course, crucifixion. >> according to 3rd century writer tertullian, peter gets caught up in nero's persecutions in rome. the apostle is sentenced to be crucified, but according to later catholic tradition peter's crucifixion is very different to that of jesus.
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>> christian tradition is that peter was crucified upside down because he didn't think himself worthy to be crucified in the exact way that jesus was. >> it's strange when i think of peter hanging upside down, with the force of gravity pulling everything, with his blood rushing into his brain, with life not seeping out of him but pounding its way through his body. >> he's probably hoping that he'll soon be reunited with jesus, his best friend, and the one to whom he's committed his whole life.
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>> catholic tradition says peter's body is then removed from the cross by fellow christians and buried. >> he was supposedly crucified on the vatican hill at st. peter's, and around that place, where his bones are, is built st. peter's basilica. >> the fact that constantine built a church in the vatican suggests that constantine certainly thought that peter was buried there, and this is why he initiated this large building project to commemorate peter. >> but did peter live, preach and eventually die in the eternal city? to try and discover the truth, professor tom higham and dr. georges kazan are carbon dating a relic believed to be from peter. >> okay, georges. the results for the st. peter tooth are just about to come off the ams, and we should
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see the result any second now, just here. and it's coming out at 250 to 340 ad, so it's old, but it's not as old at st. peter. so if it's not st. peter the apostle, georges, then who is it? >> it may be a simple case of mistaken identity. there was another martyr called st. peter, who died in around 304. so it may well be a relic of st. peter, just not st. peter the apostle. >> oh, well, that would certainly fit with the date. >> however, this doesn't get us any closer to resolving the great mystery of whether st. peter actually visited rome. >> or what the status of the vatican bones is? >> exactly. >> for that, we really need to actually go and sample that material. >> but with no access to the bones found beneath the vatican, it's impossible to say
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definitively if peter really came to rome. for many, it remains a historical mystery. >> it's not impossible that peter did make the journey to rome, but there's not enough early evidence to suggest that he did. >> for christianity, peter's presence in rome is ultimately not very important. what is important for christianity is that the message of jesus did get to rome, to the heart of the empire and from there went out to the world. >> peter's a key figure that lots of people love. he links jesus with the mission of the early church. so he's that key figure in that sense, but he's also a very human character that we can all relate to. he has his failings. he's overenthusiastic at times. he keeps getting things wrong, but ultimately he pulls through. >> the question really isn't whether peter made it to rome, but the real question is whether peter's life affected rome and transformed rome.
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you cannot go to rome and say that peter did not make it to rome. rome was forever changed by the life of peter. ♪ merry christmas and welcome to this special holiday edition of new day. i'm boris sanchez. >> it is a challenge cal morning. i'm amara walker in for christi paul. just as it seemed the country was opening up again, concerns over emerging variants could spell trouble for the economy heading into next year. plus, a veteran still making a difference after her time in the military gets the surprise of a lifetime just


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