Tuesday, March 25, 2014

St. Peter's Bones by Thomas J. Craughwell

St. Peter's Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found . . . and Then Lost and Found AgainSt. Peter's Bones: How the Relics of the First Pope Were Lost and Found . . . and Then Lost and Found Again by Thomas J. Craughwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In 1939, while reconstructing the grottoes below St. Peter's Basilica, a workman's shovel struck not dirt or rock but open air. After inspecting what could be seen through the hole they'd made in the mausoleum's roof, Pope Pius XII secretly authorized a full-scale excavation. What lay beneath?
This book was interesting and well written as one would expect from Thomas J. Craughwell. However, it had a major structural flaw. What I was interested in was the discovery of St. Peter's bones by the archaeologists excavating the catacombs. Every time the action reached a peak moment the next chapter would stop and drag us back into Christian history, completely stopping the momentum and eventually frustrating me to the point where I just would skip the history in order to get back to the main story.

It is a fine thing, one supposes, to educate as one goes, but in this case it not only messed with the book overall but felt as if one were being forced to have a history lesson.

You won't be wasting your time in reading this book but a far better telling can be found in The Bones of Saint Peter by John Evangelist Walsh (my review here). He just tells the exciting story with historical bits wound in only as necessary for understanding.

St. Peter's Bones has a small amount of updated developments since the 1982 publication of The Bones of Saint Peter so there is that going for it.

NOTICE: This book was provided by the publisher for me to review. I think it's pretty obvious I didn't let that influence me.

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