Was Peter Ever in Rome?

Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome

Some Non-Catholics will say anything in order to try and "prove" that Saint Peter, the first "Bishop of Rome" was never in Rome. By doing this they hope to discredit Peter as having the primacy, and thus by so doing they attempt to deny that he was the first Pope, and therefore the Catholic claim of Apostolic Succession would fall apart. By denying Apostolic Succession they would then try to show that the Catholic Church is not the Church which Jesus Christ founded. Interestingly, if they ever reached that point (which they never could), then it would be impossible for them to fill the void of which church Jesus Christ did found if it were not the Catholic Church. So, they have presented a circular argument for themselves, an argument which has no beginning and no end.
It is a futile attempt on their part, as they completely ignore an overwhelming deposit of genuine historical documents, and expect knowledgeable people to do the same.

Here are a few of their charges...
And why they fall apart.

1. Holy Scripture does not say that Peter was ever in Rome...
Well, let us see! Holy Scripture does not deny that Peter was ever in Rome either, does it?
So nothing at all was gained by this charge, if you are a Sola Scriptura
or Bible only believer.
Is Holy Scripture supposed to be "all encompassing", and the sole source for all historical facts?
Does it say that it is? Did you ever read John 21:25?
However, surprisingly, Holy Scripture does, in fact, say that Peter was in Rome...
Peter wrote,
"The Church which is at Babylon, chosen together with you, greets you, and so does my son Mark." 1Pet 5:13.
Where is this Babylon? By the time the New Testament was written, the city of Babylon, in what is now Iraq, was of almost no importance. Its days of glory were long past in the Old Testament.
Christians were under constant persecution by both the Jews and the Romans from the very beginning and had to practice the faith underground in the homes of believers, and in the catacombs of Rome. In order to recognize one another as fellow Christians, they used code words and symbols. The fish symbol (icthos) was used for recognition, and Babylon was the code word for Rome.
If Peter had said he was writing from Rome, then no doubt, the Romans would have begun an intensive search for him.

2. Holy Scripture tells us that the Roman Emperor Claudius (41-54) ordered all Jews to leave Rome (Acts 18:2).  Peter was a Jew, but the Church was an underground Church in hiding at the time.
Well that charge to leave Rome, even implies that Peter could have been in Rome doesn't it?
Eusebius wrote in "The Chronicle" (Ad An Dom 42), that Peter, after establishing the Church in Antioch, went to Rome where he remained as Bishop of Rome for 25 years. We know from other early writings that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome in 67 A.D.. That date, minus 25 years would put him in Rome in the year 42, during the reign of Claudius. Again, this charge can be dismissed for the same reasons given already, that the Church was forced to practice the faith in an underground situation in order to avoid persecution. The Romans had a policy of hunting down and persecuting all of the Apostles.

Here are more genuine historical writings attesting to the fact that Peter was indeed in Rome, and that he died there...

St Irenaeus, "Against Heresies", 3,1,1, 180 A.D., J208
"...in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church."

St Irenaeus, "Against Heresies", chapter III,
"...the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops."

Eusebius, "History of the Church", 2,14,6, 300 A.D., J651dd
In the same reign of Claudius, the all-good and gracious providence which watches over all things guided Peter, the great and mighty one among the Apostles, who, because of his virtue, was the spokesman for all the others, to Rome."

Tertullian, "The demurrer against the heretics", chapter XXXII,1,
"...like the church of the Romans where Clement was ordained by Peter."

Who has the authority to ordain priests? Only Bishops do. Clement was ordained by the Bishop of Rome, Peter.

Saint Peter of Alexandria, "The Canonical Letter", canon 9, 306 A.D.
"Peter, the first chosen of the Apostles, having been apprehended often and thrown into prison and treated with ignominy, at last was crucified in Rome."

Eusebius, "The Chronicle" Ad An.Dom 68, J651cc
"Nero is the first, in addition to all his other crimes, to make a persecution against the Christians, in which Peter and Paul died gloriously in Rome."

Eusebius, "History of the Church", 3,2, 300 A.D., J652a
"After the martyrdom of Paul and Peter, Linus was the first appointed to the Episcopacy of the Church at Rome."

Lactantius, "Of the manner in which the persecutors died":
This letter is addressed to Donatus. It not only shows that Peter was actually in Rome, but that he died there also at the hands of Nero. Chapter II. "His apostles were at that time eleven in number, to whom were added Matthias, in the room of the traitor Judas, and afterwards Paul. Then were they dispersed throughout all the earth to preach the Gospel, as the Lord their Master had commanded them; and during twenty-five years, and until the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Nero, they occupied themselves in laying the foundations of the Church in every province and city. And while Nero reigned, the Apostle Peter came to Rome, and, through the power of God committed unto him, wrought certain miracles, and, by turning many to the true religion, built up a faithful and steadfast temple unto the Lord. When Nero heard of those things, and observed that not only in Rome, but in every other place, a great multitude revolted daily from the worship of idols, and, condemning their old ways, went over to the new religion, he, an execrable and pernicious tyrant, sprung forward to raze the heavenly temple and destroy the true faith. He it was who first persecuted the servants of God; he crucified Peter, and slew Paul: nor did he escape with impunity; for God looked on the affliction of His people; and therefore the tyrant, bereaved of authority, and precipitated from the height of empire, suddenly disappeared, and even the burial-place of that noxious wild beast was nowhere to be seen."

Saint Damasus I, "The Decree of Damasus" 3, 382 A.D., J910u
"The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it."

Saint Augustine, "Letter to Generosus", 53,1,2, 400 A.D., J1418
"If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said: "Upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it."

Has anyone ever considered archaeological evidence?
I have presented much authentic documentation that Peter was indeed in Rome, so now let us look at the physical evidence.
Peter's tomb has been found. It was found under the altar of St. Peters Basilica in Rome in 1965. The tomb is plainly marked with his name and there are human remains within it. Anyone who visits St. Peters can see the tomb for himself

Other early writings which show that Peter was indeed in Rome...

Dionysius of Corinth in his letter to the 12th Pope Soter in 170 A.D.

Clement of Corinth in his letter to the Corinthians in 70 A.D.

Peter of Alexandria, in his work called 'Penance' in 311.

St Ignatius of Antioch, in his letter to the Romans, about 107.

I have presented several early Church writings in this letter, and there are many others to show that Peter was indeed in Rome, that he and Paul founded the Church there, that he was the first Bishop of Rome, now called the Pope, and that he died there.
For those who charge that Peter was never in Rome, I challenge them to provide genuine historical documents as proof of support for their position. If they have no genuine proof of what they charge, then they have only false charges.

Here are a few books for reference...

'The Bones of St. Peter', by John Walsh.

'Catholicism and Fundamentalism', by Karl Keating, pg 204-205.

'Radio Replies', by Frs. Rumble and Carty, Vol I-370.

'Faith of the Early Fathers', by William A. Jurgens.

Written by Bob Stanley, January, 1996
Updated, April 30, 2003

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