Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Rome pilgrimage, day 3: Going underground

A highlight yesterday morning was visiting the Vatican Museum and finding myself face to face with a personal favorite, Caravaggio's massive "Entombment of Christ."

In the afternoon, I toured the Scavi—the excavations beneath St. Peter's Basilica—and prayed at St. Peter's tomb. You were in my prayers, as you have been every day that I am here. I am so grateful for yours.

Learning the history of the tomb, and particularly seeing the "Trophy" monument that was erected on the site during the middle of the second century, I marveled at the irrationality of those who reject out of hand the Church's historical claims. Here we have a victory monument that was erected on the grave of the Prince of the Apostles at a time when people were still alive whose parents or grandparents were catechized by Jesus' disciples. It is reasonable to believe that there really was a man named St. Peter who was martyred and buried on that spot, and that he was martyred because he refused to deny that he saw Jesus Christ risen from the dead. Having such historical evidence in hand, the question becomes, "Who would die for a lie?" It behooves the skeptic to at least study the life and words of Christ, as they have come down to us in the Gospels, and ponder whether this Man was who he said he was.