Evidence of St Peters' underground prison found

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Washington, June 25 (ANI): Archaeologists have discovered proof of the theory that St Peter was imprisoned in an underground dungeon by the Emperor Nero before being crucified.

Italian archaeologists have found frescoes and other evidence that indicate that it was associated with St Peter as early as the 7th century.

"It was converted from being a prison into a focus of cult-like worship of St Peter by the 7th century at the latest, maybe earlier.

"It was a very rapid transformation. We think that by the 8th century, it was being used as a church. It would have been wonderful to find a document with his [St Peter's] name on it, but of course that was always going to be extremely unlikely," The Telegraph quoted Dr Patrizia Fortini, of Rome's department of archaeology for Rome, as saying.

Peter was crucified upside down, in AD64. He was buried on a low hill on which, 250 years later, the Emperor Constantine built the first Basilica of St Peter.

In the 17th century a church - St Joseph of the Carpenters - was built over the Mamertine Prison and it still stands today, overlooking the ruins of the Roman Forum bearing the words "The Prison of the Apostolic Saints Peter and Paul" and a marble carving of the two bearded martyrs peering glumly through prison bars.

When Charles Dickens visited the site in the 19th century he described "the dread and gloom of the ponderous, obdurate old prison".

Hanging on the walls he found "rusty daggers, knives, pistols, clubs, divers instruments of violence and murder brought here fresh from use". (ANI)

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