Vatican Publicly Reveals Bone Fragments Believed to be St. Peter’s

The relics were displayed for the first time at mass Sunday

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Andrew Medichini / AP

Pope Francis celebrates a mass for the end of the Year of Faith, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Nov. 24.

Bone fragments said to belong to St. Peter, the first pope, and previously exhibited solely for the pope were on public display for the first time at a Vatican mass Sunday.

Pope Francis prayed before the bones, which were revealed in a bronze case near the alter at a mass celebrating the end of the Year of Faith in St. Peter’s Square, the Associated Press reports.

The remains were discovered in a monument unearthed during an excavation of St. Peter’s Basilica after the death Pope Pius XI in 1939. The divisive relics have long been a source of debate, with some archeologists and theologians vehemently denying their legitimacy.