CODEX: St. Peter, St. Petronilla, Mary and the Old St Peter’s Basilica
|Dyeus Pater – Proto Indo European Supreme God||Dhéǵhōm Mata||Mryt-Ymn “Merit-Amun, beloved of Amun”|
|Dyaus Pita – Hindu Supreme Deity||Dea Matrona – Frankish Supreme Goddess||Mary, in Hebrew Miryam|
|Dieus (Zeus) Pater – Greek Supreme Deity||Dione – Greek Supreme Goddess|
|Iup Piter – Roman Supreme Deity||Magna Marta – Great Mother of the Gods, Roman Supreme Goddess (Cybele)||Mater Dei – (Mary) Mother of God|
Deus, originally Dieus or Zeus, and Pater were both linguistically powerful words long before St Peter. Indeed, not only was Pita or Pata part of the etymology of the God’s, within the religion of Mithra, for example the novice, having submitted to a series of severe ordeals, prolonged fasting, flagellation, and passing through water and fire was given the title of Pater. However Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas which means Rock in Aramaic and while this is translated as Peter in English, in Latin it was Petrus which has a different etymology. There is no biblical record of Cephas visiting Rome and, of the fifty Christians that St Paul mentions meeting in Rome by name, none are Cephas. The earliest reference is in a document from 202AD which states that Cephas and Paul founded the church of Rome. Then in 220AD we have the first description of Cephas’ death by crucifixion at the orders of Nero.
Notwithstanding this, it became traditional around 100AD to make offerings at a small shrine in the growing necropolis beside Nero’s Circus to the early martyrs of the church. The site initially was on the east side of the Via Cornelia which ran along the north length of Nero’s chariot racing track, where a number of early Christians had met their martyrdom. A wall called the graffiti wall, which sits in close proximity and below the Basilica’s altar, containing christian inscriptions, is believed to be the place of veneration. Over the next three centuries mausoleums continued to be built around the site, eventually enclosing it narrowly on three sides. While cremation was the norm in burial during the 1st century AD, determined but unsuccessful efforts were made by several Popes to find the bones of St. Peter, as they attempted to be buried close to him.
The main construction of the first or old Basilica of St. Peters, with the blessing of Emperor Constantine, occurred around 320 to 330AD. This needs to be understood within the context of Constantine’s absence from Rome and other important places of worship in Rome.
Plautius Lateranus, of the famous administrative family of Lateranus, having escaped execution for his affair with Claudius’ wife, was less lucky when a plot against Nero’s life was uncovered. The family’s home, the magnificent Lateran Palace was confiscated, and eventually was in the hands of Constantine’s wife Fausta. Having steamed Fausta to death, Constantine donated the building to Pope Sylvester I. This donation later became part of the forged Donation of Constantine, created by Pope Stephan II to include all of Rome and much of the Western Roman Empire, presented as part of his negotiation with Pepe the Short of France. This building was expanded and became the Archbasilica of St John Lateran, the most important church in Christendom.
A number of buildings with Temples to Mithra in their basements were converted to churches. Recent archeological digs have confirmed Mithraeum underneath the Basilica San Clemente and the church of Santa Prisca. There may be many others.
Within this context the construction of a second basilica at the site of what was now termed the shrine of St. Peter was done in Constantine’s absence. He was only in Rome in 326AD for a few months to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his ascension, and presented fabulous decorations. Lampadius ruled Rome at the time and, along with his family, were followers of the Goddess Magna Marta, participating in several taurobolium, or bull sacrifices, in what is now St. Peter’s Square. At the taurobolium ritual, the high-priest and initiate would stand inside a pit which was in the centre of the open space which now houses St Peter’s obelisk, with four altars in each direction. A bull would be led above the pit and sacrificed above them, the blood of the bull would pour down onto the priest and initiate, showering him in the blood. After this, the bulls testicles were removed and offered on one of the altars. This relates to the story of Magna Marta (Cybele’s) love for the human Attis. Attis avoided Magna Marta’s advances by castrating himself and committing suicide. Zeus then resurrected Attis. These practises continued regularly in front of the new church built in honour of St. Peter, and the smaller chapel in honor of his daughter.
St. Peter’s daughter, St. Petronilla, almost certainly never existed. She does not appear in the 429 AD Martyrologium Hieronymianum. Prior to Mary’s deification early female christian martyrs were the only female elements venerated by the church. The legend of Aurelia Petronilla’s beauty, betrothal to a king, and death by starvation to maintain her virginity, match too closely the life of the woman first buried in what became the chapel of St. Petronilla. Originally this building was the Mausoleum of Honorarius. Empress Maria was married to the 10 year old Honararius, the last Emperor of Rome, in 394 AD. She was so beautiful, her lack of social rank was seen as no impediment. She died a virgin 13 years later in Ravenna at the estimated age of 21.
The schism between St Paul and Jesus’ brother James, first Bishop of Jerusalem, over the acceptance of gentiles into the church, circumcision, and animal sacrifice, made it possible for the gentile church to raise up Miryam (Mary) into a central female role, as the second Eve, the ever virginal Mother of God or new Dea Matrona. Marian veneration was theologically sanctioned at the Council of Ephesus in 431. This allowed newly acquired temples to Goddesses to be lightly renovated, without the expense of replacing lavish statues and mosaics. Christian stories were either modified, created, or copied to fit the illustrations on mosaics. The pilfering, or spolia, of buildings, mausoleums, temples, and even stories, dedicated to Goddesses across Rome continued for centuries. Orpheus statues became the Good Shepherd; Mary and child replaced Isis and Horus, or Semiramus and Tammuz, or Dea Matrona.
Isis’ arched wings, sun headdress, and crescent moon also are absorbed into Christian iconography.
For example, In 750AD, Pope Zachary converted the Minerva, Isis, and Serapis temples into the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, with attached convent buildings.
Amongst the Franks, even in the 8th Century, the worship of Dea Matrona, after whom the River Marne is named, was still the deity of choice. The ancient Dea Matrona was gradually usurped by the Mater Dei, the new Mother of God. Pope Zachary’s successor Stephan II was hastily elected as Rome languished under threat from rebel leaders in Lombardy. The Pope, clasping his forged Donation of Constantine, made a treaty with the powerful Frankish leader Pepin the Short, to drive the Lombardy army back. Pepin then presented the Lombardy territories to the Pope and these became the foundation for the Papal States. In return Pepin was declared the rightful King of the Franks by the Pope, his sons Charlemagne and Carloman, were hailed as Saint Peter’s adopted sons, and Saint Petronilla became the national patroness of France, with her chapel now the Chapel of France, and the burial place of French kings.