Skip to comments.Vatican archaeologists unearth St. Paul's tomb
Posted on 12/06/2006 6:18:21 AM PST by NYer
Vatican archaeologists have unearthed a sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul that had been buried beneath Rome's second largest basilica. The sarcophagus, which dates back to at least 390 A.D., has been the subject of an extended excavation that began in 2002 and was completed last month, the project's head said this week.
"Our objective was to bring the remains of the tomb back to light for devotional reasons, so that it could be venerated and be visible," said Giorgio Filippi, the Vatican archaeologist who headed the project at St. Paul Outside the Walls basilica.
The interior of the sarcophagus has not yet been explored, but Filippi didn't rule out the possibility of doing so in the future.
Two ancient churches that once stood at the site of the current basilica were successively built over the spot where tradition said the saint had been buried. The second church, built by the Roman emperor Theodosius in the fourth century, left the tomb visible, first above ground and later in a crypt.
When a fire destroyed the church in 1823, the current basilica was built and the ancient crypt was filled with earth and covered by a new altar.
"We were always certain that the tomb had to be there beneath the papal altar," Filippi told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
Filippi said that the decision to make the sarcophagus visible again was taken after many pilgrims who came to Rome during the Catholic Church's 2000 Jubilee year expressed disappointment at finding that the saint's tomb could not be visited or touched.
The findings of the project will be officially presented during a news conference at the Vatican on Monday.
And what are you, then?!
Next you'll be suggesting that true Chritianity began sometime prior to 500 years ago.
I am Franch! Why do you think I have this outrrrrageous accenta!?!
"Isn't 'ancestor worship' an ancient pagan practice?"
"But it would be wrong and ignorant for anyone to cite this as further indication that Roman Catholics worship idols."
""venerated and be visible" = bring more money into the Catholic Church"
No I bet he would of wanted a bunch of self important ignoramuses to sit in waiting for any chance to insult fellow members of the Body of Christ.
It began 501 years ago ... Levi's button-fly jeans (501s) were designed to celebrate that fact.
I'd have thought you knew!
I've noted only one person here has insulted others by calling them "self important ignoramuses".
Now, if you're done throwing insults, how about answering the question: Would the Apostle Paul himself be in favor of people venerating his casket? If you don't know him or his teachings well enough to answer, that's ok.
The use of relics has some, although limited, basis in Sacred Scripture. In II Kings 2:9-14, the Prophet Elisha picked-up the mantle of Elijah, after he had been taken up to heaven in a whirlwind; with it, Elisha struck the water of the Jordan, which then parted so that he could cross.
In another passage (II Kings 13:20-21), some people hurriedly bury a dead man in the grave of Elisha, "but when the man came into contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet." In Acts of the Apostles we read, "Meanwhile, God worked extraordinary miracles at the hands of Paul. When handkerchiefs or cloths which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them" (Acts 19:11-12). In these three passages, a reverence was given to the actual body or clothing of these very holy people who were indeed God's chosen instruments — Elijah, Elisha, and St. Paul. Indeed, miracles were connected with these "relics" — not that some magical power existed in them, but just as God's work was done through the lives of these holy men, so did His work continue after their deaths. Likewise, just as people were drawn closer to God through the lives of these holy men, so did they (even if through their remains) inspire others to draw closer even after their deaths. This perspective provides the Church's understanding of relics.
The veneration of relics of the saints is found in the early history of the Church. A letter written by the faithful of the Church in Smyrna in the year 156 provides an account of the death of St. Polycarp, their bishop, who was burned at the stake. The letter reads, "We took up the bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy, and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom." Essentially, the relics — the bones and other remains of St. Polycarp — were buried, and the tomb itself was the "reliquary." Other accounts attest that the faithful visited the burial places of the saints and miracles occurred. Moreover, at this time, we see the development of "feast days" marking the death of the saint, the celebration of Mass at the burial place and a veneration of the remains.
After the legalization of the Church in 313, the tombs of saints were opened and the actual relics were venerated by the faithful. A bone or other bodily part was placed in a reliquary — a box, locket and later a glass case — for veneration. This practice especially grew in the Eastern Church, while the practice of touching cloth to the remains of the saint was more common in the West. By the time of the Merovingian and Carolingian periods of the Middle Ages, the use of reliquaries was common throughout the whole Church.
The Church strived to keep the use of relics in perspective. In his Letter to Riparius, St. Jerome (d. 420) wrote in defense of relics: "We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are."
Here we need to pause for a moment. Perhaps in our technological age, the whole idea of relics may seem "strange." Remember, all of us treasure things that have belonged to someone we love — a piece of clothing, another personal item, a lock of hair. Those "relics" remind us of the love we share with that person while he was still living and even after death. Our hearts are torn when we think about disposing of the very personal things of a deceased loved one. Even from an historical sense, at Ford's Theater Museum for instance, we can see things that belonged to President Lincoln, including the blood stained pillow on which he died. More importantly, we treasure the relics of saints, the holy instruments of God.
He wouldn't care, because he would know that veneration is not worship--a fact that Protestants can't seem to get their minds around.
Think "Washington Monument", "Lincoln Memorial", "Jefferson Memorial" to get the REAL idea of what "veneration" means.
Yes Dan, it would be wrong and ignorant to conclude Catholics worship idols.
Have you ever looked up the meaning of "worship" Dan?
what gets me is the guy in my neighborhood that condemns catholics for venerating saints has Dale Earnhardt stickers plastered all over his truck.
How is that any better than venerating Saint Paul?
I'd just like to know if St. Paul's remains are really in there. And, I'd like a relic, if possible.
Insult = Pride.
Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
What are you doing in England?
That merely means that the 'presence of God' will not be there.
1 Corinthians 1:29, "That no flesh should glory in his presence."
If you're OK with that, then never mind.
1 Corinthians 1:29, "That no flesh should glory in his presence."
Link because the picture is huge ... picture is huge to see the details.
I find it ... disturbing.
The insult was born of the ignorant statements of the self important.
Implying Catholics practice "ancestor worship" as if God was God of the dead and not the LIVING isn't an insult?
Scandalously implying honoring a member of the church is equal to worship isn't an insult?? We shall worship God and not give a flip for any other? Is there no community? Is that the God of the Bible? No!
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