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Remains of St. Paul may have been found
Religion News ^ | Dec 6th, 2006

Posted on 12/07/2006 11:08:06 AM PST by TaraP

ROME — 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 A.D. 390, 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 made 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.


TOPICS: Ecumenism; Religion & Culture; Religion & Science; Theology
KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs

1 posted on 12/07/2006 11:08:08 AM PST by TaraP
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To: TaraP

How will they be able to determine if the remains are indeed those of the Apostle Paul?


2 posted on 12/07/2006 11:10:25 AM PST by Bosco (Remember how you felt on September 11?)
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To: Bosco

I believe because he was the only Aposotle there at that time.


3 posted on 12/07/2006 11:15:27 AM PST by TaraP
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To: Bosco

Pretty easy, really. The thorn in the side will be a dead giveaway...


4 posted on 12/07/2006 11:19:05 AM PST by Hegemony Cricket (Attn. CBS Evening News chief: "Be a Hero - Save the World From this Cheerleader")
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To: TaraP
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,”

It bothers me greatly that one would verate the skeletal remains of a human. One should only venerate the one who rose from the dead, Christ.

5 posted on 12/07/2006 11:21:03 AM PST by BigFinn (Isa 32:8 But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.)
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To: Bosco

DNA? /whimsy


6 posted on 12/07/2006 11:29:11 AM PST by theDentist (Qwerty ergo typo : I type, therefore I misspelll.)
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To: TaraP

Are there any relics of his around?


7 posted on 12/07/2006 11:30:45 AM PST by RightWhale (RTRA DLQS GSCW)
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To: BigFinn

"It bothers me greatly that one would verate the skeletal remains of a human."

Would that apply to 'Skull & Bones' too? :-)


8 posted on 12/07/2006 11:37:35 AM PST by dgallo51 (DEMAND IMMEDIATE, OPEN INVESTIGATIONS OF U.S. COMPLICITY IN RWANDAN GENOCIDE!)
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To: TaraP
I believe because he was the only Aposotle there at that time.

Peter was (supposed to have been) killed in Rome about the same time as Paul.

9 posted on 12/07/2006 12:08:07 PM PST by Lee N. Field
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To: Lee N. Field

Given that the sarcophagos could turn out to be dated to hundreds of years after Paul's death, then it is highly likely we will never be able to prove it beyond all doubt.

Not that it will stop millions of people believing it to be him.

Interesting discovery nonetheless.


10 posted on 12/07/2006 12:12:01 PM PST by tyke
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To: BigFinn

It's kind of like having a autographed ball from your favorite baseball player....saints don't tend to sign baseballs though.


11 posted on 12/07/2006 12:12:46 PM PST by Cheverus
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To: TaraP

why would this have been burried in the first place?


12 posted on 12/07/2006 12:24:11 PM PST by kawaii
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Just adding this to the GGG catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list. Thanks.
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13 posted on 12/07/2006 12:46:21 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Thursday, November 16, 2006 https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: BigFinn

I have to ask this, as it always bothers me how (apparently) non-Catholics are always "bothered" by "veneration".

Do you venerate George Washington? Abraham Lincoln? John Kennedy?

Are there not tombs to visit? Are there not monuments that even literally represent these people for the public to see and remember? And they are not even religious figures.

Is it OK to "venerate" them but not great religious leaders?


14 posted on 12/07/2006 12:52:01 PM PST by the OlLine Rebel (Common sense is an uncommon virtue.)
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To: BigFinn

There's another thread full of that stuff.

Why don't we save this one for discussion of archaeology?


15 posted on 12/07/2006 12:53:05 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: kawaii

There was a fire in the early 1800s ... when they rebuilt the place, they were apparently in a bit of a hurry. They filled in the crypt (dumb, but they didn't ask me) and built the main altar over it.


16 posted on 12/07/2006 12:54:27 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: ArrogantBustard

It does seem bizzare to me that if they felt it was the final resting place of St Paul they wouldn't have immeadiatly set to work trying to restore it (its not like Catholics suddenly forgot they generally hold relics of Saints in high esteem...) Still (as an Orthodox Christian) I'm glad to see them being recovered now.


17 posted on 12/07/2006 1:07:42 PM PST by kawaii
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To: dgallo51

"Would that apply to 'Skull & Bones' too? :-)"

Only if it's Geronimo's head.... (sarcasm)


18 posted on 12/07/2006 1:21:41 PM PST by bobjam
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To: ArrogantBustard

From the archaeological point of view, I agree. Very interesting. i just object to the veneration part.


19 posted on 12/07/2006 1:27:41 PM PST by BigFinn (Isa 32:8 But the liberal deviseth liberal things; and by liberal things shall he stand.)
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To: Lee N. Field

PAUL WAS BEHEADED 65-70
PETER WAS CRUCIFIED 80-85


20 posted on 12/07/2006 1:38:17 PM PST by alpha-8-25-02 ("SAVED BY GRACE AND GRACE ALONE")
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To: kawaii

Perhaps the official presentation of the project (Monday, coming up) will elaborate on that.


21 posted on 12/07/2006 1:54:00 PM PST by ArrogantBustard (Western Civilisation is aborting, buggering, and contracepting itself out of existence.)
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To: BigFinn

Please, oh please, oh please. Can you guys just take the trouble to understand what Catholics believe and do BEFORE you criticize it? Is that too much to ask? I grew up in New York City a few blocks from a famous monument called "Grant's Tomb". It is a building that houses the tomb of Gen. Grant. It was built as a monument in his honor and also as a place where people could visit to honor his memory. In Washington we have the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and many other places where we HONOR the great figures of our history. Do Americans "worship" Grant at Grant's tomb. Do we "worship" the unknown soldier at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? Obviously not. We honor our dead. Read the Gettysburg Address where Lincoln is speaking at the final resting place of those who fell at the Battle of Gettysburg, and speaks of the ground where their dead bodies lay as "hallowed ground" (i.e. holy ground) and speaks about how those present at that hallowed ground were coming there to "take increased devotion" to the cause for which they had died. Do Protestants talk about how idolatrous it is to visit the cemeteries of war dead to honor their memory and to stir up devotion to our country? Do they say that the Lincoln Memorial is idolatrous worship of Lincoln? No, because they know that that would be stupid and they would be laughed at by all sensible people. So why, if it is OK to HONOR (not worship) secular figures and and take increased devotion to secular causes from honoring the sacrifices of those who died for them (or at least labored mightily for them), WHY should it be wrong to HONOR great Christian figures who died died for (or labored mightily for) the gospel?

I know; you were raised from your mother's knee to believe that we Catholics are idolators --- and what your mammy told you must be right, because she was infallible and knew so much about the Catholic faith and Catholic practices. But the fact is that we Catholics do NOT think St. Paul or any saint was God, and we do not worship them as God, any more than you worship George Washington.

If someone does not know the difference between honoring someone and worshipping him, then maybe he doesn't know what worship really is. Only someone who does not know what worship is could confuse it with mere honoring.

If you must hate Catholicism, at least let it be for what we REALLY believe and not some feverish nightmare fantasy in your own imagination. That is only fair, don't you think?


22 posted on 12/07/2006 2:05:40 PM PST by smpb (smb)
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To: Bosco

Couldn't one indication be if they determined the person was beheaded rather than crucified.

Supposedly, Paul had the "privilege" of being beheaded rather than killed in a more gruesome manner because he was a Roman citizen.


23 posted on 12/07/2006 2:57:15 PM PST by kaehurowing
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To: TaraP
“We were always certain that the tomb had to be there beneath the papal altar,”

I for one, think that they sould sarcophagus should remain where it is undesterbed.

24 posted on 12/07/2006 3:17:05 PM PST by Between the Lines (Liberalism: the insanity that results from too many people living in close proximity to one another.)
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To: TaraP
I Paul am made a minister. Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister according to the dispensation of God, which is given me towards you, that I may fulfill the word of God -- Colossians 1:24,25
25 posted on 12/07/2006 3:32:46 PM PST by Between the Lines (Liberalism: the insanity that results from too many people living in close proximity to one another.)
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To: BigFinn; dgallo51; TaraP
First off, this story was posted to FR in the News/Activism Forum several days ago and is still enjoying a long ride :-). For you who missed it - Thank You, Tara P, for reposting it to the Religion Forum.

It bothers me greatly that one would verate the skeletal remains of a human. One should only venerate the one who rose from the dead, Christ.


AP - Wed Nov 29, 5:02 PM ET In this picture provided by the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate, Pope Benedict XVI, accompanied by Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, second left, kisses an icon, next to two white boxes containing relics of saints, at the Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George in Istanbul, Turkey, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2006. The relics of two ancient saints were returned in 2004 to the Orthodox Patriarchate by late Pope John Paul II in a gesture of friendship. (AP Photo/Nikos Manginas)


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.

26 posted on 12/07/2006 6:01:06 PM PST by NYer (Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven. St. Rose of Lima)
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To: NYer
My comment was not intended to delve into the Theological realm, I was more concerned with the political, but thanks for the Theological perspective. I am no Theologian, but I would wish all Human Remains be treated with the greatest respect…the Spirit lives…leave the bones to rest in peace.
27 posted on 12/07/2006 6:08:55 PM PST by dgallo51 (DEMAND IMMEDIATE, OPEN INVESTIGATIONS OF U.S. COMPLICITY IN RWANDAN GENOCIDE!)
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To: TaraP
"Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones
And cursed be he that moves my bones." --Shakespeare, at his grave
28 posted on 12/07/2006 8:02:56 PM PST by onedoug
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To: Bosco
I would assume since the sarcophagus was made at the same time that the Church, that Emperor Theodosius commissioned to be built, that the Vatican and the Imperial Court would of known who was in the prior sarcophagus. We can only assume that those at the time prior to 390AD would of kept up with where St. Paul's tomb was.
29 posted on 12/08/2006 3:29:52 AM PST by neb52
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30 posted on 07/10/2009 8:45:12 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/__Since Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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