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Vatican used nighttime mission to gather relics from St. Paul's tomb
cns ^ | July 6, 2009 | Sarah Delaney

Posted on 07/06/2009 1:49:59 PM PDT by NYer

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Vatican technicians entered the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in the dead of night, drilled a small hole in the tomb under the main altar and extracted fragments of what was inside.

The results were a closely held secret for more than two years.

Pope Benedict XVI announced June 28 that tests performed on bone fragments from the tomb demonstrate they could be the remains of the Apostle Paul, because carbon-14 tests concluded the bones belonged to a human being who lived between the first and second century.

Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, who served as archpriest of the basilica, told a press conference July 3 that the laboratory tests "evidently agree with the tradition that the tomb is of St. Paul."

But Ulderico Santamaria, director of the diagnostic laboratory for conservation and restoration at the Vatican Museums, was a bit more cautious, saying the bones could be those of the saint "because the analyses do not contradict it. Personally, I am in line with the Holy Father, but as a person of science, I stop at the objective data, which only give indications."

Santamaria showed reporters images of the relics that had been enlarged with electronic microscopes and dated May 12, 2007, showing a time of 1:15 a.m., an hour when the basilica would have been empty so that technicians could work freely and not be seen.

With a microsurgical probe introduced through a tiny hole drilled into the top marble slab of the sarcophagus, Vatican technicians were able to take pictures and collect material with little disturbance to the relics, Santamaria said.

They found microscopic fragments of human bony material, he said, which were subjected to carbon-14 dating. Technicians also found wool and linen fibers covered with gold or dyed in royal purple and indigo, precious materials indicating the burial of an important person.

Grains of incense were also among the materials grasped by the surgical-type tweezers, Santamaria said.

"None of the analyses so far carried out, including the carbon test, are contrary to the likely idea that they could be the remains of the apostle," he said.

The basilica has long been held to be the burial site of St. Paul, but because of the destruction and rebuilding of the basilica, the exact location of the tomb was unknown for centuries. Vatican officials announced in December 2006 that several feet below the basilica's main altar and behind a smaller altar, they had found a roughly cut marble sarcophagus beneath an inscription that reads: "Paul Apostle Martyr."

Because part of the sarcophagus is buried beneath building material, Vatican officials determined they could not dig it out to open and examine the contents. Initially they tried to X-ray it to see what was inside, but the marble was too thick.

Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo said introducing a probe into the sarcophagus was an idea approved by Pope Benedict some four years ago.

The cardinal and Santamaria both explained that the slab of marble covering the sarcophagus is marked with circular carvings into which pilgrims once dipped pieces of cloth, which they believed would touch the body of the saint, making them what the cardinal described as "contact relics."

They both explained, however, that those carvings had not penetrated the tomb and that the tiny perforation drilled by Vatican technicians was the only opening.

Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo said that the tomb had been "closed and sealed, and had never been opened."

The cardinal said that a complete opening of the tomb in the future had not been ruled out, although there was no concrete plan at the moment to do so. Such a project would be a major operation requiring the approval of the pope, he said. It would entail dismantling the papal altar, extracting the very large sarcophagus and transporting it to a laboratory to be opened and studied.

"One day perhaps it could be studied; this idea has not been excluded," the cardinal said, adding that further analyses could include DNA testing on the human material found.

Santamaria said that the testing had been carried out by laboratories "within the network of the Vatican Museums." Technicians did not know the origin of the material they were testing, he said.

The bony fragments found were not sufficiently large to permit DNA testing, Santamaria said. Likewise, the tiny dimensions of the fiber optics used to illuminate the interior of the sarcophagus and to take photographs did not permit a complete viewing of the large tomb.

The press conference was conducted the same day the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict had accepted the resignation of Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, who will celebrate his 84th birthday in August. The pope chose as the new archpriest of the basilica Archbishop Francesco Monterisi, who served as secretary of the Congregation for Bishops until July 3, his 75th birthday.



TOPICS: Catholic; Religion & Science
KEYWORDS: apostlepaul; archaeology; catholic; dna; genetics; stpaul

1 posted on 07/06/2009 1:49:59 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...

Catholic ping!


2 posted on 07/06/2009 1:50:27 PM PDT by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone"- Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer

This is very exciting!


3 posted on 07/06/2009 1:54:20 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: NYer

Wonder what the young earth creationists have to say about the Pope validating C-14 dating?


4 posted on 07/06/2009 2:00:36 PM PDT by fso301
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To: fso301

If the Bible is truly understood, there is no conflict regarding C-14.


5 posted on 07/06/2009 2:06:16 PM PDT by DonaldC
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To: fso301
Usually the YEC crowd embrace any scientific finding only to the extent that it buttresses their weak faith.

For example, many of those who utterly dismiss the notion of common descent of species and the methodologies used to discern them; enthusiastically embrace these same methodologies when used to determine that, contrary to assertions of such in the Book of Mormon, Native Americans are not descended from a Semitic people, but from an Asiatic one.

6 posted on 07/06/2009 2:07:20 PM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: NYer

This is pretty funny, because there were plenty of us freepers asking, “why don’t they just” do exactly what they just did.


7 posted on 07/06/2009 2:18:48 PM PDT by dangus
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To: fso301

U-236 dating might be a problem for some creationists, but C-14 has such a short half-life, it’s not an issue.


8 posted on 07/06/2009 2:20:48 PM PDT by dangus
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To: NYer
The bony fragments found were not sufficiently large to permit DNA testing,

Would this have helped? Does anyone have the Apostle Paul DNA to match it against?

9 posted on 07/06/2009 5:23:23 PM PDT by HarleyD
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To: allmendream
Which monkey did you descend from? And where in the bible does it say that God created the monkey in His image?
10 posted on 07/06/2009 5:47:01 PM PDT by guitarplayer1953
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To: guitarplayer1953
Humans are anatomically apes.

Among the apes the most similar in DNA are the human and the chimp.

When God made man in his own image it was to fashion for man an immortal spiritual soul, as God is immortal and spiritual; not a body of a bipedal ape with DNA that is over 90% the same as a chimpanzee.

So how DO you feel about the reliance upon carbon dating for confirmation that this tomb might indeed be that of Saint Peter?

11 posted on 07/06/2009 5:59:03 PM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: HarleyD
A very excellent point, but DNA sequence could have possibly been used to establish which population groups the skeleton was most likely a part of.

But yes, it would not be possible to establish a match to the Apostle Paul.

12 posted on 07/06/2009 6:02:43 PM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: allmendream
1st Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

When God made man in his own image it was to fashion for man an immortal spiritual soul, as God is immortal and spiritual; not a body of a bipedal ape with DNA that is over 90% the same as a chimpanzee.

God commanded Adam and Eve to go forth and multiply how does an inmortal soul multiply?

13 posted on 07/06/2009 6:48:17 PM PDT by guitarplayer1953
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To: allmendream
So how DO you feel about the reliance upon carbon dating for confirmation that this tomb might indeed be that of Saint Peter?

Um, this article is about the tomb of Saint Paul. The tomb of St. Peter is believed to be below the Basilica of St. Peter.

14 posted on 07/06/2009 8:48:24 PM PDT by ELS (Vivat Benedictus XVI!)
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To: guitarplayer1953
How does the soul inhabit the body? When does it? They used to teach that the body was ensouled once a woman felt it quicken in the womb, others say conception.

What does the duality of the physical and spiritual have to do with us having the body of a bipedal ape?

15 posted on 07/06/2009 10:10:27 PM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: guitarplayer1953

> And where in the bible does it say that God created the monkey in His image?

Where does it say that He didn’t?


16 posted on 07/07/2009 3:31:11 AM PDT by DieHard the Hunter (Is mise an ceann-cinnidh. Cha ghéill mi do dhuine. Fàg am bealach.)
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To: allmendream

Why do you denigrate the work of God? Man is made a little lower than the angles and that the animal life is made lower than man. Do you not think that God can and did crate man as he is?


17 posted on 07/07/2009 7:39:05 PM PDT by guitarplayer1953
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To: guitarplayer1953
Why do you denigrate the work of God?

God certainly can crate a man as he is.

God certainly can and did CREATE man as he is, and the evidence suggests that the method was evolution through natural selection of genetic variation.

God can and does create stars all around the universe even now as we speak, and the evidence suggests that the method was gravity and nuclear fusion.

18 posted on 07/07/2009 8:27:07 PM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: allmendream
The bible in all it reference to creation is in a completed form not in a evolutionary form. All of the forms of live appear in completed forms there are no transitional records are there?
19 posted on 07/07/2009 9:24:38 PM PDT by guitarplayer1953
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To: guitarplayer1953
The Bible in all its reference to creation refer to it as actions that God took over different “yoms”, not in an instantaneous moment.

Also God called for the earth and the sea to bring forth life. Do you think that just simply HAD to be a magical mystical process, or do you think that perhaps the physical laws God put into place were utilized?

And no, whales did not appear in complete form right from the beginning, the evidence suggests they transitioned from terrestrial mammals; many of which have been discovered in the fossil record.

The big mammals did not live contemporaneously with dinosaurs, there is simply no evidence to support that model OTHER THAN a simplistic interpretation of the Bible, and that is not scientific evidence.

20 posted on 07/08/2009 6:51:14 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: guitarplayer1953

And if we see a star forming from a nebulae.....

Was God any less responsible for its creation than the creation of our Sun?

Do you think a creation event can only be attributed to God if non physical means were used in the creation?


21 posted on 07/08/2009 6:53:13 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: allmendream

I believe what the bible says about how God made things whole. There are thing that are created like an embryo that grows up to be what it’s parents are. The bible says that he created the animals and they produced after their kind. A male and female of one species mate and they produce an offspring of that species. Two fish mate and have little fishes not little birds and dogs and cats. The bible says that God formed you in your mothers womb. God did not form you in a monkeys womb and your became a man or woman. That would be against what God said He did in Geneses. Why do you find it so hard to believe God’s word?


22 posted on 07/09/2009 12:29:27 AM PDT by guitarplayer1953
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To: allmendream
evidence suggests they transitioned from terrestrial mammals; many of which have been discovered in the fossil record.

What fossil records show me a whale that had legs.

23 posted on 07/09/2009 12:33:41 AM PDT by guitarplayer1953
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To: guitarplayer1953

The Bible says that God called for the land and seas to bring forth life; not that God created all species directly and in their present form.

Why do you find it so hard to believe God’s word?


24 posted on 07/09/2009 6:51:15 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: guitarplayer1953
The skeleton of a whale shows that it had legs. Several of its predecessors actually had external legs.
25 posted on 07/09/2009 6:53:11 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: guitarplayer1953

Having problems with the questions in Post #21?

And if we see a star forming from a nebulae.....

Was God any less responsible for its creation than the creation of our Sun?

Do you think a creation event can only be attributed to God if non physical means were used in the creation?


26 posted on 07/09/2009 6:54:11 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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To: ELS; allmendream

ELS,

Please don’t drag pesky facts into an emotionally charged temper tantrum.

allmendream,

Go have a cookie.


27 posted on 07/09/2009 6:58:33 AM PDT by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
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To: Grizzled Bear
In the immortal words of Steve Martin “well Excuuuuuuuuuuuse me!” ;)

Pardon my mistake. St. Paul/St. Peter is immaterial to the question of how one feels about using radiometric dating to determine if a skeleton is the proper age to be from either.

Anyone who doubts radiometric dating want to weigh in on utilizing it in this instance?

28 posted on 07/09/2009 9:12:16 AM PDT by allmendream ("Wealth is EARNED not distributed, so how could it be redistributed?")
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