Monday, June 29, 2009

Evidence Points to Authenticity of St. Paul's Tomb

A Reading from the Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion's mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.



I grabbed the following article today from ZENIT. The Vatican completed a scientific test on what is believed to be the remains of the Apostle Paul. The results seem to conclude that the remains belong to the 13th Apostle. How wonderful! This is good news for all Christian pilgrims who travel to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. To know that this is truly the resting place of Paul will surely help us in our meditation and contemplation of this great saint, bringing us closer to Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Evidence Points to Authenticity of St. Paul's Tomb. Pope Says Scientific Analysis Seems to Confirm Tradition

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The tomb of St. Paul may indeed contain the remains of the Apostle of the Gentiles, Benedict XVI affirmed in his homily at the closing of the Year of St. Paul.

The Pope presided at first vespers this evening for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, which marked the conclusion of the Pauline Year. The celebration took place at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, where it has traditionally been believed St. Paul was buried.

"An authentic scientific analysis" conducted on the sarcophagus conserved in the basilica, the Holy Father said, "seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul."

"A tiny hole was drilled into the sarcophagus -- which over many centuries had never been opened -- in order to insert a special probe, which revealed traces of costly purple colored linen fabric, laminated with pure gold and a blue fabric with linen filaments," Benedict XVI explained.

"Grains of red incense and protein and chalk substances were also discovered," he continued. "There were also tiny bone fragments, which were sent for carbon-14 testing by experts who were unaware of their origin. These were discovered to belong to a person who had lived between the first and second centuries."

St. Paul is said to have been beheaded at Aquas Salvias -- where the Church of Tre Fontane was then erected -- while he was buried at the place where the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls now stands, and where two basilicas -- one ordered by Emperor Constantine and the other the so-called basilica of the "Three Emperors" (Theodosius, Valentinian II and Arcadius) -- were constructed during the fourth century.

Despite the fact that the original tomb of St. Paul had been the object of profound devotion on the part of pilgrims from the beginning, over the centuries it disappeared from view and eventually could no longer be identified.

During the reconstruction of the basilica, which had been destroyed by a fire in 1823, two marble plaques dating from the time of Pope Leo the Great (440-461), which contained the barely visible inscription "Paolo Apostolo Mart" ("Paul the Apostle Martyr"), were discovered beneath the "confessio" altar.

The first archaeological inspections, which took place in 2002-2003 in the area of the "confessio," permitted the identification of the remains of the Constantinian and Theodosian basilicas.

Between May 2 and Nov. 17, 2006 excavations were carried out that brought to light a marble sarcophagus 2.5 meters long and about 1.2 meters long, which rested on layer of clay floor dating from 390, the time during which the Constantinian basilica was expanded.

Beginning in 2007, visitors were allowed to enter below the basilica's altar to pray before the tomb of the Apostle

Link

* Top left image: Martyrdom of St. Paul in Rome by beheading. Detail of Peter and Paul Window in the ambulatory of Bourges Cathedral, dating from c.1215-25.

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