February 22, 2005

Saint Paul's tomb found

Vatican archeologists believe that they have identified the tomb in Rome's St Paul Outside the Walls [S. Paolo fuori le mura] basilica, following the discovery of a stone coffin during excavations carried out over the past three years. . .

"The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius (379-395) saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle," [archeologist Giorgio] Filippi reports. . .

The excavation effort was guided by 19th-century plans for the basilica, which was largely rebuilt after a devastating fire in 1823. An initial survey enabled archeologists to reconstruct the shape of the original basilica, built early in the 4th century. A second excavation, under the main altar of the basilica, brought the Vatican team to the sarcophagus, which was located on what would have been ground level for the original 4th-century building.

From Catholic News. There's also a writeup at Discovery News, which adds a bit of detail along with a couple of howling errors (e.g., St. Paul was the author of much of the New Testament; Constantine -- who died in 337 -- built the original basilica in 386):
Archaeologists discovered the sarcophagus on what would have been the ground floor of the 4th century basilica. It was found under the altar next to a marble plaque that reads, "Apostle Paul, martyr."

"Nobody ever thought to look behind that plaque," said Filippi, who indicated that he and his team were surprised when they found the tomb.

Posted by David on February 22, 2005 10:27 PM

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