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    » 12/11/2006, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Saint Paul’s sarcophagus found



    The Apostle’s tomb is discovered during excavations in the basilica near the vestiges of the ancient Constantinian building. Now the Pope will decide whether it will be open for public viewing or not.

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) – It is “absolutely certain” that the sarcophagus found in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome contains the remains of St Paul. At a press conference releasing the findings of excavation work conducted in the church since 2002, Giorgio Filippi, from the Vatican Museums, announced that Vatican archaeologists are certain that the tomb uncovered was that of the saint. Card Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the basilica, said that that it “was incontrovertible based on the historical tradition” that the basilica was built on top of the Apostle’s tomb.

    “The monastery’s chronicle speaks about a big marble sarcophagus found during the rebuilding of the basilica after the 1823 fire in the Confession area, under two slabs on top of which the words ‘Paulo Apostolo Mart(yri)’ was engraved. However, unlike other sarcophagi found at that time, the saint’s tomb was not mentioned in the original excavation papers”.

    The archaeological research in the area traditionally considered the apostle’s burial place began in 2002 and ended on September 22, 2006. It brought to light “important strata constituted by the abse of the Constantinian basilica built into the transept of what is known as the Three Emperors’ building. On the latter’s floor under the papal altar a big sarcophagus was found knowledge of which had been lost and which has been considered the tomb of St Paul since the times of Emperor Theodosius”.

    Researchers were also able to measure the sarcophagus: 2.55 m (8 ft 5 in) long, 1.25 m (4 ft 2 in) wide, and 0.97 m (3 ft 2 in) high. The lid is 30 cm (1 ft) high and 12 cm (5 in) thick in its back edge. The visible section of the abse is the only evidence from the Constantinian basilica.

    The sarcophagus has not been moved nor have all of its walled in sides been examined. They might still reveal other inscriptions.

    It has still not been decided whether the sarcophagus will be on public view, the final decision ultimately falling to the Pope, and it is not yet known whether it contains any human remains or is a cenotaph, i.e. empty.

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    See also

    25/01/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Christian unity requires "all of our energy and efforts", but prayer above all
    At the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Pope Benedict XVI recalls that this event has existed for one hundred years, and that for 40 years meditations and prayers for this appointment have been prepared together with the World Council of Churches. In this bimillennial Pauline year, the effort for unity takes on special significance.

    25/01/2010 VATICAN
    Unity needed to announced the Gospel to a world marked by religious indifference, Pope says
    Benedict XVI closes the week of prayer for Christian unity citing the example of Saint Paul, witness of Jesus until his death. Evangelising “is not a task for the few, nor is it a side-line activity in the life of the Church”. He remembers the Edinburgh conference.

    28/06/2009 VATICAN
    Follow Saint Paul in one’s passion for Christ and the Gospel, says Pope
    Benedict XVI sums up the positive results of the Pauline Year which comes to an end tonight. Saint Paul is also a model for priests in this Year for Priests which just began. The Pontiff greets the parish priest and the faithful from Latakiyah (Syria). Tonight the Pontiff will preside over Vespers in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, together with representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    25/01/2015 VATICAN
    Pope: many Christians are persecuted and killed because they are Christians, regardless of their confession
    "Christian unity will not be the fruit of subtle theoretical discussions in which each party tries to convince the other of the soundness of their opinions. We need to realize that, to plumb the depths of the mystery of God, we need one another, we need to encounter one another and to challenge one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who harmonizes diversities and overcomes conflicts. Who reconciles differences".

    31/10/2013 VATICAN
    Pope: Every Christian must ask himself how he responds to the love of Jesus
    This morning Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter's, at the altar is the tomb of John Paul II. We must ask ourselves if we are like Saint Paul, for whom "no one can separate me from the love of Christ " or like “unfaithful" Jerusalem "unwilling to be loved”.



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