The tomb of St Paul the Apostle has been found under one of Rome's largest churches and the stone coffin will shortly be raised to the surface to allow pilgrims to see it.
The remains of St Paul, one of the Christian Church's most important leaders and the supposed author of much of the New Testament, have been hidden under an altar at St Paul Outside-the-Walls for almost 200 years.
"I have no doubt that this is the tomb of St Paul, as revered by Christians in the fourth century," said Giorgio Filippi, the Vatican archaeologist who made the discovery.
Dr Filippi will present the results of his scientific tests on the remains of the saint on Monday at the Vatican. St Paul's sarcophagus was found after five years of extensive excavations at the church, which is second only in size to St Peter's in Rome. Dr Filippi began looking for the tomb at the request of Archbishop Francesco Gioia, within whose jurisdiction the church falls.
In 2000, the Archbishop was inundated with queries from pilgrims about the whereabouts of the saint. The same requests have persuaded the Vatican that there is enough demand from tourists to warrant raising the sarcophagus to the surface so that it can be viewed properly.
"We wanted to bring it to the light for devotional reasons so it can be venerated," said Dr Filippi.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Exciting news in the Telegraph
About the tomb of St Paul: