Monday, June 29, 2009

St. Paul?

Hmmmm, well, the Holy Father of Rome has announced to the world that bones discovered in a certain tomb in 2006 are, in fact, those of St. Paul the Apostle. This seems rather strange, since there was nothing in the article to indicate when or how theremains were moved from where they were, according to legend, originally buried, and where they ended up. Anyway, here is the article -- From Pope claims human remains belong to St Paul Fiona Winward in Rome Monday 29 June 2009 Human remains found beneath the Vatican have been identified as belonging to St Paul, Pope Benedict XVI said, apparently laying to rest the mystery of a tomb first discovered in the city in 2006. Archaeologists found material and fragments of bone dating to the first or second century AD inside the tomb at the basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Vatican experts claim the tomb's position, underneath the epigraph Paulo Apostolo Mart (Paul the Apostle and Martyr), at the base of the main altar is proof that it belongs to the apostle. The pope said the tomb had not been opened but that a probe inserted through a small hole had revealed traces of purple linen decorated with gold sequins, blue material and red incense grains as well as the remains. "Small fragments of bone were carbon dated by experts who knew nothing about their provenance and results showed they were from someone who lived between the first and second century," he said. "This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of Paul the apostle," he said, adding that the discovery "fills our souls with great emotion". The pope made the announcement from the basilica as he celebrated the end of the Pauline year, which has marked the 2,000th anniversary of the apostle's birth. It also comes a day after Vatican archaeologists uncovered what they believe to be the oldest icon of St Paul in a Rome catacomb, dating to the late fourth century. St Paul was a Roman Jew who converted to Christianity after he saw a light on the road to Damascus. His letters in the New Testament are considered highly influential in Christian thinking. Tradition holds that Paul was beheaded by the Emperor Nero around AD 62-65 and buried in a vineyard over which the Emperor Constantine built a basilica in 324. St Paul Outside the Walls is the second biggest church in Rome after St Peter's.
But - this Dutch expert says no no no... No proof that Vatican bones are St Paul's, says Dutch expert Europe News Jun 29, 2009, 16:28 GMT Dresden, Germany - Responding to the claim by Pope Benedict XVI that the bones of St Paul have been found in Rome, a Dutch expert, Rengert Elburg, said Monday this can never be proven. Elburg, an expert on archaeological study of old bones and organic remains for the government of the German state of Saxony, told the German Press Agency dpa in an interview, 'It's impossible to establish that it's him.' Even a genetic analysis of the bones in a sarcophagus marked as Paul's would reveal nothing, because there were no proven descendants whose DNA could be compared. 'But the bones could tell you the sex and age of death of the person,' he said. A face could be reconstructed if a skull were in the grave. 'But we don't know how Paul looked, so that doesn't help identify the body,' he said. Elburg said scientists were likely to check for links to the historical account of the beheading of St Paul, the author of copious letters and first interpreter of Christianity. 'Traces of beheading can be identified with absolute certainty,' he said. The cut was usually found between the third and fourth vertebrae. Elburg counselled maximum precision in opening the sarcophagus, saying, 'It will be comparable to opening the tomb of an Egyptian pharaoh.' Fabric in a coffin could fall apart at a touch. He said dry, outside air would not damage fabric or the bones. The presence of any clothing was likely to depend on whether the sarcophagus had been hermetically sealed for 20 centuries. 'Roman fabrics in the time of St Paul were of very high quality. They had wool, linen and even silk,' he said. The pagan Romans embalmed their bodies, but Christians did not, he added. 'Doubtless nothing like that was done with this early Christian person,' he said. The Pope said Sunday that a probe through a tiny hole in the sarcophagus at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Wall proved they contained remains from the time of Christ.

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