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Caution Urged On St. Paul Body Find - Analysis Not Conclusive

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Author Topic: Caution Urged On St. Paul Body Find - Analysis Not Conclusive  (Read 46 times)
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« on: July 04, 2009, 07:21:43 am »

                                              Caution urged on St Paul body find

                                   Analysis on tomb not conclusive, Vatican expert says

 (ANSA) -
Vatican City,
July 3, 2009

- A recent scientific analysis on a tomb Vatican officials believe belongs to St Paul does not ''confirm or exclude'' that the relics inside are those of the apostle, the head of the Vatican Museums' diagnostics laboratory said Friday.

Speaking at a Vatican press conference Ulderico Santamaria, who is also a science professor at Tuscia University, said the analysis did not offer conclusive proof.

However, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of the basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls where the tomb was found in 2006, said the results made him optimistic.

''Nothing is contrary and everything seems to point towards the tomb being that of the apostle, in line with a 2,000-year tradition,'' he said.

Pope Benedict XVI announced on Sunday that a probe inserted through a small hole in the tomb revealed pieces of purple and blue material, incense grains and small fragments of bone that were carbon dated to between the first and second century.

''This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of Paul the apostle,'' the pope said.

Vatican archaeologists uncovered the tomb in 2006 in a crypt under the basilica and said at the time that the fact that it was positioned exactly underneath the epigraph 'Paulo Apostolo Mart' (Paul the Apostle and Martyr) at the base of the cathedral's main altar was conclusive proof that it was the apostle's sarcophagus.

St Paul's Outside the Walls is located about three kilometres outside the ancient walls of Rome and is the largest church in the city after St Peter's.

Paul was a Roman Jew, born in Tarsus in modern-day Turkey, who started out persecuting Christians but later became possibly the greatest shaper of the Church.

He did not know Jesus in life but Christian tradition holds that he converted to Christianity after seeing a shining light on the road to Damascus.

The saint, who called himself the Apostle to the Gentiles, was a great traveller, visiting Cyprus, Asia Minor, mainland Greece, Crete, and Rome bringing the gospel of Jesus.

His 14 letters, or epistles, are largely written to churches which he had founded or visited.

They tell Christians what they should believe and how they should live but do not say much about Jesus' life and teachings.

Paul's influence on Christian thinking has, arguably, been more significant than any other single New Testament author.

His works were hugely influential on some of the great Christian thinkers and leaders of movements, including St Augustine and Martin Luther.

They have however been criticised by feminist writers for assigning women a subordinate role in the Church.

Paul is believed to have been executed for his beliefs around AD 65.

He is thought to have been beheaded, rather than crucified, because he was a Roman citizen.

According to Christian tradition, his body was buried in a vineyard by a Roman woman and a shrine grew up there before Emperor Constantine consecrated a basilica in 324.

The basilica was enlarged and restored over the centuries but had to be rebuilt in the 19th century after it was destroyed in a fire.

St Paul is the patron saint of Malta and the City of London and has also had several cities named in his honour including Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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