Tuesday, June 30, 2009
"paul, the apostle and martyr"
Pope Benedict delivered the news on Sunday that fragments of bones found in the tomb traditionally considered to be that of Saint Paul did indeed date from the first or second century.
Which means that, in all likelihood, they are the bones of the Apostle Paul - bones that have been there for nearly 2000 years, yet have only been discovered in our time.
Though the carbon-dating experts knew nothing of their origins, the bone fragments were recovered with a tiny probe inserted into the tomb which lies in a crypt beneath the Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls in Rome - a church believed to be built on the site where Paul was buried.
It was only three years ago that the tomb itself was discovered by Vatican archaeologists.
The fact that it was positioned exactly underneath the epigraph Paulo Apostolo Mart (Paul the Apostle and Martyr) at the base of the altar convinced them it was Paul's tomb.
Now backed by the evidence of his carbon-dated bone fragments, the Pope has announced that this seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that the bone fragments are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul.
These are inspiring new discoveries of the Christian faith's roots in actual history.
Historical research alone will never produce faith. But it has always been part of the Christian claim that it was historically rooted with real people in real places at real times.