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Vatican may open St Paul’s tomb to study contents December 11, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts, Culture.
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The Vatican said yesterday it was studying the possibility of opening a thick marble sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of the 1st century apostle St Paul to study its contents.

The prospect was raised at a news conference at which Vatican officials unveiled the results of an archaeological dig which has made part of the sarcophagus in Rome’s Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls visible to pilgrims.

“We tried to X-ray it to see what was inside but the stone was too thick,” said Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza Montezemolo, archpriest of the basilica on Rome’s outskirts.

“We will now take the necessary steps to seek the authorisation to explore the inside. This is being studied,” he said, adding that the Pope would have to give eventual permission since the Vatican owns the basilica.

Montezemolo belittled some media reports that the apostle’s tomb had only now been discovered.

“There has been no doubt for the past 20 centuries that the tomb is there. It was variously visible and not visible in times past and then it was covered up. We made an opening (in the basilica floor) to make it visible at least in part,” he said.

According to Catholic tradition, St Paul was killed for his faith in the 1st century and buried on Rome’s Via Ostiense.

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