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Tests support belief that St. Paul's tomb has been discovered, Pope reveals

June 29, 2009

As he presided at ceremonies closing the Pauline Year, Pope Benedict XVI made the dramatic announcement that new scientific tests have strengthened the traditional belief that human remains buried beneath the altar of the Roman basilica of St. Paul-outside-the-Walls are those of St. Paul himself.

The Pope led a Vespers service on Sunday evening, June 28, to conclude the observance of the Pauline Year. In his homily he mentioned the initiatives that had been taken during the year, especially the pilgrimages that many Christians have made to sites connected with St. Paul's missionary journeys. Commenting then on the Apostle's letter to the Romans, the Holy Father said that the world cannot be renewed unless we ourselves undergo renewal first, and we can experience that renewal only throught the New Man, Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict also took note of St. Paul's references to an adult faith, and said that phrase has unfortunately been invoked by many Catholics who want to uphold only those truths of faith that they find comfortable for themselves.

As he neared the conclusion of his homily, the Pope announced that carbon-14 dating tests have established that bones and scraps of clothing found in the tomb below the basilica date back to the 1st century, thus supporting the belief-- which, he pointed out, has never been contested-- that this is the burial place of St. Paul. That likelihood, the Pontiff said, "fills our souls with profound emotion" as the Church pays homage to the Apostle.


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