Pope Claims Paul’s Bones In Rome

Statue of “Paul” In St. John’s Lateran, Rome (June 2009)


The Pope is claiming that the bones of the Apostle Paul may have been identified:

Pope says tests support saga of St. Paul’s bones
Carbon dating indicates remains in Rome were from 1st or 2nd century
Associated Press – June 28, 2009

ROME – The first-ever scientific tests on what are believed to be the remains of the Apostle Paul “seem to conclude” that they do indeed belong to the Roman Catholic saint, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday.

Archaeologists recently unearthed and opened the white marble sarcophagus located under the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome, which for almost 2,000 years has been believed by the faithful to be the tomb of St. Paul.

Benedict said scientists had conducted carbon dating tests on bone fragments found inside the sarcophagus and confirmed that they date from the first or second century.

“This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul,” Benedict said, announcing the findings at a service in the basilica to mark the end of the Vatican’s Paoline year, in honor of the apostle.

Paul and Peter are the two main figures known for spreading the Christian faith after the death of Christ.

According to tradition, St. Paul, also known as the apostle of the Gentiles, was beheaded in Rome in the 1st century during the persecution of early Christians by Roman emperors. Popular belief holds that bone fragments from his head are in another Rome basilica, St. John Lateran, with his other remains inside the sarcophagus.

‘Precious’ purple linen found

The pope said that when archaeologists opened the sarcophagus, they discovered alongside the bone fragments some grains of incense, a “precious” piece of purple linen with gold sequins and a blue fabric with linen filaments.

Vatican archaeologists in 2002 began excavating the 8-foot-long (2.5-meter-long) coffin, which dates from at least A.D. 390 and was buried under the basilica’s main altar. The decision to unearth it was made after pilgrims who came to Rome during the Roman Catholic Church’s 2000 Jubilee year expressed disappointment at finding that the saint’s tomb — buried under layers of plaster and further hidden by an iron grate — could not be visited or touched…

Monday is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a major feast day for the Roman Catholic Church…


There are at least two problems with this declaration.

The first is if the bones are from the second century (as the Pope suggested that they may be), this would eliminate the Apostle Paul as even all Catholic sources say he died in the first century.

The second is that this declaration seems to be in contradiction to an 8th century Catholic report that Paul’s remains were in England:

The letters of the Apostolic Pope…the following letter was sent back into Britain to King Oswy:…Nevertheless, we have caused the blessed gifts of the saints, that is, the relics of the blessed Apostles, Peter and Paul, and of the holy martyrs, Laurentius, John, and Paul, and Gregory, and Pancratius, to be given to your servants, the bearers of these our letters, to be by them delivered to your Excellency.”
Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England Chapter XXIX, author: Bede, St. (“The Venerable,” c. 673-735) http://www.ccel.org/ccel/bede/history.v.iii.xxix.html

Thus, for the Pope to declare this “seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul” seems to be in error.  The “tradition” has been contested.

However, it is certainly possible that some of Paul’s bones were in Rome and as unlikely as it seems, if they were there, then some could possibly be found.

Some articles of possibly related interest may include:

The Apostle Paul He was a later apostle, but also an early Christian leader.
Which Is Faithful: The Roman Catholic Church or the Living Church of God? Do you know that both groups shared a lot of the earliest teachings? Do you know which church changed? Do you know which group is most faithful to the teachings of the apostolic church? Which group best represents true Christianity? This documented article answers those questions. Português: Qual é fiel: A igreja católica romana ou a igreja viva do deus? Tambien Español: Cuál es fiel: ¿La iglesia católica romana o La Iglesia del Dios Viviente? Auch: Deutsch: Welches zuverlässig ist: Die Römisch-katholische Kirche oder die lebende Kirche von Gott?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?

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