Archaeologists complete excavations at tomb of St Paul


 In the Holy See Press Office yesterday, a press conference was held to present recent excavations that brought to light the sarcophagus of St Paul in the Roman basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls. Participating in the conference were Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, archpriest of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls, Giorgio Filippi, archeologist, and Pier Carlo Visconti, an official from the administration of the basilica. In his talk, Cardinal Cordero Lanza de Montezemolo said the new name to be given to the four great basilicas of Rome, which from now on will be referred to as papal rather than patriarchal basilicas. He also touched on a plan to completely reorganize the basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls, part of which involves the creation of walking route for pilgrims and visitors including, among other things, a new museum area centred on the cloister. The cardinal also dwelt on the work taking place around the tomb of St Paul and mentioned a new transparent floor which will make it possible to see the remains of the basilica's Constantinian apse. For his part, Giorgio Filippi pointed out that "although it is an incontrovertible historical fact that the basilica of St Paul was built over the tomb of the Apostle, the location of the original tomb remains an open question. "The chronicles of the monastery," he added, "speaks of a great marble sarcophagus found during reconstruction work on the basilica following the great fire of 1823, in the area of the Confession, under the two stones with the inscription PAULO APOSTOLO MART[YRI]. However, there is no trace of it in the excavation documents, unlike the other sarcophagi unearthed on that occasion." "Archeological investigations in the area traditionally believed to be the Apostle's resting place, which began in 2002 and came to an end on November 22, 2006, brought to light an important area of stratification, formed by the apse of the Constantinian basilica enclosed within the transept of the building of the Three Emperors. On the floor of this building, under the papal altar, we found that great sarcophagus of which all trace had been lost, considered since the time of Theodosius to be the tomb of St Paul." Source: VIS

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