'Tomb of Saint Paul' found

Archaeologists in Rome believe they have discovered the tomb of St Paul. The stone coffin, containing human remains, was found during excavations at St Paul Outside the Walls Basilica.

Giorgio Filippi, an archaeologist with the Vatican Museum, said: "The tomb that we discovered is the one that the popes and the Emperor Theodosius (379- 395) saved and presented to the whole world as being the tomb of the apostle."

The discovery was made by a team of experts from the Vatican Museum. They began their exploration in response to a request from the administrator of St Paul's Basilica, Archbishop Francesco Gioia. During the Jubilee Year 2000, the archbishop noticed that thousands of pilgrims were inquiring about the location of St Paul's tomb. Filippi said that Church officials would now have to decide whether to undertake further explorations around the tomb, to make the sarcophagus more visible.

In St Peter's Basilica, excavations begun in 1939 finally uncovered the tomb of the first Pope in 1941. But it took 35 more years before Pope Paul VI officially recognised the tomb in 1976. It may take a similar length of time before the Church confirms that this new discovery is truly that of St Paul the apostle. Source: VIS/BBC