Natives of Padua, in north east Italy, have a special reason to celebrate today's feast of St Luke, as new scientific evidence indicates that the remains of a man buried at a church in the town are likely to be those of the great evangelist. For centuries, the church of Santa Giustina in Padua has claimed to be the last resting place of the author of the Third Gospels. Now, DNA tests on the teeth of the skeleton, conducted by Guido Barbujani, from the University of Ferrara, show that the man was probably born in Syria, the birthplace of St Luke. Historians believe St Luke was born in Antioch in Syria about AD70, and died in the Greek city of Thebes 84 years later. His body was supposed to have been moved to Constantinople, now Istanbul, in Turkey, before being taken to Padua around 1177. However, scholars have wondered whether the body in Padua was of a Greek man who died at about the time as Luke. This would not have been an unusual fraud, in a time when there was a thriving trade in saintly relics. Dr Barbujani's team concluded that the body was three times more likely to be of Syrian origin than Greek and was likely to be that of St Luke.
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