Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bones of St Paul found (or not)

Nicole Winfield writes for the Washington Post that Pope Benedict has reported that the bones of St Paul have indeed been confirmed in the Basilica of St Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome:

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.

Am I missing something? Carbon dating only confirms that the bone fragments date from the first two centuries CE. What makes them specifically Pauline?

Meantime, a 4th century fresco has been identified as depicting St Paul according to Nick Pisa of the Daily Telegraph.

A photograph of the icon shows the thin face of a bearded man with large eyes, sunken nose and face on a red background surrounded with a yellow circle – the classic image of St Paul.

The image was found in the Catacomb of St Thekla, close to the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, which is said to be built on the site where he was buried.

Seems to me that these "discoveries" have something to do with the lectionary. Tomorrow we celebrate the Feasts of SS Peter and Paul. 'Nuff said.

1 comment:

Mark Friesland said...

The feast on June 29 is also the end of the RC "Year of Saint Paul" (and devout RC souls can acquire partial and plenary indulgences for participating in the festivities and pilgrimages associated with this year-long celebration). Some of Pope Benedict's scholarly work from the past is awesome. Sadly, some of his pastoral efforts aren't as awesome (e.g., comparing gay marriage to global warming). We (my husband and me, Episcopal and Bulgarian Orthodox) went to a papal audience at Castel Gandolfo this summer. We wanted to lovingly greet the Holy Father, up close, in his own German language so we wore logo t-shirts (which we concealed under other shirts until he came out on the balcony). We were fairly close to him. Our shirts said "Ich bin schwul - und das ist gut so!" ("I am gay and that's a good thing"). There were some other folks wearing shirts which said "stercus accidit" in Latin, which I found very funny. You can't get away with stuff like that at St.Peter's. I am not ridiculing the old custom of relics of saints, but it seems quite impossible to decide (with certainty) that very old relics are the real deal.

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