Wednesday, January 23, 2008

More on the tomb of St. Paul

It won't be excavated during the Pauline Year. [Via CNS Hub]
At a Vatican press conference Monday, Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo said Pope Benedict personally decided not to attempt an invasive investigation of the sarcophagus believed to hold St. Paul's remains — at least not during the Pauline year.

The main reason is that the marble sarcophagus lies buried beneath the main altar in the Rome Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls, and unearthing it would require too much architectural destruction.

The tomb is enclosed by a wall, apparently built to protect the area from floods, and it would make excavation very difficult if not impossible.

For much the same reason, visitors during the Pauline year will be unable to imitate an ancient pilgrim practice of lowering pieces of cloth or other objects through a hole in the tomb, in order to create secondary relics.

Visitors will at least be able to see one side of the roughly cut sarcophagus, which lies beneath an inscription: "Paul Apostle Martyr."
I will be in Rome in early March. I absolutely cannot wait to go pray at the tomb of St. Paul again.

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