Monday, June 29, 2009

Oldest Icon of St Paul found

Above is a photo taken of the oldest known portrait of St. Paul.

The fresco, which dates back to the 4th Century AD, was discovered during restoration work at the Catacomb of Saint Thekla but was kept secret for ten days.

During that time experts carefully removed centuries of grime from the fresco with a laser, before the news was officially announced through the Vatican's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

At the same time, tests on bones long venerated as those of St. Paul himself have been dated to the first century, lending credence to the tradition of 1900 years that they are indeed his mortal remains.

According to tradition, St. Paul, also known as the apostle of the Gentiles, was beheaded in Rome in the 1st century during the persecution of early Christians by Roman emperors. Popular belief holds that bone fragments from his head are in another Rome basilica, St. John Lateran, with his other remains inside the sarcophagus.

The pope said that when archaeologists opened the sarcophagus, they discovered alongside the bone fragments some grains of incense, a "precious" piece of purple linen with gold sequins and a blue fabric with linen filaments.

This comes at a propitious time as Roman Catholics around the world are celebrating the year of St. Paul.

St Paul wrote 14 letters to Churches which he founded or visited and tell Christians what they should believe and how they should live but do not say much about Jesus' life and teachings.

He was executed for his beliefs around AD 65 and is thought to have been beheaded, rather than crucified, because he was a Roman citizen.

According to Christian tradition, his body was buried in a vineyard by a Roman woman and a shrine grew up there before Emperor Constantine consecrated a basilica in 324 which is now St Paul Outside the Walls.

St Paul's Outside the Walls is located about two miles outside the ancient walls of Rome and is the largest church in the city after St Peter's.

Today is, of course, the Feast of Ss. Peter & Paul

Readings:

Psalm 87
Ezekiel 34:11-16
2 Timothy 4:1-8
John 21:15-19

Prayer: Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

2 comments:

Dave Moody said...

If I grew my beard out pointy... Its like I'm looking in a mirror.

Rev'd Chris Larimer said...

Then there's the "kissing cousins" ikon...