The mysteries surrounding the tomb of St. Paul


February 5, 2012. (

Symbols of art, archeology and of course religion are all part of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. Most recently there’s been more attention on the tomb of St. Paul…and whether or not he’s actually buried in it. The story goes back centuries of course, but just a few years ago, a new phase began.

Fr. Prof Scott Brodeur S.I

Pontifical Gregorian University

“Archeologists found remains of human beings in there, through their scientific tests,they were able to determine that it went back to the first century.”

Archeologists drilled a small hole into the sarcophagus. Through a series of carbon 14 tests, the sample revealed traces of elegant purple linen, laminated with pure gold. Most importantly, they also found tiny bone fragments. For years, St. Paul’s original burial site was said to be the Basilica. But, eventually his remains were moved.

Fr. Prof Scott Brodeur S.I Pontifical Gregorian University 

“His remains remained in that place for approximately two centuries, until the middle of the 3rd century, there was a great persecution. So the Christians of that time, took his body. What remained of it, the bones, and transferred it to another sacred place. Once the persecution was over, they moved it back to the original place of burial.”

Vatican officials also said a slab of marble with the words “Paul Apostle Martyr” was found.

So, to learn more about his life before and after his death, the Pontifical Gregorian University organized a forum to introduce a book which translates precisely to “Paul Apostle Martyr,” which deals with the history, art and archeology surrounding St. Paul.

Card. Francesco Monterisi

St. Paul Basilica, Archpriest

“He’s truly the symbol for those who try and deepen their Christian beliefs in modern society.”

 Over the centuries, people came to venerate his tomb. As a way to honor him, they would leave coins as a symbol of their pilgrimage.

Fr. Prof Scott Brodeur S.I

Pontifical Gregorian University

“So there was great concern, that this was of St. Paul, this was the place and that is the very place we still venerate in the Basilica.”

Eventually in 2009, Benedict XVI said the analysis “seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul.”

Fr. Prof Scott Brodeur S.I

Pontifical Gregorian University 

“So  yes, I think it’s highly probable that the human remains that we have found in that sarcophagus are that of the Apostle of Paul.”

Since the newest discovery, it’s now more accessible for pilgrims to enter below the Basilica and pray directly before the tomb of St. Paul.