ROME — The first-ever scientific test on what are believed to be the remains of the Apostle Paul "seems to confirm" that they do indeed belong to the Roman Catholic saint, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday.
It was the second major discovery concerning St. Paul announced by the Vatican in as many days.
On Saturday, the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano announced the June 19 discovery of a fresco inside another tomb depicting St. Paul, which Vatican officials said represented the oldest known icon of the apostle.
Benedict said archaeologists recently unearthed and opened the white marble sarcophagus located under the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls in Rome, which for some 2,000 years has been believed by the faithful to be the tomb of St. Paul.
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.
Paul and Peter are the two main figures known for spreading the Christian faith after the death of Christ.
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.
On Saturday, the Vatican newspaper announced that a round fresco edged in gold featuring the emaciated face of St. Paul had been discovered in excavations of the tombs of St. Tecla in Rome. It was believed to have been dated from the end of the fourth century, making it the oldest known icon of St. Paul, meaning it was an image designed for prayer, not just art, L'Osservatore Romano said.
Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, presidente of the Vatican's culture department, said the discovery was an "extraordinary event" that was an "eloquent testimony" to the Christianity of the first centuries, L'Osservatore said.
Vatican archaeologists in 2002 began excavating the 8-foot(2.4-meter)-long tomb of St. Paul, which dates from at least A.D. 390 and was buried under the basilica's main altar. The decision to unearth it was made after pilgrims who came to Rome during the Roman Catholic Church's 2000 Jubilee year expressed disappointment at finding that the saint's tomb — buried under layers of plaster and further hidden by an iron grate — could not be visited or touched.
The top of the coffin has small openings — subsequently covered with mortar — because in ancient times Christians would insert offerings or try to touch the remains.
The basilica stands at the site of two 4th-century churches — including one destroyed by a fire in 1823 that had left the tomb visible, first above ground and later in a crypt. After the fire, the crypt was filled with earth and covered by a new altar. A slab of cracked marble with the words "Paul apostle martyr" in Latin was also found embedded in the floor above the tomb.
Monday is the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, a major feast day for the Roman Catholic Church, during which the pope will bestow a woolen pallium, or scarf, on all the new archbishops he has recently named. The pallium is a band of white wool decorated with black crosses that is a sign of pastoral authority and a symbol of the archbishops' bond with the pope.
At the end of Sunday's service in the warm basilica, the 82-year-old Benedict lost his balance slightly as he slipped on a step on the altar, and was steadied by one of his assistants who was by his side.Print This Post
Watch where you put your purse (and who's behind you).
Talk about a lack of piety. Long Island cops say they've caught a woman robbing congregants during church.
Patricia Adams saw an opportunity during services at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church – and it wasn't for worship. While a devout parishioner knelt down in prayer, the 46-year-old learned over a church pew and stole cash from her purse, police said. An usher saw her do it and called the cops.
Cops arrested Adams as she left the church yesterday morning. They recovered the stolen goods and returned them to the unsuspecting victim.
This wasn't the first time Adams lifted money off a hapless worshipper, however. In May, the Westbury woman jacked cash from a purse left on a pew by a woman who was receiving communion, cops said.
Adams was charged with two counts of petty larceny and released on an appearance ticket for a later court date.Print This Post
This Sunday concludes the stuff Jesus Made Up series with the parable of the Two Debtors. You can prepare by reading Luke 7:36-50.Print This Post
After having some time to consider the message from Sunday, who are you?
The son, the brother or the father?
Join us Sunday as we continue to learn more stuff Jesus made up. This week's message centers on the Prodigal Son. When I think of the stories Jesus told, the Prodigal Son is the first to come to mind. If you want to read ahead, you'll find the story at Luke 15:11-32.Print This Post
Within the last 2 years, 17% more Americans say they spend less time with family. Technology is a great thing but sometimes I wonder about the real cost. Let me know what you think after reading the article below.
NEW YORK — Whether it's around the dinner table or just in front of the TV, U.S. families say they are spending less time together.
The decline in family time coincides with a rise in Internet use and the popularity of social networks, though a new study stopped just short of assigning blame.
The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California is reporting this week that 28 percent of Americans it interviewed last year said they have been spending less time with members of their households.
That's nearly triple the 11 percent who said that in 2006.
These people did not report spending less time with their friends, however.
Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the center, said people report spending less time with family members just as social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are booming, along with the importance people place on them.
Five-year-old Facebook's active user base, for example, has surged to more than 200 million active users, up from 100 million last August.
Meanwhile, more people say they are worried about how much time kids and teenagers spend online. In 2000, when the center began its annual surveys on Americans and the Internet, only 11 percent of respondents said that family members under 18 were spending too much time online. By 2008, that grew to 28 percent.
"Most people think of the Internet and (our) digital future as boundless, and I do too," Gilbert said.
But, he added, "it can't be a good thing that families are spending less face-to-face time together. Ultimately it leads to less cohesive and less communicative families."
In the first half of the decade, people reported spending an average of 26 hours per month with their families. By 2008, however, that shared time had dropped by more than 30 percent, to about 18 hours.
The advent of new technologies has, in some ways, always changed the way family members interact.
Cell phones make it easier for parents to keep track of where their children are, while giving kids the kind of privacy they wouldn't have had in the days of landlines.
Television has cut into dinner time, and as TV sets became cheaper, they also multiplied, so that kids and parents no longer have to congregate in the living room to watch it.
But Gilbert said the Internet is so engrossing, and demands so much more attention than other technologies, that it can disrupt personal boundaries in ways other technologies wouldn't have.
"It's not like television, where you can sit around with your family and watch," he said. The Internet, he noted, is mostly one-on-one.
Likely because they can afford more Web-connected gadgets, higher-income families reported greater loss of family time than those who make less money. And more women than men said they felt ignored by a family member using the Internet.
The center's latest survey was a random poll of 2,030 people ages 12 and up was conducted April 9 to June 30, 2008, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.Print This Post
Teen Wakes Up to 3-Foot Snake Staring at Him in Bed
Monday, June 15, 2009
A New York city teen came face-to-fang with a 3-foot boa constrictor Sunday that slithered uninvited into the youngster's home — a jarring confrontation that had the whole family in a panic.
"The snake was just staring at me," said a shaken Kareem Lewis, 18.
The close encounter came around 10 a.m., when Lewis was waking up in the family's first-floor apartment on Sherman Avenue.
"I started to panic when he started to slither at me," said Lewis, whose mom was at church.
The teen called 911, and police held the snake inside a pillowcase until animal control arrived.
Lewis guessed that the snake slithered in through a window.Print This Post
As a follow up to yesterday's message, I'd like to pose the following question:
What are you persistently praying to God?
It would be great to see a lot of comments on this post.Print This Post
A lot of people have a problem with the story Jesus told of the workers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). It just doesn't seem fair to show up late and get the same pay. But, just what is fair? Join us this Sunday as Jon explores more stuff Jesus made up.Print This Post
Milwaukee (AP) - A federal judge in Wisconsin has decided to allow a public school district to hold its graduation ceremonies in a church.
U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert issued his ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State against a district in a Milwaukee suburb.
The Elmbrook School District plans to use Elmbrook Church for the June 6 and 7 commencements of two high schools.
School district officials say they chose Elmbrook Church and its 3,200-seat capacity for convenience and comfort.
The judge said holding the ceremony in a church does not necessarily constitute a church ceremony.
The plaintiffs had argued that it would be an unconstitutional violation of the divide between church and government.Print This Post
PHILADELPHIA — A U.S. court says a kindergartner's mother cannot read Scripture during show and tell, even if the Bible is the boy's favorite book.
Monday's ruling is a victory for the Marple Newtown School District in suburban Philadelphia.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says the school's decision does not violate First Amendment rights given the nonpublic nature of the classroom and the tender age of the children.
The mother, Donna Kay Busch, argues the students heard stories related to Passover, Christmas and other religious holidays.
The appeals court says there is a "significant difference" between identifying those holidays and reading from Scripture.Print This Post
Pastor David Jones and his wife Mary have been told that they cannot invite friends to their San Diego, Calif. home for a bible study — unless they are willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars to San Diego County.
"On Good Friday we had an employee from San Diego County come to our house, and inform us that the bible study that we were having was a religious assembly, and in violation of the code in the county." David Jones told FOX News.
"We told them this is not really a religious assembly — this is just a bible study with friends. We have a meal, we pray, that was all," Jones said.
A few days later, the couple received a written warning that cited "unlawful use of land," ordering them to either "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit," the couple's attorney Dean Broyles told San Diego news station 10News.
But the major use permit could cost the Jones' thousands of dollars just to have a few friends over.
For David and Mary Jones, it's about more than a question of money.
"The government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion," Broyles told FOX News. "I believe that our Founding Fathers would roll over in their grave if they saw that here in the year 2009, a pastor and his wife are being told that they cannot hold a simple bible study in their own home."
"The implications are great because it’s not only us that’s involved," Mary Jones said. "There are thousands and thousands of bible studies that are held all across the country. What we’re interested in is setting a precedent here — before it goes any further — and that we have it settled for the future."
The couple is planning to dispute the county's order this week.
If San Diego County refuses to allow the pastor and his wife to continue gathering without acquiring a permit, they will consider a lawsuit in federal court.Print This Post