The History of Västerbro: The Dead Temple in Rome were not the apostles

For 1,500 years, what are said to be the remains of two Jesus’ disciples has been venerated in a church in Rome. However, a new study shows that the bones come from completely different people.

It has not yet been revealed how the Franciscan friars who run the Church of Sainte XII Apostoli (Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles) received the news. In any case, there is no doubt about it – the shrines that have been the center of the church’s activities since its construction in the 5th century AD do not contain the remains of James the Younger and Philip, two of Jesus’ disciples.

It appears with all clarity that is required of a new study, led by Danish researchers, which It was recently published in Heritage Science Magazine. It shows that the skeletal parts that have long been revered as relics of these disciples come from people who lived sometime between AD 214-340, about two hundred years after Jacob and Philip did so.

The results of the study shed light During a period of turmoil within the early Christian church, Professor Kar Lund Rasmussen, who led the project, says in a press release. It was during the fourth century, when the people of their remains now died in the church in Rome, Christianity switched from being outlawed and persecuted within the Roman Empire to the official state religion. In connection with this breakthrough, which was completed in the second half of the century – when ancient religions were forbidden and their temples destroyed instead – a large number of churches began to be built around the vast empire. In many of them were the relics of the Christian martyrs, remnants that were supposed to make it easier for the faithful to contact them and be blessed by God.

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Soon the demand for these relics increased so dramatically that they simply began excavating the graves of the martyrs and moving their structural parts to the mausoleum, which was then placed in the newly built churches. The first so-called mausoleum or “translation” was carried out in 354 when the remains of the martyr Babylon were taken from a cemetery in Antioch and transferred to a church in the city. There were those inside the church who objected to this way of dealing with the dead, but the new habit still prevailed.

The mortal remains can be divided into smaller pieces and distributed to different churches.

Another step was taken when a fifth-century religious scholar came to the conclusion that it was also appropriate to use small fragments of the relic: “Grace is complete in every part,” as the command was expressed. This means that you can divide the remains of the dead into smaller pieces and distribute them between different churches. In some cases, these relics were transported over long distances, as was the case with what was said to be the remains of Philip’s pupil. He suffered martyrdom in present-day Turkey long before what was later claimed to be his remains in Constantinople, before the mausoleum was later moved to Rome and then placed in the Church of Santi Apostoli.

Relief of the Apostle Philip outside Sante XII Apostoli in Rome.

Photo: Alamy

In keeping with Christianity It spread further following the custom that every newly built church must contain at least one remains. In 787, it was established during a church meeting that a new church could not be consecrated at all if there were no sacred remains there. By that time, a regular trade in antiquities arose. This applies not only to the remains of martyrs, but also to other things that are said to be related to the history of the Bible, such as the thorns from the crown of thorns Jesus, the parts of the spear with which they were stabbed, or the cutting of the cross. Who died in the end.

In many cases, the leftover trade revolved around intentional fraud. However, this does not have to be the case with the remains of James and Philip in Rome, researchers who have now investigated the matter have emphasized. Rather, it is possible, says Professor Lund Rasmussen, that those who transported the remains to the Sainte Apostoli Church believed they actually came from the two disciples. And that the matter concerns people who belong to the early Christian church, there is no doubt at all.

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