Monday, June 29, 2009

St. Paul: His Remains and a Catacomb Painting

I just read this post which informed me that a new catacomb painting of St. Paul has been found in Rome. This is the oldest extant fresco of St. Paul, which dates to the 4th century AD. Plus, this discovery is also exciting because of all of the images of St. Paul from the Early Christian period, this one is in the best condition.

This fresco was discovered in the Catacomb of St. Thekla. The catacomb is near the place where Paul was reportedly buried (the Basilica of St Paul's Outside-the-Walls in Rome). This fresco was instantly recognized as St. Paul since the thin face and dark beard were typical iconographic features for the saint in the 4th century.

You can read more about the fresco's discovery in yesterday's Telegraph article. Along these same lines, today's Telegraph article discusses test results which confirm that the remains located in St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls belong to St. Paul. (Well, probably. The remains have been confirmed to date from the first or second century.) It appears that the finding of this fresco prompted officials to test the remains inside the sarcophagus.

Pretty cool stuff. I think it's especially interesting that this fresco was restored using a laser. Technology is helping archaeologists and restorers do some amazing stuff. If lasers were never invented, do you think this fresco would have been lost forever?