Church

Pope Benedict XVI Marks 60 Years as a Priest

The Catholic Herald reports:

Celebrating Mass with archbishops from 25 countries, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on his 60 years as a priest, calling it a demanding and “awe-inspiring” ministry that brought him closer to God.

The Pope’s unusually personal recollection came on the anniversary of his priestly ordination in Bavaria in 1951 and the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, the patron saints of Rome.

During the three-hour-long Mass, he gave 41 archbishops the woollen pallium as a sign of their communion with the pope and their pastoral responsibility as shepherds. Among them were four prelates from the United States, including Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, as well as Archbishop George Stack of Cardiff.

The liturgy in St Peter’s Basilica began with a fanfare of trumpets. The Pope smiled as he processed toward an altar ringed with flowers, pausing to greet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The Pope devoted most of his homily to his 60 years of priestly ministry, and twice he excused himself for perhaps speaking too long about his recollections. He said he felt he had to look back on “the things that have left their mark”…

Read more here.

And here’s a video of that event, some sixty years back:

Bible Archaeology

The Miriam, Daughter of Yeshua, Son of Caiphas Ossuary

Arutz Sheva reports  on the recovery of the ossuary belonging to Caiaphas’ granddaughter:

3 years ago  an ancient inscribed sarcophagus was turned over to the Theft Prevention Unit of the Antiquities Authority. It was discovered by grave robbers who plundered and ancient Jewish tomb site, from the period of the second temple. The sarcophagus probably came from a burial cave in the area of the Elah valley, on the Yehuda plains.

Scientists from the antiquities authority determined that the sarcophagus was for bone interment, a practice common from the first century BCE to the second century CE. The front of the sarcophagus bears the aramaic inscription “Miriam, daughter of Yeshua, son of Kipa, priest of Ma’azyah from the house of Imri”.

One of the family members, the High Priest Yehosef Ben Kipa was famous for his involvement in the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. Ma’azyah was the name of the 24th priestly service shift at the temple. Members of this family signed the convention mentioned in the book of Nehemiah (10,9). The House of Imri refers to the priestly family of Miriam, or to the location she came from.

The authenticity of the sarcophagus and inscription were verified using the technology called ESEM/EDS (Environmental Scanning Electron Microscope / Energy-Dispersive Spectrometer).

Caiaphas was the High Priest at Jesus’ trial (Matt 26:57-68).

And here is the Israel Antiquities Authority press release:

HTDr Jim West

The Telegraph also covers the news:

Israeli scholars say they have confirmed the authenticity of a 2,000-year-old burial box bearing the name of a relative of the high priest Caiaphas of the New Testament.

The ossuary bears an inscription with the name “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.”

An ossuary is a stone chest used to store bones. Caiaphas was a temple priest and an adversary of Jesus who played a key role in his crucifixion.

The Israel Antiquities Authority says the ossuary was seized from tomb robbers three years ago and has since been undergoing analysis. Forgery is common in the world of biblical artefacts.

The IAA says in Wednesday’s statement that microscopic tests have confirmed the inscription is “genuine and ancient.” 

UPDATEMore on the 2,000-year​-old burial box:

Israeli scholars have confirmed the authenticity of a 2,000-year-old burial box that appears to bear the name of a relative of the high priest Caiaphas mentioned in the New Testament, the Israel Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.

The find offers support for the existence of the biblical Caiaphas, who appears in the New Testament as a temple priest and an adversary of Jesus who played a key role in his crucifixion.

The ossuary — a stone chest used to store bones — is decorated with the stylized shapes of flowers and bears an inscription with the name “Miriam daughter of Yeshua son of Caiaphas, priest of Maaziah from Beth Imri.”

The ossuary was seized from tomb robbers three years ago, the government antiquities body said in a statement. Because it “was not found in a controlled archaeological excavation and because of its special scientific importance,” the statement said, it has been undergoing lab tests since then.

The tests, which used powerful microscopes to inspect layers of buildup on the box and inscription, were carried out by two scholars, one from Tel Aviv University and the other from Bar Ilan University, the statement said. The research indicated that the inscription is “genuine and ancient.”

Careful tests were necessary because forgery is common in the world of biblical artifacts, where a brisk black market exists and where antiquities linked in some way to the Bible can fetch millions of dollars.

A similar ossuary — bearing the inscription “James son of Joseph brother of Jesus” — is currently at the center of a fraud trial under way in Israel.

The James ossuary was exhibited to widespread acclaim as the only known archaeological link to Jesus, but lab tests run by the Israel Antiquities Authority indicated the inscription was fake. An Israeli collector has been charged with forging the ossuary and other biblical antiquities, and a verdict is pending. The collector says the box is authentic.

The scholars believe the Miriam ossuary was plundered from a tomb in the Valley of Elah, southwest of Jerusalem.

The word “maaziah” on the inscription refers to a subset of the priestly caste. Scholars believe “Beth Imri” refers either to a priestly family or to the family’s village of origin.

The above was here:

HT:   Joseph I Lauer

Bible Archaeology

6th Century Image of the Apostle Paul Found


The restoration of a tomb in the catacombs of St. Gennaro in Naples, revealed a new discovery. The image of St. Paul was found, painted in the grotto. It shows the disciple turning toward the deceased, with an expressive face, seemingly honoring the person. 

Expert say the image is from the first years of the 6th century. One of the oldest images, before St. Paul became an icon of the Byzantine civilization. 
 
The earliest image of St. Paul is from the 4th century. It was found in the Roman catacomb of St.Tecla.

UPDATE:  The Daily Mail has more:

Vatican officials today described the discovery of a 1,400 year old fresco of St Paul in an ancient Roman catacomb as ‘sensational.’

The painting was found during restoration work at the Catacombs of San Gennaro (Saint Januarius) in the port city of Naples.

A photograph released by the Vatican shows the apostle, famous for his conversion to Christianity from Judaism, with a long neck, a slightly pink complexion, thinning hair, a beard and big eyes that give his face a ‘spiritual air.’

News of the discovery was announced on the feast day of St Peter and Paul which is traditionally a bank holiday in Rome.

Striking: The fresco, in a catacomb in Naples, shows St Paul approaching a dead body, his hand raised

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, who is Pope Benedict’s Culture Minister, wrote in L’Osservatore Romano: ‘The image of St Paul has an intense expression, philosophical and its discovery enriches our image of one of the principal apostles.’

Father Antonio Loffredo, director of the catacombs in Naples, said: ‘We hope that many locals and tourists will come and look at this fresco which has been wonderfully restored.’

The figure of Paul is dressed in white and beige robes with the letter ‘I’ on the hem, which may stand for ‘Iesus’ (Latin for Jesus).

He is seen approaching a dead person.

Details on the right hand side of the fresco have crumbled away but nevertheless it still remains a striking image.

The image was verified by the Pontifical Commission of Sacred Art and verified by the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore…

Read on here

Church

St Peter and St Paul

Are the Saints of the Day:

Peter (d. 64?). St. Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter’s life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.

The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus’ death. His name is first on every list of apostles.

And to Peter only did Jesus say, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17b-19).

But the Gospels prove their own trustworthiness by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus.

He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, “What are we going to get for all this?” (see Matthew 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ’s anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Matthew 16:23b).

Peter is willing to accept Jesus’ doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus’s ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears. The Risen Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep (John 21:15-17).

Paul (d. 64?). If the most well-known preacher today suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul’s life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most Pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to other Jews as a heretical welcomer of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate.

Paul’s central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus.

Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God’s chosen people, the children of the promise.

In light of his preaching and teaching skills, Paul’s name has surfaced (among others) as a possible patron of the Internet.

Comment: We would probably go to confession to Peter sooner than to any of the other apostles. He is perhaps a more striking example of the simple fact of holiness. Jesus says to us as he said, in effect, to Peter: “It is not you who have chosen me, but I who have chosen you. Peter, it is not human wisdom that makes it possible for you to believe, but my Father’s revelation. I, not you, build my Church.” Paul’s experience of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus was the driving force that made him one of the most zealous, dynamic and courageous ambassadors of Christ the Church has ever had. But persecution, humiliation and weakness became his day-by-day carrying of the cross, material for further transformation. The dying Christ was in him; the living Christ was his life.

Church

The Church Built on Peter

After St. Peter died upside down on a cross in the Circus of Caligula and Nero, the surviving Christians obtained his body and buried him quickly nearby, on the steeply sloping Vatican Hill to the north of the Circus. That hill had become a makeshift graveyard four months earlier after the fire of Rome had killed so many residents of the metropolis that their loved ones began to use any open spot they could find on the roadsides radiating outside the city.The Christians buried Peter in a simple “poor man’s grave,” which consisted of a shallow hole in the ground, where they placed the apostle’s body, and covered it with a series of six terracotta tiles in the form of a gable. Since Peter’s pauper’s plot was on the side of a heavily inclined hill, it was in serious danger of being destroyed by erosion when the rains came. So the early Christians on two separate occasions built small, primitive brick walls around the tomb as protection. This was the way the prince of the apostles’ grave stood for almost a hundred years…

There’s more here.

Interesting…