Vatican City A white marble sarcophagus believed to be the final resting place of St. Paul has been unearthed from beneath the altar of Rome's second-largest basilica after centuries hidden from view, but those curious about its contents will have to wait still longer.
Vatican experts, announcing Monday that the coffin had been unearthed, said they hoped to be able to examine it more closely and maybe even look inside.
But Giorgio Filippi, a Vatican archaeologist, said researchers' first concern was to free it from centuries of plaster and debris in the hope of finding other clues on the sarcophagus itself.
According to tradition, St. Paul was beheaded in Rome in the first 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.