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Pope: Bones Found in Rome Tomb Belong to Apostle Paul

Pope Benedict XVI says bone fragments found in a tomb beneath the floor of Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside-The-Walls are probably remains of the Apostle Paul.

The pontiff announced Sunday that carbon dating tests run on the fragments, which were found inside a stone sarcophagus discovered beneath the floor of the basilica, confirm that they date from 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, speaking Sunday at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-The-Walls.

Christians have traditionally believed St. Paul was buried beneath the main altar of the basilica, which was built in the late fourth century. The 8-foot-long sarcophagus containing the bone fragments was discovered in 2002.

The pope's announcement came on the eve of the Feasts of St. Peter and St. Paul, a major feast day for the Roman Catholic Church.

Paul and Peter are regarded by the faithful as the greatest early Christian missionaries.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.