Skeletons discovered in Italian cathedral belong to martyred Christian saints

April 21st, 2011 - 2:37 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Apr 21 (ANI): Experts have claimed that two skeletons that were discovered in a crypt in an Italian cathedral belong to Christian saints who were martyred in ancient Rome.

Scientists say all the evidence suggests the bones do belong to Chrysanthus and Daria, the celibate husband and wife, who were killed in 283AD for converting Romans into Christians.

Chrysanthus was the son of a Roman senator and was born in Egypt. He did not subscribe to idol worship and was plagued by doubts until turning to Christianity after being advised by a Christian sage.

Upon finding out about his son becoming a Christian, Chrysanthus’ father locked him up in his palace, and later arranged for his marriage to Daria, a vestal virgin. But the plan backfired, as she too converted.

The couple then vowed to remain celibate and devote their lives to God, and they went on to convert many in Roman society, including the tribune Claudius.

The authorities eventually arrested them, torturing Chrysanthus and sending Daria to a brothel, but according to legend the prison was turned into a garden and her honour was protected by a lioness.

The pair were sentenced to death and buried alive in a sand mine in the city in around 283AD.

The remains had been kept in the crypt of the cathedral in Reggio Emilia, a city in the north of Italy, since the 10th century.

The altar at the church had not been disturbed since 1651 but in 2008 the cathedral was renovated, and workers found more than 300 bones in one of the sealed crypts.

The skulls were packed inside a pair of silver-and-gold busts deep in a cathedral vault, which they had been transferred to nearly 500 years ago.

Ezio Fulcheri, from the University of Genoa, led the team on what was one of the first scientific investigations into saintly relics.

He conceded there was no way to identify the skeletons with complete certainty but said “all of the evidence we have gathered points toward the relics having belonged to Chrysanthus and Daria”.

“This has been a very rare opportunity to be able to study bones and other relics that relate directly back to a legend that has been passed on for almost 2,000 years,” the Mail Daily quoted Fulcheri as saying.

“The completeness of the skeletons is also rare for martyrs of this era, implying that these relics were protected and venerated in their entirety at a very early point in history,” Fulcheri stated.

The team concluded after DNA tests that the bones belonged to a woman probably in her 20s and man in his late teens.

All the characteristics of the bones tied in with descriptions of the lives of the Christian saints. (ANI)

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