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Catacombs of St. Tecla
June 22nd, 2010
04:29 PM ET

Vatican: Oldest known images of apostles Andrew and John found

The oldest known image of the apostles Andrew and John have been discovered in catacombs under the city of Rome, dating back to the 4th century A.D., archaeologists announced Tuesday.

The paintings were found in the same location where the oldest known painting of St. Paul was discovered last year, the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archeology said Tuesday.

They are part of a group of paintings around an image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd on the ceiling of what is thought to have been a Roman noblewoman's tomb, experts said.

A painting of St. Peter makes up the fourth member of the group, but older images of him are thought to exist, Vatican experts said.

Their inclusion in the tomb shows the aristocrats were among the last Romans to convert to Christianity, archaeologist Fabrizio Bisconti said.

The Roman matron must have been very rich, he said, as the colors and richness of the decoration show.

The images of the apostles' heads and shoulders against a deep red background were uncovered after two years of work, Vatican experts said.

Archaeologists used a new laser technology to remove layers of white carbon calcium deposited on the frescoes over the centuries without disturbing the paintings.

They are located in the catacombs of St. Tecla, one of the 40 Roman catacombs under Rome. It sits under a modern eight-story building in a working-class neighborhood. It is closed to the public and its entrance is mostly hidden.

The Vatican spent about 60,000 euros (about $74,000) on the archaeological work, it said. The apostles were a group of a dozen men, according to Christian tradition, who spread the gospel of Jesus after his crucifixion.

- CNN.com Senior Producer

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Jesus

soundoff (342 Responses)
  1. jason

    i think people all of them believers and none have one thing in common just look at the response to this story .your all curious and that is good no matter what your opinion is hope you all make it . preacher

    June 23, 2010 at 2:17 am |
  2. Paul M

    Paul was a Jew from Turkey and a Roman citizen. How is he oriental or italian?

    June 23, 2010 at 2:17 am |
  3. Grace

    You appear to have the Hindu religion confused with some other religion.

    June 23, 2010 at 2:13 am |
  4. Nancy

    No apostles. No Jesus. No god. It's all mythology

    June 23, 2010 at 1:56 am |
    • kefftedde

      its all magic.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:58 am |
    • dalis

      @ Nancy That's not what the historical record says. There was a historical Jesus that the Roman Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus wrote about in the first century. Like it or not, Christianity happened.

      June 23, 2010 at 2:08 am |
  5. Will U

    Ha ha, Guys there is a supreme being who created us and the universe. Is left with you to believe what you believed that alone is a mindset. Wether Jesus was black, white, Chinese or middle Eastern, some of us strongly believe he's the son of God. He does not look at race as a color but as human being under one God. I do not think some group of Romans archaelogist will just see old images on the wall and conclude that the images were John and James, they must have tested their hypothesis. Get over it and have some sleep, God is real.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:50 am |
  6. Grace

    Someone did paint Jesus...look up Bette Meyer and read how her painting came about. Oh but of course, everyone will call her wingnut too.....thanks blue GRACE.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:50 am |
  7. Katherine

    Many people seem to forget that there are many gifted artists who can recall flashbacks of images or given a description of something or someone and almost eeriely draw, and even paint, a picture exactly as that object is or person looks like. I would say gifted artists were created by God for a reason, that is to say, to tell the story of what happened and who people were back in those days, including the images of Jesus Christ, Himself. So many paintings of Jesus have similar characteristics, features and so forth. You can look at thousands of paintings of Jesus, and interestingly enough, they all pretty much look the same, plus or minus the features of his skin might look darker or lighter, even his hair length might be shorter or longer, and even his beard might look shorter or longer. Additionally, his eye color might be blue in one painting and in another look brown. Basically though, the features, images and contours, if you will, of his body looks similiar. Now in matters of these apostles, it isn't any different. Features and descriptive information the gifted artists receive can paint pretty accurately, eeriely almost. Haven't you even seen modern day artist paint pictures of something or someone and had only looked about it or that person for a few second!? What if God, Himself, plants the images of these apostles inside the minds of these artists, ever think about that? Come on, folks. Jesus existed, He was here and the whole story of His life is real, not some made up story. The evidence is clear. However, I will note that I think the combination of Science and Creationism is plausible, that the first humans were ape-like, and that Lucy was Eve, and the newest male counterpart just discovered, was Adam. Adam and Eve were our first ape-like ancestors. They had sex and created Abel and Cain, and Cain was the first murderer on the planet from the beginning of time, and unfortunately caused some problems down the road for the rest of us. Abel was replaced by Seth, and it was here that we began to pray to the Lord. Later, Christ replaces the lost connection between God and mankind (or humankind). And so the genetic coding begins all the way down to Christ, Himself, all the while God knowing what He was doing. This all happened for a reason and it was God, Himself, for coming up with a solution to help humankind re-connect with Him. It's a CHOICE to reconnect with Him. Good artwork by the way and I like it. LOL

    June 23, 2010 at 1:42 am |
  8. jack

    why didn't somebody paint Jesus back then? He's the one we want to see. Maybe they did and the Jews destroyed, you think?

    June 23, 2010 at 1:41 am |
  9. wowlfie

    who cares? All religions are a fraud. A mythology based on false rewards for followers and proposition of fear for those who won't buy it.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:31 am |
    • Ronald Harper

      This is almost certainly true. So much so that we can effectively say that it is.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:38 am |
  10. jimjohn

    wait you guys were there to see him?
    what was he like?

    June 23, 2010 at 1:30 am |
  11. SynicalOne

    The irony of finding St.Peter. lol

    June 23, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  12. Grace

    Jesus has dark brown hair and deep blue violet eyes. I know this because he has revealed himself to me...twice.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:22 am |
    • Grace

      Not the same Grace as this wingnut.

      I think she's time she changed her aluminum foil helmet. The alien mind-rays are getting through again.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  13. Grace

    Somehow, I just don't think these guys lived for 300 years so that someone could do portraits of them.

    Authentic, schmauthentic.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:18 am |
    • Nite Shayde

      Authentic as in carbon dating places them at the time of whoever was buried in the crypt, genius. They're talking ARTIST authenticity, not SUBJECT.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:24 am |
    • dalis

      Sigh. They're representations, not portraits.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:25 am |
  14. Daniel-2

    I would very much like to see them if they are authentic.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:10 am |
  15. Ronald Harper

    What's good about this is it reminds people that several hundred years after they lived, people remembered these 'apostles' were traveling extensively to tell of the horrors inflicted on them by the Roman Empire. That's all the art tells us. Otherwise, they are a magnificent find for science.

    It's also good to see that people are talking about these ancient people in a manner that reflects the way they might have actually lived, and the reasons behind their movement, in between the super-naturalist dogmatic posts. This way people can start to look at this time in history and the art and writings from that period more objectively.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:06 am |
  16. LIL

    Wow,
    For a bunch of self proclaimed intelectuals you are very ignorant.
    Jeff, Jesus was a Jew lemme do some "Maff" for you 1 CHRIST + 1 Jew = CHRISTianity.

    sentinal2012, Dude.. really Christanity was in rome when Jesus was alive. Rome ordered his death as a child, read a book. I know a good one.

    Real Jesus, wow, put the pipe down. Cleopatra gave birth to Caesarion in 47 BC, the boy was Caesar’s only living child, despite already twice married and now upon his third wife.

    And for serious?? Really people?? Why must you self absorbed people always, always throw race into everything? Jesus was middle eastern. He was not black, nor was he white. His race is the same race that exists this very day. Turn on CNN you will see the same race of people in Iraq.

    Here is the very simple truth, all you have to do, I mean really .. The only thing that is required of you is that you Believe. Believe that you are not the center of the universe, believe that you are a servant and stop trying to be better than your fellow man. I apologize if I sound arrogant but the teaching has been there since before your birth. Stop listening to all the people who try and decipher what it says and read it yourself and throw away all the BS you have been fed.

    L

    June 23, 2010 at 1:03 am |
    • Greg

      With all due respect, no, he is NOT required to believe. And neither am I.
      And the term "Christ" was affixed to the mythical Jesus, it was not his last name.
      Adding to that; if there ever was a Judean man who history records as Jesus,
      he was most certainly born and raised a Jew. His mininstry was just one more offshoot of Judeasm,
      which came to eb called "Christianity" more than 200 years after his death.
      That would be about the same as the first person to call this country the United States of America
      being Jimmy Carter.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:24 am |
    • LIL

      Greg,
      You are just a little idiotic. CHRIST Go and research and I don't mean on Bing nor Google. And yes sir, yes indeed you are 100% required by your master to believe. The problem is you believe that you are more than just a servant. Furthermore Greg, your attempt at commenting on everyone's post to dis hearten the truth is sad. Simply put, you dear man are simply nothing more than a servant, that is all you are nothing more, nothing less. The very minute that you accept and understand that is the very minute you grow up out of that center of the universe ideal and step into reality.
      Now move along and learn to appreciate diversity in others a bit. I'm sure your an advocate for many things that you believe in, so stop trying to cause dis belief in others due to your own dis belief.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:38 am |
  17. John

    These are all meaningless.

    June 23, 2010 at 1:00 am |
  18. Linda

    I'll read the article again because I must've missed the part explaining how the archaeologists know the depictions are of apostles.

    June 23, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  19. Jeff Solberg

    Jesus wasn't Jewish, he was Christian... everyone knows that

    June 23, 2010 at 12:19 am |
    • dalis

      Ha!

      June 23, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  20. Greg

    Ok, now how about the oldest images of Santa Claus? Don't forget the Elves!
    (before they were making cookies in Elm trees)
    In what Galic tome did Leprechauns first appear?
    And in what ancient heiroglyph does Ra or Horus or Anubis first appear?
    I betcha there's a cave painting somewhere of the boogeyman that's over 25 thousand years old...

    Come on people...aren't we as a species a little old to have imaginary friends?

    June 22, 2010 at 11:48 pm |
    • John

      "species"...I'm no monkey's uncle, are you?

      June 23, 2010 at 1:01 am |
    • Greg

      ""species"...I'm no monkey's uncle, are you?"
      Being a monkey's uncle would infer that a monkey is descended from me, a human being.
      No. I am not a monkey's uncle, and neither are you.
      But we most certainly are descended from them.

      June 23, 2010 at 1:20 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.