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. The LORD

    Historybuff – First off, there is no devil. Secondly, if there was, he'd be the one behind all of your "holy books," what better way to pit mankind against each other. The Bible, the Koran...it's all garbage, and if there were a devil, it would be the work of the devil.
    I mean, if I were to really write a rulebook for all of you people, believe me, it wouldn't be so inconsistent and terribly constructed as the bible. It would be clear, consistent and simple.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • The Who

      It's kind of like in grammar school when you tell a few people different stories about the other ones, then watch them all attack and bicker with each other to 'prove' who is 'right'. We humans don't change a whole lot from grammar school, do we?

      June 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • PlainJane

      Isn't there something in there about being allowed to stone people to death for wearing 'cloths of a different weave'? And can I really sell my parents into slavery? That doesn't seem like a 'good' think to do.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
    • PlainJane

      I meant 'a good THING to do'. Maybe the devil made me misspell it. Naturally, as a human, all of my mistakes must be the devil's work.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
    • The LORD

      The bible says you should be nice to your slaves...
      "And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him. " Eph "6:9
      But it also says you shouldn't enslave anyone...
      "Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death. " Exo 21:16

      But the bible puts you to death for lots of stuff!
      Anyone who attacksa his father or his mother must be put to death.
      Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      So you find the Bible difficult to understand. You said, ' if I were to really write a rulebook for all of you people, believe me, it wouldn't be so inconsistent and terribly constructed as the bible. It would be clear, consistent and simple.' Many people have the same difficulty as you do—that is why there are so many different denominations, over 30,000 since the reformation. People think they can read the Bible and come up with their own interpretation and say that is okay. No, if you find a question about what you read and can’t figure it out, ASK what it means. Ask who? The Church that put the Books of the Bible together—the Catholic Church. If you think a passage means something but it conflicts with what the Church says it means, you know you are in error. The problem people have with the Bible is that they take verses out of context to fit what they want them to mean. You need to read the Bible with each verse in how it relates to the verses around it. Then see how those verses relate to other verses talking about the same thing throughout the Bible.
      When men became proud of their learning and thought they knew better than the Author of the Book, that is when they threw out Books of the Bible, changed meanings and words to suit their ideas. There are so many different Bibles now, but always go back to the Catholic Bible, the one that has all the Books; if you want to read the Bible and when you have a question about a verse go to the Church for the answer. If you had a question about a Chevy you wouldn’t go to the Ford dealer; it just makes sense.

      June 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  2. The LORD

    I'm God.
    Jesus was a good kid, but a little crazy. His disciples were even crazier but lacked the ability to think independently.
    Mohommad tried to be a good kid, but he was crazy too.
    Moses was a genocidal maniac.
    If you think any "holy" book is 100% true, you are a shame to your species. You are the weak link.
    Now stop killing each other and try to help each other out a little bit more...bunch of idiots!

    June 22, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
    • Lindsay

      Not funny... And you'd better be careful about Who you mock. HEs real, you know.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • The LORD

      I am real.
      I know this.
      I am God...YOU are the one that should be careful about mocking ME!
      What? You think God can talk through burning bushes but can't figure out how to post on a message board?

      June 22, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • dalis

      Who needs congeniality? They have the Internet now.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
  3. Brian

    you say you've studied the Bible "old and new tesimants"[sic] at theology schools in three states. Yet, in all of your studies, at all of these different schools, you never learned how to correctly spell testament? How much studying did you really do?

    June 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • The Who

      Maybe he read it in the original Arameic and Hebrew and that's how they spelled it. ha ha. Actually, they did not call them 'testaments' though. The word is closer to mean 'story of witnesses' or 'testimonial'.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  4. Finnigan O'Hara

    Wow. And Jesus looks just like Jesus. Wow.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  5. HistoryBuff

    Satan's best weapon to steer humanity away from the only true living God is to, among other tactics, post lies that attempt to discredit the reality of Jesus Christ as God. Why else do you suppose the posts on this board are so critical? Because Satan hates God. The demons hate God. And they hate you and anyone like you who believes in God. They absolutely do not want to let you have a loving relationship with your father, Jesus.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  6. Joshua

    I thoroughly enjoy how a simple article about archaeological findings has created a slaughter of comments from across the table about religion. This article has been out for merely and hour and there are already people proclaiming to have read the entire bible and studied in theology while they can not even spell words like testament and contradiction. Before you continue to litter this wall with religious witticisms realize that this is only a statement of fact. What fact you might have to remind yourself after reading all these comments? These are the oldest recognized drawings of two apostles. That is a fact and this article's only claim. God bless.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
    • sleepygal

      But again, how do they know they are apostles and not just pictures of her fellow Christians or her family? Seems a broad assumption in any case.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
    • STEVE

      Thank you Joshua. How such a simple fact based blurb can be so distorted is incredible. They are the oldest known "representations". They did not know what the actual Apostles looked like. They had been dead for hundreds of years when those paintings were painted.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
    • dalis

      Good enough for me.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:58 pm |
  7. Richard Nixon

    Picture number 5 shows a lovely Victorian brard on this 4th century man

    June 22, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  8. iTexan

    Whether or not you believe, Jesus had the right ideas. He seemed to be a very wise and caring person/god/whatever you want to call him. We would all be better off trying to follow his example. Most of the Christians posting on this story seem to be more concerned with defending their insecurities than following Jesus's example. That does not seem very 'christian'. Food for thought?

    June 22, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
    • brownstone

      Right, follow his example. Support slavery. Burn in hell for eternity all who do not follow him including children from non christian countries who don't believe in him by accident of birth. That's Eternal Torture! Forever! Truly christian.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  9. EmElEm

    This is about as important as knowing if Adam and Eve had belly buttons.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
    • Ken

      If you're not that interested, why did you even read this article in the first place?

      June 22, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  10. Talon

    Ho hum....random images of ancient mythical people. How boring.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  11. HistoryBuff

    Interesting how evil always attempts to post critical remarks regarding God. Anyone notice? So long as you post something evil, its okay and nothing is said. But if you post something praising God, you are a called a liar or a fool. Satan's reputation if one of being very clever. His demons are very clever, as well, and charade as "intelligent, educated" beings.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • Saint Ringo

      so says the man.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • The Who

      I guess the perfect test would be the devil showing up at your front door dressed up like a 1st century hippie with long hair and linen robes. Would you let him in your home with your children? What does your faith tell you? If I were Jesus and came back today, I would pose as an ethnic homeless man and see how many people walk by me without caring. What does your faith tell you?

      June 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • STEVE

      They may not be demons but they do remind me of mean grammar school children or Lucy in the cartoon Peanuts.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • Darryl

      I think it's OK to chat about the paintings but if you don't believe in God then why are you talking about a "GOD" that doesn't exist. Are you trying to convince people that know better or are you trying to convince yourself that there is no God?

      June 22, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
    • Darryl

      I think your crazy if you don't believe in God. You have been deceived. Do you think you go to lala land when you die? or perhaps nowhere? The only reason you don't believe in God is because you don't want to. Let me ask you this; what is truth? also realize one day maybe today or 100 years from now but one day your dead body will be placed inside of a casket and your body will be lowered into the ground and covered with dirt. I pray to God that you don't think that is all there is and that's the end. it's really ashame that I can believe anything I want as long as it's not true. You don't believe because you don't want to. You will believe as you enter into the presence of God almighty as you slip into eternity you WILL stand before him and if you have not accepted God's gift of salvation and walked the walk, you WILL be judged and sent to yes "HELL" no person can convince you that God is real if your closed to the idea. I think your scared to find out that God is real. You will see upon death. Good luck!

      June 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
    • Ken

      Well said and very true.

      June 22, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
    • Dan

      Joe G: What happens to your soul? your spirit?

      June 23, 2010 at 3:23 am |
  12. sleepygal

    I think this story must be incomplete. Why do they think these men are Peter, Paul, John and Andrew? Why not Thomas, Bartholomew, James and Mark? Was there written text somewhere not shown that makes them believe it is former and not the latter or just 4 Roman emperors?

    June 22, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  13. R. Williams

    St. Andrew looks like Graham Chapman.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  14. God

    I am not real.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
    • ACM

      don't forget to say that on Judgement Day!
      don't back down....OK?!!!

      June 22, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  15. Reality

    Added evidence but with some hesitation with respect to names:

    (1a) Mark 3:13-19a
    He went up the mountain and called to him those whom he wanted, and they came to him. 14 And he appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to proclaim the message, 15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 16 So he appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); 17 James son of Zebedee and John the brother of James (to whom he gave the name Boanerges, that is, Sons of Thunder); 18 and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Cananaean, 19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

    = Matt 10:2-4
    These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.

    = Luke 6:12-16
    Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. 13 And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, and James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, 15 and Matthew, and Thomas, and James son of Alphaeus, and Simon, who was called the Zealot, 16 and Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

    (1b) GEbi 1 (= ch 2 in some editions)
    At any rate, in the gospel that they call "According to Matthew," which is not complete but adulterated and mutilated-they call it the "Hebrew" gospel-is found the following:

    There was this man named Jesus, who was about thirty years old, who chose us. 2And when he came to Capernaum, he entered the house of Simon, who was nicknamed Peter. He then began to speak as follows:
    3"As I was walking along by the lake of Tiberias, I chose John and James, sons of Zebedee, and Simon and Andrew and Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the Iscariot. 4Then I summoned you, Matthew, while you were sitting at the toll booth, and you followed me. 5Therefore, I want you to be twelve apostles, to symbolize Israel." (Epiphanius, Haer. 30.13.2f) [Complete Gospels]

    (1c) Acts 1:13b
    Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James, son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
    • brownstone

      Quoting scripture is NOT evidence. Just annoying.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  16. Saint Ringo

    the bible
    written by man
    edited by man
    proclaimed to be the word of god....by man

    June 22, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • LJB

      It was inspired by God. There are too many things that they could never have known without supernatural inspiration. Isaiah 40:22 speaks of "the circle of the earth" for before mankind discovered the earth was round. It also gives insight on how the world will end: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up."2 Peter 3:10 This sounds exactly like a nuclear blast

      June 22, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
    • dj

      I don't think you give enough credit to Greeks like Ptolemy or Egyptians like Eratosthenes. All sailors know that the earth is not flat from observation and a sphere is the simplest and most intuitive curved shape. They didn't require divine inspiration.

      June 23, 2010 at 12:51 am |
  17. texokie

    A thousand years from now when the ruins of Western civilization are sifted through, the archaelogists will find images of the Beatles. There will be an inscription that says, "We're more popular than Jesus Christ" and the scientists will conclude that a new religion sprung up in the 20th century.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  18. Brent Soules

    "because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God–because of these things which are taken away out of the Gospel of the Lamb, an exceedlingly great many do STUMBLE, yea insomuch that Satan hath great power over them" I Nephi 13:29. (Excerpt from the Book of Mormon) There are many posters on here who do stumble because they believe the Bible to be so filled with errors. It is filled with some errors; many "plain and precious things" have been taken out of it. But, nonetheless, it is the first witness of Christ. Thank heaven for other scriptural witnesses to accompany it.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • Lindsay

      The Bible: It is the ONLY witness : ) Complete and whole as is.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
    • Brent Soules

      The Bible makes room for additional scripture in many places. To assume the heavens are closed is to deny the pattern of God's workings among the inhabitants of the Earth. If you are referencing the last verses of Revelations, then you need to study the timeline of John's works; you will see that Revelation is not his final writing. Not to argue; I appreciate your testimony and faith.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
    • EmElEm

      The Bible is the word of God as far as it is translated correctly .

      June 22, 2010 at 6:00 pm |
    • Brent Soules

      @MLM: Yes.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
  19. Noocrat

    I just drew a picture of Napoleon. Anyone wanna see it? It will very clearly give you a better idea of what he looked like and is certainly proof of his existence.

    June 22, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • Brent Soules

      In it's simplicity, we have to give Noocrat some credit for his post. Just because they saw some pics that gave them a buzz doesn't mean it is REALLY of these two Apostles, nor does it mean they were ever there. I am not such a skeptic, but Nooboy has made a rigid point.

      June 22, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
    • Lindsay

      How did you know to draw Napoleon? Where did you hear about him? You knew he existed enough to draw your interpretation of a likeness.

      Your logic is a bit flawed here...

      June 22, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • dalis

      Nice, Lindsay.

      June 22, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
    • Will U

      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 1:57 am |
  20. Reality

    Textural evidence that there were twelve apostles:

    1a) 1 Cor 9:14
    (1b) 1 Cor 10:2
    (2) GThom. 14:2
    (3) 1Q: Luke 10:(1),4-11 = Matt 10:7,10b,12-14
    (4) Mark 6:7-13 = Matt 10:1,8-10a,11 = Luke 9:1-6
    (5) Dial. Sav. 20 [53b, or 139:9-10]
    (6) Did. 11-13 [see 11:4-6 & 13:1-2]
    (7) 1 Tim 5:18b

    June 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • Grindstone Universal

      Believe in Science facts and not science fiction. What was 4th century A.D.???? 6,000 years ago??? African royalty dates back long before that so dont stop at the Bible for your truth in search of real facts. Be bold enough to learn the truth so you can tell the truth to people who listen to you. Respect them enough to fill in the spaces where the tall tales replaced history with mystery please.

      June 22, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
    • Cicar

      Grindstone, you should try mixing in a little bit of math and history with the science you believe in. I too bases my beliefs in science rather than books written years after the fact–but I still know when the 4th century AD (CE) was–about 1700 years ago, not 6000!

      June 22, 2010 at 9:30 pm |
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