Scientific research carried out in a sarcophagus in the Basilica of St. Justina in Padua, Italy, appear to confirm the traditionally held belief that the relics kept in this church are those of St. Luke the Evangelist The data of confirmation has been published by the prestigious Jesuit magazine, “Civilta Cattolica, in anticipation of the results that will be officially communicated during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
The acknowledgment of St. Luke’s alleged relics was made in September, 1998 — 436 years after they were placed in St. Jusina’s Basilica. The research was carried out by a commission headed by the anatomy pathologist Vito Terribile Wiel Marin, professor of anatomy and Histology at the University Of Padua. Having removed the 1400-kilo marble slab that covered the sarcophagus, a lead box weighing 600-800 kilos was found. This box, which measured 190 centimetres in length, by 40 centimetres in width and 50 centimetres in depth, was resting on a wooden board and had two red wax seals.
Fr. Daniel Libanori wrote that inside the box, a skeleton was found that was massing the cranium, the right ulna (elbow) and the right astragalus (ankle bone). According to the study, the bones are those of a man who died in old age, presumably between 70 and 85 years old, and measuring 1.63 metres in stature.
This data alone already confirms what is known about the evangelist in Christian tradition. His advanced age is confirmed by the study that revealed he was suffering from acute, diffused osteoporosis, grave arthrosis of the spinal cord, especially in the lumbar region, and pulmonary emphysema, evidenced in the curvature of the ribs. The bones were arranged with great care, reflecting the esteem in which the person was held and the cult’s antiquity. Vessels were also found in the sarcophagus containing coins, four parchments and lead weights that give evidence of the authenticity of the relic.