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ARCHAEOLOGY

Tomb of St. Philip the Apostle Discovered in Turkey

A portrait of St. Philip from around 1611, by the Italian painter Peter Paul Rubens, at the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.

A tomb believed to be that of St. Philip the Apostle was unearthed during excavations in the ancient Turkish city of Hierapolis.

Italian professor Francesco D'Andria said archeologists found the tomb of the biblical figure -- one of the 12 original disciples of Jesus -- while working on the ruins of a newly-unearthed church, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported Wednesday.

"We have been looking for Saint Philip's tomb for years," d'Andria told the agency. "We finally found it in the ruins of a church which we excavated a month ago."

The structure of the tomb and the writings on the wall proved it belonged to St. Philip, he added.

The professor said the archaeologists worked for years to find the tomb and he expected it to become an important Christian pilgrimage destination.

St. Philip, recognized as one of Christianity's martyrs, is thought to have died in Hierapolis, in the southwest province of Denizli, in around 80AD. It is believed he was crucified upside down or beheaded.

Hierapolis, whose name means "sacred city," is an ancient city famous for its hot springs and a spa since the 2nd century.

The Turkish news agency notes a wealth of current archaeology projects underway in the country, which has seen a potpourri of cultures over the centuries: Assyrians, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantinians, Ottomans and more.