National Geographic Documentary Examines Relics of Third-Century Saints

April 19, 2011  [, ]

Two skeletons attributed to two married martyrs from the third century could be authentic, say researchers taking part in a new National Geographic Society documentary.

“All of the evidence we have gathered points toward the relics having belonged to Chrysanthus and Daria,” said investigation leader Ezio Fulcheri of the University of Genoa. “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 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.”

The remains of the saints, martyred around 283 A.D. for spreading Christianity, are said to have been interred in the crypt of the cathedral in the northern Italian city of Reggio Emilia since the 10th century.

A 2008 renovation at the cathedral caused the dismantling of the altar which had been undisturbed since 1651. The remains, nearly 150 bones, underwent tests dating them to between 80 and 340 A.D.

Fulcheri led a team of scientists who considered the authenticity of the relics. Their investigations are the subject of the National Geographic Channel documentary “EXPLORER: Mystery of the Murdered Saints,” which airs on April 19 at 10 p.m. Eastern time.

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