Big News for Archeology and for Christendom: Tomb of Apostle Philip Uncovered in Turkey

He’s kind of like the “Come and See” Saint.

— Philip brought to Jesus his friend Nathaniel who, along with Philip, dropped what he was doing and became a follower of Christ.

— He brought to Jesus the boy with a basket of food, and so witnessed the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

— And Philip wanted to see for himself—so he asked Jesus, at the Last Supper, to show him the Father.

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The archeological world has been abuzz this week with the news that the tomb of the apostle Philip has been discovered inTurkey’s southwestern province of Denizki.

For years, archeologists have been searching for the burial site of the man who is always listed in Scripture as the fifth Apostle.  According to tradition, Philip—who preached in Greece, Syria and Phrygia—had died in the ancient town of Hierapolis, famed since the second century for its hot springs, in about 80 A.D.  It was believed that Philip had died either by crucifixion or by beheading.

An excavation team was working on the ruins of a newly-unearthed church in that city, when they uncovered the tomb.  Although the tomb’s not yet been opened, both its structure (it’s an octagonal tomb named “The Martryium”) and the writings on it prove that it is Philip’s final resting place.

Italian professor Francesco D’Andria, head of the excavation team, called the discovery a major development, both for archeology and for the Christian world.

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Just who was Philip, anyway?

He was born in Bethsaida, along with Peter and Andrew.  That’s where Jesus found him and said “Follow me.”  John’s gospel tells us that Philip dropped everything to follow Jesus; but he also ran to his friend Nathanael, exclaiming, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 

Nathanael, though, was more skeptical.  “How can anything good come from Nazareth?” he wanted to know.

But Philip persisted:  “Come and see.”

Philip shows up later in the Gospel of John, when Jesus spots a large crowd coming toward him (John 6:5-7) and knows that they have nothing to eat.  Philip exclaims, “It would take two hundred denarii (more than half a year’s wages) to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”  Along with Andrew, his old friend from Bethsaida, Philip brings to Jesus a young boy who has a basket of loaves and fishes.  You remember the rest of the story:  Jesus works a miracle, the throngs of people are fed, and there are twelve baskets of leftovers.

Philip is seen in the Gospel one more time, at the Last Supper, again armed with a question for Jesus.  In John 14:8-13, once again Jesus is talking with his apostles, teaching them about His Father in heaven.  Philip again yearns to know more, to understand more fully.  “Lord, show us the Father,” says Philip, “and that will be enough for us.”   Jesus explains that He and the Father are one, and that anyone who has seen Him has seen the Father.

A Prayer to St. Philip

O Glorious Saint Philip, at the Last Supper you said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and it will be enough for us.”  Help us to make this our prayer also and to seek God in all things.  Obtain for us the grace to know the Father and Jesus Christ whom he has sent – for in this does eternal life consist.

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