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Thursday, August 31, 2006

St. Matthew's Burial Site?

I saw the mention of the possible finding of the burial place of Matthew at the NT Gateway Weblog. Here's the story cited ... Burial Place Of Apostle Matthew 'Found' In Kyrgyzstan ...

Vladimir Ploskikh told a news briefing in Bishkek today that his team this summer uncovered on the northeastern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul what he believes are the remains of the Christian monastery that a 14th-century map indicates is the site where the Apostle Matthew was buried.

According to legends, Apostle Matthew died on his way to India and established several Christian communities during the course of his journey.

The document, which is kept in Venice and is known as the Catalan map, mentions a place named "Issicol," where it says there is "a cloister of the Armenian Brothers where the body of the Apostle and Evangelist Saint Matthew is."

Ploskikh, however, cautioned that further investigation is needed.

Four years ago, a Russian-born U.S. photographer, Sergei Melnikoff, said he had found Apostle Matthew's grave near Issyk-Kul. Kyrgyz scientists dismissed his claims.

The news story about the Russian find is here at Pravda - Where is Apostle Mathew buried?

These stories shouyld be approached with a healthy skepticism, of course :-) Wikipedia has this to say ...

Some traditions say that Matthew was martyred in Ethiopia, others say that he was martyred in Hierapolis of Parthia. According to Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, Matthew the Evangelist was martyred in Hierapolis, and the Matthew who replaced Judas Iscariot among the twelve apostles is the one who died in Ethiopia. His relics were carried to Campania, in the Diocese of Capaccio. Retrieved by Lombards, they were moved to Salerno, where they are currently kept in the Cathedral's crypt.

And there's this from The Catholic Encyclopedia ...

St. Irenæus tells us that Matthew preached the Gospel among the Hebrews, St. Clement of Alexandria claiming that he did this for fifteen years, and Eusebius maintains that, before going into other countries, he gave them his Gospel in the mother tongue. Ancient writers are not as one as to the countries evangelized by Matthew, but almost all mention Ethiopia to the south of the Caspian Sea (not Ethiopia in Africa), and some Persia and the kingdom of the Parthians, Macedonia, and Syria. According to Heracleon, who is quoted by Clement of Alexandria, Matthew did not die a martyr, but this opinion conflicts with all other ancient testimony. Let us add, however, that the account of his martyrdom in the apocryphal Greek writings entitled "Martyrium S. Matthæi in Ponto" and published by Bonnet, "Acta apostolorum apocrypha" (Leipzig, 1898), is absolutely devoid of historic value. Lipsius holds that this "Martyrium S. Matthæi", which contains traces of Gnosticism, must have been published in the third century. There is a disagreement as to the place of St. Matthew's martyrdom and the kind of torture inflicted on him, therefore it is not known whether he was burned, stoned, or beheaded. The Roman Martyrology simply says: "S. Matthæi, qui in Æthiopia prædicans martyrium passus est".

- Read more about Matthew's crypt in the Cathedral of Salerno

- Read more about the Catalan Atlas

- St. Matthew's Cathedral, Salerno


Blogger Liam said...

Hey Crystal,

Interesting post. I like the legends of the burials of saints, and I think that, like many aspects of early hagiography, even legendary burial places can resonate with the centuries of belief that people have placed in them. My more historical self cannot really believe, for example, that St James the Greater is buried in Santiago de Compostela, but I don't think that makes the pilgrimage there any less Holy or meaningful.

Maybe it's time for a pilgrimage to Kyrgyzstan...

3:34 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Liam,

Yeah, maybe in part it's the attitude of the pilgrims that make a shrine holy. An interesting one I came across while reading about Sri Lanka was the Temple of the Sacred Tooth - Buddha's tooth lives there :-)

4:37 PM  

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