Mike Aquilina

Archeological Updates

Thursday November 29th 2007, 3:06 am

In Israel, archeologists found the remains of a Byzantine synagogue, with lovely mosaics intact. News reports say that this find could change our reading of the status of Jews in that corner of the Christian empire, during that century.

Archaeologists differ among themselves as to which period the ancient Galilean synagogues belong. The generally accepted view is that they can be attributed to the later Roman period (second to fourth centuries C.E.), a time of cultural and political flowering of the Jews of the Galilee. Recently, some researchers have come to believe that these synagogues were built mainly during the Byzantine period (fifth and sixth centuries C.E.), a time in which Christianity rose to power and, it was thought, the Jews suffered from persecution. Dr. Leibner noted that this difference of scholarly opinion has great significance in perhaps redrawing the historical picture of Jews in those ancient times.

Meanwhile in Rome the diggers are still pondering the cave they found at the beginning of the year, that may or may not be the Lupercale, the cave where Rome’s mythological founders, Romulus and Remus, were nursed by the she-wolf who adopted them. For the early Christians, Rome’s old founders evoked the new city’s new founders. Pope Benedict drew on his predecessor, Leo the Great, as he announced the upcoming Year of St. Paul:

Like Romulus and Remus, the two mythical brothers who are said to have given birth to the City, so Peter and Paul were held to be the founders of the Church of Rome.

Speaking to the City on this topic, St Leo the Great said: “These are your holy Fathers and true shepherds, who gave you claims to be numbered among the heavenly kingdoms, and built you under much better and happier auspices than they, by whose zeal the first foundations of your walls were laid” (Sermon 82, 7).

However humanly different they may have been from each other and despite the tensions that existed in their relationship, Peter and Paul appear as the founders of a new City, the expression of a new and authentic way of being brothers which was made possible by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

For this reason, it can be said that the Church of Rome is celebrating her birthday today, since it was these two Apostles who laid her foundations.

As far as we know, Peter and Paul did their suckling in the normal way.