Scientific research conducted in a sarcophagus in the Basilica of Saint Justina in Padua, Italy, appears to confirm the traditionally held belief that the relics kept in this Church are those of Saint Luke the Evangelist. The data of confirmation has been published by the prestigious Jesuit magazine, "Civilta Cattolica," in anticipation of the results that will be officially communicated during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
The acknowledgement of Saint Luke's relics was made in September 1998, 436 years after they were placed in Saint Justina's Basilica. The research was carried out by a commission headed by the anatomy pathologist Vito Terribile Wiel Marin, professor of Anatomy and Histology at the University of Padua. After removing a 3000# marble slab that covered the sarcophagus, they found a lead box weighing 1500#. This box, which measures 75 inches by 16 inches and 20 inches in depth, was resting on a wooden board and had two red wax seals.
Father Daniele Libanori wrote that inside the box, a skeleton was found that was missing the cranium, the right ulna (elbow) and the right astragalus (ankle bone). According to the study, the bones are those of a man who died between 70 and 85 years old, and was 5’4” tall. This confirms what is known about the evangelist in Christian tradition. He suffered acute, diffused osteoporosis, grave arthrosis of the spinal cord, especially in the lumbar region, and pulmonary emphysema, evidenced in the curvature of the ribs. The bones were arranged with great care, reflecting the esteem in which the person was held, and the cult's antiquity. Vessels in the sarcophagus contained coins, four parchments, and lead weights that give evidence of the authenticity of the relic.