Martyr Legend Receives Scientific Support

The legend of the 3rd-century Christian martyrs Chrysanthus and Daria has received some scientific corroboration.

The UK’s Daily Mail is running a story about carbon dating and other scientific tests being performed on a pair of skeletons that were recently disinterred from the cathedral altar in the north Italian city of Reggio Emilia, where they’ve been held since the tenth century.

Church tradition has always considered the skeletons to be of Chrysanthus and Daria, a celibate married couple who were martyred in 283 (by being buried alive) for spreading Christianity in the area around Rome, but the church authorities were obviously taking a risk in allowing the bones to be subjected to scientific tests. Had the tests not produced results consistent with the stories about the martyrs, there would have been a scandal.

However, the tests all appear to check out. The skeletons are from the right period, one male and one apparently virgin female, and they even show evidence of lead poisoning, consistent with upper-class Romans of the third century. Obviously there is no way to prove beyond doubt the identity of the skeletons, but everything appears to line up.

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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1 Response to Martyr Legend Receives Scientific Support

  1. Alethia Clark says:

    Thank you so much for posting things like this. Its so encouraging to learn that Church tradition can keep the truth straight even when it comes to small things that wouldn’t break the faith. I have watched several documentaries and read many articles about scientific research done on the Shroud of Turin and it was absolutely fascinating.

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