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St. Aurelius, a "catacomb saint"

St. Aurelius was an early Christian martyr who was buried in Rome’s catacombs and transported to Portugal in the 18th century.

The back of St. Aurelius’ effigy

When the catacombs were explored in the 18th century, martyrs' remains were sent to European churches to make up for relics and statues destroyed by the Protestant Reformation. Their arrival was met with enthusiasm by believers, who decorated the remains with gold and other precious materials.

Holy remains were hidden within the "sculpture"

At first, restorers thought that the "body" of St. Aurelius was an effigy. X-ray study confirmed that it contained the skeletal remains of a catacomb saint.

X-ray of the "sculpture"


The face of Aurelius' effigy


A clue to the origin of the relic

The Italian inscription inside Aurelius' sandal convinced researchers that some decorations were crafted in Italy before the body to was sent to Portugal.

The decorated skull


The hand