The tomb of St. Philip the Apostle, one of the original 12 disciples of Christianity's central figure Jesus Christ, has been discovered during the ongoing excavations in Turkey's south-western province of Denizli.
Italian professor Francesco D'Andria, the head of the excavation team at the Hierapolis ancient city in Denizli, told reporters on Tuesday that experts had reached the tomb of St. Philip whose name is mentioned in the Bible as one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus.
Professor D'Andria said archeologists had been working for years to find the tomb of the Biblical figure, and finally, they had managed to reach the monument while working on the ruins of a newly-unearthed church in Hierapolis.
D'Andria said the structure of the tomb and the writings on it proved that it belonged to St. Philip the Apostle, who is recognized as a martyr in the history of Christianity.
Describing the discovery as a major development both for archeology and the Christian world, D'Andria said the tomb, which had not been opened yet, was expected to become an important Christian pilgrimage destination.
Hierapolis, whose name means "sacred city", is an ancient city located next to the renowned Pamukkale, white Travertine terraces, in Denizli province. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The city, famous for its historical hot springs used as a spa since the 2nd century, is a mixture of Pagan, Roman, Jewish and early Christian influences.
Ancient tradition associates Hierapolis with St. Philip the Apostle, who is believed to have died in the city around 80 AD. The follower, who is known as the apostle who preached in Greece, Syria, and Phrygia, is said to have been martyred in Hierapolis. The legend is that St. Philip was crucified upside-down or martyred by beheading.
After the apostle's death, an octagonal tomb named "The Martryium" was erected for him where he is believed to have been martyred.