Recent Archeological Investigations
In the late 19th century, a Passionist religious, Father Germano Ruoppolo (1850-1909) conducted extensive excavations under the church. He uncovered the remains of the early 2nd and 3rd century apartments and homes that were the foundations of the later basilica, as well as the streets of the ancient site and the confession where the martyrs were honored.
Father Germano was also the spiritual director of St. Gemma, an Italian mystic who, from her childhood, was devoted to the mystery of the Passion of Jesus. Today, she is buried in a shrine named in her honor in Lucca. Not far from her rests the body of her saintly guide, Father Germano, Passionist; his own cause for canonization is in process.
Father Germano's successor in the excavations at Saints John and Paul was Passionist Brother Lambert Budde, who worked there from 1909-1911.
Further explorations were conducted from 1956-1958 through the generosity of Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York and Joseph P. Kennedy, father of President John Kennedy. Cardinal Terence Cooke and Cardinal John O'Connor, successors to Cardinal Francis Spellman as archbishops of New York, also had title to this important Roman church.
The present cardinal protector of Saint John and Paul is the archbishop of New York. Edward Cardinal Egan (right) took possession of the church February 24, 2001. Cardinal Egan had been consecrated a bishop on May 22, 1985, in the Basilica of Saints John and Paul in Rome by His Eminence, Bernadin Cardinal Gantin, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Bishops, with His Eminence, John Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York, and His Excellency, the Most Reverend John R. Keating, Bishop of Arlington, as co-consecrators.
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