According to an ancient tradition, these are the relics of apostles Philip and James. People can now see them in Rome for only a short time, until the feast of Pentecost on May 15, at the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles.
The remains have been preserved there since they were transferred to Rome in the sixth century, in the time of Pope Pelayo, who thought of bringing them from the Holy Land.
"Pope Pelayo was a deacon in the court of Justinian. Thanks to the great friendship he had with this emperor, he wanted to bring the relics to Rome to dedicate them to a basilica.”
The remains have not left his crypt beneath the main altar since 1879, even though the place was very humid.
He brought shoulder blade bones, a tibia and teeth, pieces of fabric from his clothes and two large glass jars that house the ashes of Jesus' disciples.
The Franciscans have decided to use the Jubilee of Mercy as the time to expose the remains. They invited parishes in Italy and abroad to make a pilgrimage to the Basilica and offer prayers for the consecration to the two apostles.
Basilica of the Twelve Apostles
"Different groups of pilgrims who want to come to this event are writing me, so we are happy to welcome them. We zealously protect this heritage, but as Franciscans we do not possess any material goods, so we're happy to share."
The relics again saw the light of day on April 5th, when they started being investigated. After being exposed during these days, they will be studied for months. Those responsible for the basilica hope that current technology allows for new data revelations, to further know these two apostles, two of the people closest to Jesus.