Vatican scientists will present the results of tests on Monday that are believedwill confirm the remains of St. Paul.

An excavation that began in 2002 underneath Rome's second-largest basilica, St. Paul's Outside the Walls, has unearthed a sarcophagus containing the remains believed to be of the apostle. The tomb dates back to AD 390.

"I have no doubt that this is the tomb of St. Paul, as revered by Christians in the fourth century," said Giorgio Filippi, the lead archeologist.

Filippi said that the decision to make the sarcophagus visible came after many pilgrims who visited during the Catholic Church's 2000 Jubilee year expressed disappointment at finding the tomb could not be touched.

"Our objective was to bring the remains of the tomb back to light for devotional reasons, so that it could be venerated and be visible," he said.

The tomb was left visible beginning in the fourth century. It was then filled with earth, with a new altar built over it, during reconstruction following an 1823 fire in the basilica.

The remains lay underneath two marble slabs, with the inscription confirming his martyrdom: Paulo Apostolo Mart. Three holes were originally punched in the slabs to allow visitors to push pieces of material through and touch the saint's remains.

Born Saul in the city of Tarsus (in present-day Turkey), he converted to Christianity on the road to Damascus, a famous event still observed by some Catholics and Anglicans on Jan. 25 of each year.

Known as the "Apostle to the Gentiles" Paul travelled widely spreading Christianity.

Paul was believed to have been beheaded by the Emperor Nero between AD 64 and 67.

His letters form a major part of the New Testament.

The sarcophagus will remain on public display for the foreseeable future. Filippi said the interior of the tomb could one day be examined.

With files from the Associated Press