A tomb thought to be that of Jesus’ apostle Philip has been discovered in the ancient city and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hierapolis in Turkey.

"We have been looking for Saint Philip's tomb for years. We finally found it in the ruins of a church which we excavated a month ago," Italian archaeologist Francesco D'Andria, who found the burial, was quoted as saying by Turkish news agency Anadolu.

According to archaeologists at the Institute of Archaeological Heritage, Monuments and Sites at Italy's National Research Council in Lecce, the tomb was unearthed from the ruins of a recently-discovered fifth century church near Martyrs’ Hill, which archaeologists earlier believed was the location of Philip’s tomb.

According to Gospels of the New Testament, Philip was one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ who preached in Greece, Syria and Phrygia after the resurrection of the Christ.

He is also mentioned in connection with the miraculous feeding of the five thousand people and communication with Jesus at the Last Supper, D'Andria said.

Philip reportedly came to Hierapolis to preach Christianity before being executed by the Romans in 80 AD.

“The apostle Philip was hung on a tree upside down with irons in his heels and ankles in Hierapolis in Asia Minor,” D'Andria writes in the July issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

The excavator expects the tomb of Philip, who is said to have died as a martyr in Hierapolis, “is an important discovery for religious tourism, archaeology and Christendom.”

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St. Philip depicted in a painting from Peter Paul Rubens' famous Apostle Series. PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons