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Census of Publius Sulpicius Quirinus

Caesar Augustus ordered a census coinciding with Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary. The following is from the ancient text of The Deeds of Caesar Augustus, in Latin, Res Gestae, 8 :

". . . during my sixth term as consul (28 B.C.), I, along with my comrade Marcus Agrippa, commanded a census be taken of the people. I directed a lustrum, the first in forty-one years, in which 4,063,000 Roman citizens were counted. And once again, with imperial authority, I single handedly authorized a lustrum when the consuls of Rome were Gaius Censorinus and Gaius Asinius (8 B.C.), during which time 4,233,000 Roman citizens were counted."

As Luke 2:1-7, tells us it was during this census that Publius Sulpicius Quirinus when he served as proconsul, i.e., governor of Asia and as legate of the Province of Syria and Phoenicia that Jesus was born. Luke cites this provincial administrator simply because Jesus was a Jewish adult resident in Nazareth, Phoenicia, from at least the age of twelve, and it was also the native region of his

mother, Mary.

"The inscription, found near Tivoli in 1764, probably belonged to the tomb of Publius Sulpicius Quirinius, "proconsul" (governor) of Asia and "legate divi Augusti" (imperial official) of Syria and Phoenicia in the time of the Emperor Augustus (27 BC -14 AD). This figure is mentioned in the Gospel in relation to the census at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem "when Quirinius was governor of Syria" (Lk 2, 1-7): indeed, this census has been the focus of intense historical debate, as it would appear that it took place twelve years after the birth of Jesus. In fact, the inscription in question, with the term "leg (atus) iterum ..." ("... twice legate") attests to the possibility of that Quirinius held an earlier post in Syria: on that occasion he could have overseen a more approximate estimate of the population, thus limiting the presumed discrepancy between historical sources and the passage from the Gospel according to Luke."--Vatican Museum


Fragment of the sepulchral inscription of Quirinius. Musei Vaticani.

A sepulchral marble stone fragment broken in two pieces with its epigraphic inscription now in the Vatican Museum in Rome attests to this since it cites Publius Sulpicius Quirinus who served twice as legate placing him there at the time of the Annunciation. Luke learned of this detail in dating the birth of Christ from its very source, Mary.