Archaeologists Uncover John the Baptist Relics in Bulgaria's Sozopol - Report

Society » ARCHAEOLOGY | July 29, 2010, Thursday // 10:04| Views: | Comments: 6
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Bulgaria: Archaeologists Uncover John the Baptist Relics in Bulgaria's Sozopol - Report St. John the Baptist. Detail from an icon at Gra?anica monastery in Kosovo. Image by Pravoslavieto.com

Parts of St. John the Baptist's relics might have been discovered during archaeological excavations in Bulgaria's southern Black Sea town of Sozopol, report Bulgarian media.

Archaeologists investigating the Sv. Ivan (St. John) island off Sozopol have found an exquisite reliquary – a relic urn – built in the altar of an ancient church bearing the name of St. John the Baptist

The reliquary has the shape of a sarcophagus and is dated end of 4th - beginning of 5th c. AD. It was discovered by the team of Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov.

The church's name, as well as the fact that it had a special emperor's statute issued, has hinted to archeologists that it might actually contain St. John's relics. The urn is expected to be opened Sunday.

St. John the Baptist - called also the Forerunner - is an imposing figure in the Christian New Testament. He was the last to prophecize the coming of Jesus Christ - and the one to baptize the young Jesus in the river Jordan. The great prophet died a martyr's death beheaded by king Herod at the request of his daughter Salome.

According to the Bible, St. John the Forerunner prophesized about Christ thus: "I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and fire" (Matthew 3:11).

St. John the Baptist is especially venerated by the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. Over the centuries, there have been controversies about where his relics are located.

The town of Sozopol is one of the most ancient on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, dating from the Bronze age. It was colonized by Greeks, headed by philosopher Anaximander, around 610 BC. Sozopol became an early Christian centre with its own bishop. For most of the Middle Ages, it was part of the Byzantine empire.

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Tags: Black Sea, Sozopol, Christianity, archeological find, archaeologist, archaeology, Jesus Christ, bible, new testament, Christian Orthodox, St. John the Baptist, Eastern Orthodox, Christian Orthodox, church, Byzantine Empire
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» To the forumComments (6)
#6
Bryan - 3 Aug 2010 // 11:23:07

"I can testify from experience that in Rome, at least the number of times I've been there, the number of crucifixes one can buy containing a piece of wood from "the true cross" leads one to expect that the vertical shaft of the cross reached somewhere near the moon."

Haha. *like*

#5
Bill - 2 Aug 2010 // 12:21:56

DrFaust:

"Therefore it is not surprising that the number of relics is inflated. The 'authentic' head of John the Baptist for example can be seen in at least five places in the world, and the same goes for example for the splinters of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The amount of wood for these splinters would be sufficient to crucify a whole Roman legion."

I can testify from experience that in Rome, at least the number of times I've been there, the number of crucifixes one can buy containing a piece of wood from "the true cross" leads one to expect that the vertical shaft of the cross reached somewhere near the moon.

CAVEAT EMPTOR!

#4
DrFaust - 2 Aug 2010 // 08:37:43

"It is very likely that this relic is authentic, because it was (and still is today) a practice of the Catholic church to place a authentic relic of the patron Saint of that Church inside the main altar."

I am sorry to put a little bit of water into your wine, but this practice is not a practice of the Catholic church only, and it is highly unlikely that the relic is authentic.

First of all, Sozopol (and of course Constantinopel from where the 'relics' came as it seems) were (almost) never catholic. The practice you describe above was never limited to the catholic church alone, but is very common also in the Orthodoxy.

Second, the trade with relics was a good business for the churches over the centuries. They 'donated' a relic here and there and received rich 'donations' (in gold or currency) from their members in return. Historians have evidence that at least 90% of the 'authentic' relics presented in churches are fabrications.

Therefore it is not surprising that the number of relics is inflated. The 'authentic' head of John the Baptist for example can be seen in at least five places in the world, and the same goes for example for the splinters of the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The amount of wood for these splinters would be sufficient to crucify a whole Roman legion.

I am not saying that relic in Sozopol is not authentic, but it is most probably not unless scientists will find strong proof regarding the provenance of the relic before it came to Constantinopel.

#3
JosephJohnson - 30 Jul 2010 // 20:40:54

It is very likely that this relic is authentic, because it was (and still is today) a practice of the Catholic church to place a authentic relic of the patron Saint of that Church inside the main altar.
-Joseph Johnson
http://www.mysticsofthechurch.com

#2
Dino - 29 Jul 2010 // 11:16:39

That's really cool! Rich cultural history in BG.

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