Bulgaria Confirms John the Baptist Relics Unearthed in Sozopol
Parts of Saint John the Baptist's relics have been discovered during archaeological excavations in Bulgaria's southern Black Sea town of Sozopol, archaeologists announced on Sunday, confirming earlier reports.
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 urn, which was opened on Sunday, contains small bones from the arm and leg of the saint,the archaeologists claim.
The reliquary has the shape of a sarcophagus and was discovered by the team of Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov.
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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