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Have John the Baptist's Bones Been Found in Bulgaria?

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  • jonbrian chorus.net
    *World* Have John the Baptist s Bones Been Found in Bulgaria? *
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 2010

      Have John the Baptist's Bones Been Found in Bulgaria?


      *Theunis Bates* Contributor
      AOL News
      (Aug. 4) -- Archaeologists in Bulgaria claimed to have located a
      sarcophagus containing the bones of John the Baptist, drawing enthusiasm
      from politicians but doubts from some experts.

      An ancient alabaster reliquary, a box for relics, was found embedded in an
      altar at the ruins of a fifth-century monastery on the tiny Black Sea island
      of Sveti Ivan<http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&q=st%20ivan%20island&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wl>.
      On Sunday, the excavation's leader, Kazimir Popkonstantinov, carefully pried
      open the miniature casket at a ceremony attended by local government figures
      and an Eastern Orthodox bishop in the nearby coastal town of Sozopol.

      Inside, researchers found parts of a cranium, tooth and arm bone, according
      to Bulgarian news agency Novinite. Further tests are now being carried out
      on the remains, and the country's culture minister, Vezhdi Rashidov,
      declared that people should wait for results before making "emotional
      statements" about the identity of the bones' original owner.

      But Popkonstantinov is convinced that the fragments belong to Jesus'
      baptizer, largely because a Greek inscription on the 8-inch-long,
      4-inch-high and 4-inch-wide reliquary mentions June 24, the date Orthodox
      and Catholic Christians celebrate John the Baptist's birth.

      According to Bozhidar Dimitrov, former director of the country's National
      History Museum and now diaspora minister, that inscription goes on to detail
      how the bones ended up on the Black Sea isle.

      "[It says that] some time in the fifth century a man named Toma transferred
      the holy relics exactly on the birthday of St. John the Forerunner," he told
      Novinite <http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=118815>. "Professor
      Kazimir Popkonstantinov ... is a rare and lucky man. It is very seldom that
      one would find an inscription, and in archaeology the inscription is
      considered the most authentic proof."

      Dimitrov added that he believed church leaders in Constantinople -- now
      Istanbul, but then the capital of the vast Byzantine Empire -- donated the
      relics, as many of the city's patriarchs started their religious careers at
      the island monastery.

      Other clues to the body parts' owner lie in the island's name, Sveti Ivan,
      which means Saint John in Bulgarian and other Slavic languages. The rocky
      outcrop acquired that name in the 11th century when a new monastery was
      built and dedicated to John the Baptist. But Popkonstantinov told news
      agency Focus <http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=f2370> that it was
      possible the earlier, fifth-century basilica -- abandoned between the
      seventh and ninth centuries -- "could also have been dedicated to Saint

      Certainly, the monks who originally inhabited the isle must have believed
      that the remains belonged to an important Christian figure or they would
      have never housed them in the altar, a place of real honor. And John the
      Baptist is considered an especially important saint by the Eastern Orthodox
      Church, which regards him as the last of the Old Testament prophets before
      the coming of Jesus.

      Some experts, however, have cast doubt on the find, noting that since John
      was first buried in northern Israel around 36 A.D., dozens of sites around
      the world have claimed possession of significant chunks of his corpse. For
      example, Damascus' Umayyad
      once a Christian church, says it has the holy man's head, but Munich's Residenz
      Museum <http://www.residenz-muenchen.de/englisch/residenc/index.htm> also
      argues it owns the divine brain box -- famously chopped off by King Herod at
      Salome's request -- which it displays on a pearl-lined pillow.

      Bulgaria now plans a similarly grand setting for its own bones. On Thursday,
      they'll be installed at Sozopol's Church of Saint George -- also home to a
      (supposed) piece of the cross Jesus was crucified on, and relics of St.
      Andrew -- after being paraded through the town's streets. Dimitrov, a
      Sozopol resident, told Focus he hoped this new relic would make the
      town a "second
      Jerusalem <http://www.focus-fen.net/?id=n227073>" and lead to a surge in
      "pilgrim tourism."

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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