The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

John the Baptist in Bulgaria?

Maybe, according to local news reports:

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.

More details here.

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Nobel Piece Prize

posted August 1, 2010 at 1:10 am

With the quran wanted to be burned what do we do about it with the bulgarian John the Baptist!

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posted August 1, 2010 at 1:49 am

John the Baptist lived until Jesus was 30. Even if Jesus had been born in 0 BC, he would have died in 30 AD – not 4 AD.

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posted August 1, 2010 at 4:39 am

The Byzantines were are are great custodians of holy relics. Nick the story is not talking about the year but the century in which the relics were placed below the altar. It is early Christian custom to keep relics in altars that look like sarcophagi. The head of John the Baptist is in the Mosque one a Christian basilica in Damascus.
Earlier this year I went to the Topkapi Palace in Constantinople. The treasury there is the left arm of St John the Baptist and the top of his skull are there. Along with Mohamed’s whiskers. Yes while alive he was such a maniac he gave hairs from his beard to his followers.

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posted August 1, 2010 at 5:45 am

Don’t make light of those relics – they represented enormous income possibilities for the churches that had them, which is why they were so often stolen, only to miraculously appear in another church. As for relics, I think the Top 10 would have to include Jesus’ umbilical cord in the Cluny Museum in Paris.

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posted August 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm

When they say 4th beginning of the 5th AD, they are talking centuries not years. Yes John would have died about 30 AD, the Reliquary would date to about between 400 AD – 550 AD. somewhere in that time frame. It’s assumed that believers would have taken any remains of John at his death, and buried them, and passed on the location until someone removed them to put them in the reliquary. Or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to have worked. Unfortunately, during the Crusades and during the middle ages, there were a lot of people who removed relics for their own churches, sometimes leaving fakes.

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posted August 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Are you incredulous about the veracity of the relic of Jesus’ umbilical cord? I don’t know anything about that particular relic, but I do know of very ordinary mothers who have saved their very ordinary children’s umbilical cords and teeth and hair. It would not surprise me at all that Our Lady would save this precious bit of flesh of God, and that later followers of Christ may have preserved and venerated it.
Even weirder is the half-drunk last glass of wine of Princess Diana which was (still is?) enshrined at Harrods in London.

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posted August 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Actually, Salome was the daughter of Herodias, acting as wife of Herod – Since Herodias was (had been?) married to Herod’s brother Philip, John the Baptist had told Herod it was NOT LAWFUL for Herod to live with her. Thus Herodias’s dislike for John.
Salome, then, w/b a step-daughter to Herod, not a daughter.
I’ve been impressed by the Cathedral in Cologne, Germany claiming relics of the Magi who brought gifts to Jesus in the Matthew account of Jesus’s birth. After Jesus’s resurrection, who would have the time & ability to research which country/countries the Magi came from, (some 30 years earlier) where they were buried, etc.

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posted August 4, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Dated to the 4th or 5th century? Interesting. That means that it would have been impossible for John the Baptist to have baptize Jesus.
IF Jesus existed at all~

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posted August 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm

The urn was dated from the 4th or 5th century, not the bones (relics). There is more historical evidence of Jesus’s existence than any other historical figure.
Of note, John the Baptist did not prophesy about Jesus as stated in above article, although he did point out Jesus as the Messiah to his followers.

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