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August 3rd, 2010
01:49 PM ET

Remains of John the Baptist found in Bulgaria?

John the Baptist, right, as depicted in this 14th century painting at the National Gallery, London

Archaeologists in Bulgaria claim they have found remains of John the Baptist while excavating the site of a 5th century monastery on the Black Sea island of Sveti Ivan.

A reliquary – a container for holy relics – discovered last week under the monastery’s basilica was opened on Sunday and found to contain bone fragments of a skull, a hand and a tooth, Bulgaria’s official news agency BTA reported.

Excavation leader Kazimir Popkonstantinov lifted the reliquary’s lid in a ceremony in the coastal town of Sozopol attended by dignitaries including the Bishop of Sliven, Yoanikii, and Bozhidar Dimitrov, a government minister and director of Bulgaria’s National History Museum, BTA said.

Further tests on the fragments are due to be carried out. But Popkonstantinov is convinced the relics belong to John the Baptist because of a Greek inscription on the reliquary referring to June 24, the date when Christians celebrate John the Baptist’s birth, according to the website of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church.

A later monastery on the island, built in the 11th century, was dedicated to John the Baptist – "Sveti Ivan" means "St. John" in Bulgarian and other Slavic languages. Popkonstantinov told Bulgarian news agency Focus that it was possible the earlier basilica was also dedicated to the saint.

Fabrizio Bisconti, superintendent of the Vatican Pontifical Commission of Sacred Archaeology, told CNN that the commission "will wait until a more thorough study has been conducted, including anthropological analysis, before it will express an opinion on the finding."

Bisconti also said there are thousands of alleged relics of John the Baptist scattered around the world. He said the pontifical commission has not been contacted by the Bulgarian archaeologists, and that it normally does not get involved in the sacred archaeology studies carried outside of Italy.

Christians believe John the Baptist heralded the arrival of Christ and baptized Jesus in the River Jordan. According to the Gospels, John was put to death by beheading on the orders of the local ruler, Herod Antipas. He is considered a particularly significant figure in the Orthodox Church.

The newly discovered reliquary is made of alabaster and dates from approximately the middle of the 5th century, Popkonstantinov told reporters. The southern Black Sea coast was then part of the Byzantine Empire, ruled from Byzantium, now Istanbul in Turkey.

Popkonstantinov told Focus the reliquary was the first to be discovered in the region.

Dimitrov told Focus the relics may once have been donated to the monastery by the Byzantine church. The Topkapi Palace museum in Istanbul is one of several sites claiming to house relics purported to be those of John the Baptist.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity

soundoff (1,093 Responses)
  1. jerry

    there is only one GOD and his name is not mahomid or buddah or the dali lama or however you spell it its not harry krishna HIS NAME IS JESUS there is not tens of thousands of so called gods out there they are all false gods made from false religions there is only one true religion and it is not judiism its not sekism its not jehova winess its not mormonism and by the the way the koran isnt the the bible eithert boy this is gonna go over well with people oh well if your gonna stand for something it might as well be the truth and one more thing homosexuality IS NOT AN ALTERNATIVE LIFESTYLE ITS AN OBONANATION IN THE SIGHT OF GOD AND IF YOU DONT BELIEVE ME READ THE 1ST CAPTER OF THE BOOK OF ROMANS wow thats gonna make a lot of people mad oh well

    August 6, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  2. jerry

    you know the bottom line is the fact that GOD is VERY MUCH A REALITY and GOD LOVES YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE HE SENT HIS SON TO DIE ON THE CROSS AND HE DESPERATLY WANTS TO HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU.HE KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU EVERY HAIR ON OUR HEADS ARE COUNTED,AND HE IS COMING AGAIN AND THAT IS VERY MUCH THE MOST AMAZING TRUTH WETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT

    August 5, 2010 at 10:09 pm |
    • David Johnson

      It's good that you use the "total caps" way of writing your comment. As an atheist, I am in awe of this style. When you and other fanatics use this, I know the comment is from god. Thank you.

      August 6, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  3. Beverly

    I'm always amazed at how people, who gain just a little knowledge about something, will suddenly think that they are an authoritarian on the subject to the point of belligerence.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
  4. Deb

    Christianity is a belief of FAITH PEOPLE. Faith is something freely given, in something you can not see, feel, or touch. Only people can do that, can truly be christians. If you are excepting anything else you are in for a great let down. Faith is just that. Faith, believing without question, and all the EXPERTS and their science, are just a of atheist trying to sooth their own broken consciouses, because they have spent their entire lives fighting against god and their BIG EDUCATIONS, and they think they are BIGGER, BETTER, AND MORE IMPORTANT THAN the lord, and they want to be right, because if they are wrong, OH BOY ARE THEY IN TROUBLE.

    August 5, 2010 at 9:04 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Deb

      You said, "Christianity is a belief of FAITH PEOPLE. Faith is something freely given, in something you can not see, feel, or touch. Only people can do that, can truly be christians. If you are excepting anything else you are in for a great let down. Faith is just that. Faith, believing without question, and all the EXPERTS and their science, are just a of atheist trying to sooth their own broken consciouses, because they have spent their entire lives fighting against god and their BIG EDUCATIONS, and they think they are BIGGER, BETTER, AND MORE IMPORTANT THAN the lord, and they want to be right, because if they are wrong, OH BOY ARE THEY IN TROUBLE."

      How do you know the Muslims aren't worshipping the one true god? Their religion is faith based. They believe all non-Muslims are infidels. If they are right, you will be at a very large barbecue when you die. OH BOY WILL YOU BE IN TROUBLE.

      Even if you pick the wrong Christian denomination, you are in danger of hell fire. There are over a thousand different Christian denominations. Each can show you scripture to support their beliefs. They all have faith. OH BOY WILL YOU BE IN TROUBLE.

      August 6, 2010 at 7:27 pm |
  5. Deb

    Joe your a negative moron. Who are you to direct Jesus to when he should come back. Just remember when he does it is over BIG TIME BUDDY. Anyone left living and has not sought forgiveness is headed for a REALLY HOT SPOT, with NO RETURN TICKET. As for the rest of this negative junk, ALL OF YOU ARE REAL BIG , DOWNER, AND WOULD DEPRESS A FAIRY WITH A SWEET TOOTH. Whine, Whine, Whine, Gripe , Gripe, Gripe. Put religion down and blame it for all your problems. But, when did any of you even ask for help or forgiveness. My guess is, oh I don't know. NEVER MOST LIKELY.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  6. Deb

    I thought the Romans beheaded John the Baptist. How did he get to Bulgaria. I know there was no refrigoration back then. That must of been one stinky trip.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  7. yunah

    i like SM's comment... who among the people here who were not christians yet were celebrating christmas?? ",)

    August 5, 2010 at 6:08 pm |
  8. Smooth Edward

    The entire assumption that you could accurately know his date of birth is absurd. How would you prove they were his remains? We don't have any original DNA.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • W0lfman

      I'm sure the church recorded his birthday accurately – that is one of the advantages of ritual. The Feast of John the Baptist comes from that time, although they had different names for the months. And, as only holy relics are included in reliquaries, whose remains would be in one marked June 24 if not John the Baptist? Still, there is no way to absolutely positive. I thought the head was originally presented to Herodias however, after Salome won it. It is possible that she didn't want to keep it and gave the head back to his disciples.

      August 5, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      The same way I know there is a god. By faith, my son. God is speaking to my heart and telling me these are the remains of John. He is a Methodist now. The sermons are shorter.

      It is an important find. The religious find great Juju in ancient body parts. I am expecting many miracles from these remains. Praise the lord!

      August 6, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
  9. Yeahimright

    Bible thump 101, God is a stand alone, Christ isn't a person of flesh and never will be, The second coming is a story to give credentials to the jesus mythos, The Messiah is the flesh made holy through the annointing of Gods spirit, He isn't God, Christ is just a metaphore for the Spirit of God joined to the flesh, Still not God. And yet the hand still stretches. Not 1 of these posts are worthy of consideration. You will find shame in your beliefs only when understanding stands before you.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
    • W0lfman

      I don't believe in Islam and I never will.

      August 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  10. Truth Believer

    "We must question the logic of having an all-knowing, all-powerful God, who creates faulty humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes." - Gene Roddenberry

    August 5, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
    • W0lfman

      None of us was ever created faulty.

      August 5, 2010 at 8:30 pm |
  11. W0lfman

    I see now the atheists' problem: they are so stupid. They think reading books and regurgitating knowledge means they're intelligent – they are the pharisees of modern times, the same kind that had Jesus killed.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  12. Fr John

    Nate, I find it ironic, that when Christ encountered Nathanael, in John 1:47, He said, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile" That Jesus, what a sense of humor!

    August 5, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  13. again

    #1 usually when there is a big Bang the pieces go flying in a million different directions or something is killed, damaged etc.

    #2. God said there will always be the poor. yes men do a lot of things in Gods name and that is because they are liars. It is human condition because of the original sin for man to live according to his intellegence, It is a proven fact that humans do not use most of their brain. That should tell you something

    August 5, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @again

      You said, "#1 usually when there is a big Bang the pieces go flying in a million different directions or something is killed, damaged etc."

      At the time of the big bang, there were no "pieces" . The heat would have been hotter than the Christian hell. Only after cooling did we start to get solids.

      You said, "#2. God said there will always be the poor. yes men do a lot of things in Gods name and that is because they are liars. It is human condition because of the original sin for man to live according to his intellegence, It is a proven fact that humans do not use most of their brain. That should tell you something"

      It is a myth that we only use a small percentage of our brains. This would be a google moment.

      The creation story, told about in the bible, is a myth. Science has proven it to be silly.
      If the story told in Genesis didn't happen, then there is no original sin. No fall of man.
      If there was no fall, then there is no need for a redeemer. Good thing Jesus has carpentry skills.
      If there is no redeemer, because there is no need, then where does that leave the Christian religion?

      August 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
    • Guest

      David Johnsin-

      I give up....is in Atheistic slums?

      August 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  14. Jamason

    To: Langkard I NEVER read or post ANYTHING to a Blog. However, I seen and read all of your post here. Honestly I just had to tell you that I am absolutely impressed with your intellect. Impressive.. I am myself a very indepth thinker and appreciate others that are as well. Regardless of whether I agree or not. Which in this case I TOTALLY agree with you. Ohh and be careful of Catholic MOM there.... LOL Seems like you ruffled her feathers. No I just wanted to say Thank You for the insight, and views that you shared here. Do you have a book or a Blog that you frequently comment on? Would enjoy seeing some more of your work.

    Thanks,

    Jamason

    P.S. I don't know how these Blogs work to be honest. I have never been on one before. I assume that I will get a email if you reply to this Post????

    August 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Rewriting history is easy and does not require in-depth thinking.

      August 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  15. angela

    Thank you, coqcheney....lol....as i stated....it may seem irrational to you...and others....but it makes perfect sense to me....as far as your comment regarding "flaws" in his work, if you were to, out of amusement even, open to the beginning, you would see that He acknowledges his flaw in creating man....he sees the corruption of man....furthermore, i dont claim to be christian, buddist, jewish, methodist or any other religion because as you stated....i too believe, albeit for different reasons, that each religion in its own way is wrong....i claim only to believe in God and trust that Jesus died for our sins....i believe the words in the Book because it speaks to me....to my heart....my heart, in all of my life, has never let me down....my soul if you will....your opinion of creation is yours...no one will change that...only you can....all those of us who believe in God can do, is spread our message....im not forcing anything down your throat or anyone elses....its your choice, and i will respect that....i ask that you respect my choices as well....

    August 5, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
    • angela

      as i said previously....i would rather live my life, believing in God and trying to live my life for Him, and end up nothing more than worm food (which i wouldnt know i was....cuz id be dead) than live my life not believing and trusting his word and realize i had been wrong this whole time.....

      August 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
    • CoqCheney

      I have read "Of Beginnings...," which is the translation of that word which I prefer. Have you ever read it in Hebrew? Side-stepped to Aramaic? Investigated it's glyph reading, which the Kabbala recommends? There are many numeric readings to be absorbed, as well. Did you know there is a way to read it from a numeric perspective that is neither numerology or gematria?

      What if I were to tell you that the Christian notion of Jesus - called Mashiach, or Messiah - was not originally a person, but a reference to particular qualities of the number seven, when following Judeo mysticism. It is represented by the letter "n" (nun), and is the fourteenth letter/number to appear. There is way too much to get into here, but the short of it is that goupings of seven have a particular ability that appears through the majority of possible number systems. There is a minimal entropy, so to speak... one that is lower than for ANY other number. While not fitting into a lot of systems perfectly, divisions of seven get "close" to almost ALL. It is a metaphor for good humor, mercy, acquiescence... acceptance of your surroundings. There are great things in those books. No doubt.
      Wouldn't you like to find out for yourself?

      August 5, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  16. Truth Believer

    The truth is, religion was formed to control people who are unable to grasp nuances and unable to think beyond a certain scope, those who are unwilling or unable follow what is perhaps the single most powerful and significant of all Christ's (and Buddha's, and the Tao's, etc.) teachings: that is, to seek God within. Not in a priest. Not in a building. Not in an organized institution. Within yourself.

    August 5, 2010 at 1:38 pm |
  17. TeaPartier

    Its quite simple really. Its been prophesied and this proves it. Barack Obama IS a Kenyan Muslim. Thats why I'm voting Republican now and forever...

    August 5, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
    • angela

      this may seem completely irrational to you, but i will not vote either way, ever.....no politian since our fore fore fathers have even made a difference in this world....things have always been on a downhill spiral, and just getting worse....i want absolutely no part of what inevitabley (sp) going to happen....

      August 5, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
    • CoqCheney

      By removing your opinion from votes, you strengthen the vote of one who opposes your opinion. That is how voting systems generally work.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  18. jerry

    to all those people who think that we are created by man answer me this question WHO CREATED THE FIRST HUMNAN BEING CALLED ADAM werther you like it or not GOD IS REAL GOD IS LOVE GOD KNOWS ALL ABOUT YOU AND MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE GOD WANTS TO HAVE A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU GOD DIDNT WRITE JOHN 3:16 FOR NO REASON god loves every person on this earth and knows everythintg about them whether you like it or not PERIOD

    August 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • CoqCheney

      There is no evidence of any specific "human man" being the first of our species. There is no reason to think that the name "Adam," or any other name was given to that supposed individual. We don't know if verbal language had reached any useful sophistication by the time our current species evolved, or if the concept of naming objects would have arisen so early.

      August 5, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  19. CoqCheney

    "If prayer worked, rich men would pay people to pray for them." - old Yiddish proverb

    August 5, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
  20. CoqCheney

    Well, if god is so pleased by having people get together and think about how awesome he is once a week, wouldn't he want man to stick around? At least for the ego boost?

    August 5, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • angela

      a building where people gather once a week to discuss how "awesome" (although He is amazing) is not church....im guessing this is what your referring to....whether you choose to accept this or not....this...here....what we're doing by discussing it....is church....its not about ego either....He doesnt need that....He wants to give mankind the chance to join him....He will end what man himself created....our own demise....and yes...it probably will be at the hands of other ppl....whatever tool He decides to use will be the end.....we as humans are hateful, jealous, deceiptful, conceited, selfish, greedy, lustful.....everything we shouldnt have been.....n u wonder y he wants to destroy this?.....the better question would be, why would he want to keep things the way they are.....

      August 5, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
    • CoqCheney

      If "He" is the omnipotent creator, then why are there flaws in "His" work? Was that beyond "His" control? If we are here to learn "His" will, why present it in such a cryptic way? It's as though Christians, or any religion, claim to know the secret handshake for the universe, yet none of these religions seem to agree on what that handshake is? Does that support the theory that there IS a handshake?
      What makes you so sure that this one heavily-edited, often mistranslated text has the accurate portrayal of our existence? How can you be sure "god" is a "Him" without referring to your own holy book? Why not a "Her," or "It," or "Them?" There are many MORE plausible theories describing a disinterested or even malicious creator? We ourselves gather together animals and rule their actions... all in the interest of feeding on them. Have you evidence that this is not the true interest of any being you would call "god?"

      August 5, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Get out of your mind and into your heart – you think too much. And it's not original thinking either. No atheist posting here has come up with one original thought, despite all their boasting. Anyone can read a book, try reading your own heart.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • verify

      W0lfman: You seem to know everything, so perhaps you already know this: The heart is a muscular organ which pumps blood through the body. It does not *know* anything. Its beat will perhaps quicken or flutter or k-thump in response to chemical stimulation from - are you ready for this - the BRAIN.

      August 5, 2010 at 2:47 pm |
    • W0lfman

      Wow, I'll bet you were the smartest one in your class.

      August 5, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.