August 4, 2010 Leave a comment
Today, when I got to work, I immediately began my normal routine. No, I wasn’t actually working, I was checking news websites, blogs and other such odd internet locations. During this search, I saw an interesting title on BBC News which read “Remains of St. John the Bapist Found.” I was disappointed to find that the article was ridiculously short and somewhat misleading, saying not much more than “Bone fragments of St. John the Baptist appear to have been found on Sveti Ivan Island near Bulgaria’s southern black sea.” Check it out here:
Essentially, archaeologists have found the reminas of iconic Christian figure, and while they were waiting on a few more tests to be completed, they decided to go public with their best guess as to who this person was. I decided to go on my own dig of sorts, through the internet, to see what I could find.
First, I wanted to know what exactly was found. From what I could research, late last month a reliquary (a container that holds ‘holy relics’) made of alabaster was discovered on an island in the Black Sea named Sveti Ivan (which translates into ‘St. John’ in Bulgarian apparently). It just so happens that in the 11th century a monastery was built and dedicated to St. John. Inside this container were some skull fragments, a tooth, and some
phalanges (bones from a human hand). According to Kazimir Popkonstantinov, the lead archeologist, exacavator and the one who lifted the lid of the reliquary, this container dates back to about the middle of the 5th century.
My next question was why is this discovery so significant and how can it be linked to St. John the Bapist? The date ‘June 24th’ was found carved in Greek on the alabaster reliquary. This is the day some Christians celebrate the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, also know as the ‘Fest of John the Baptist.” Like I mentioned before, further tests are to be carried out on the fragments. Even without the test results complete, the discovery has been enough to convince Popkonstantinov that these are indeed the remains of the iconic Christian figure.
I must admit it would be pretty cool if these fragments do date back to the time of Christ, but as usual I am a bit skeptical. The date found on the reliquary, June 24th, isn’t enough evidence to convince me outright. It is possible that this could be a fraud. Sadly, frauds aren’t that uncommon with religious artifacts, even during this time period. Some pieces of fraudulent Christian relics include a multitude of crowns made of thorn, pieces of the ‘true’ cross, multiple Shrouds of Turin, the nails that held Christ to the cross during his crucifixtion and many Holy Grails, one of which dates back to the 4th century. Even St. John has been ‘hoaxed’ before, with 2 heads that held the claim to be his. In all, a simple date isn’t enough to persuade me that this recent discovery is indeed authentic. If the pieces are carbon dated back to the time of Christ, could anyone even possibly be able to identify them as belonging to St. John? Or will it have to be taken on as an act of faith?