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Relic of John The Baptist May Have Been Discovered in Bulgaria

Scientists in Bulgaria are investigating whether a knucklebone and other human remains found under a church floor in Bulgaria are those of John the Baptist.

The relics were found in a small marble sarcophagus two years ago on the Bulgarian island of Sveti Ivan, which translates as Saint John. 

Also found were a human tooth, part of a skull and three animal bones. 

A research team from Oxford University in England has dated the right-handed knucklebone to the first century AD when John the Baptist was beheaded by King Herod.  Meanwhile, scientists from the University of Copenhagen, who analysed the bones DNA, said that they come from a single individual, most probably a man, from a family in the modern day Middle East where John would have lived.

If the bones are shown to come from the right hand of John the Baptist, if would have huge significance worldwide as it was with his right hand that John the Baptist is said to have baptised Jesus in the River Jordan. 

Speaking on the National Geographic Channel this week, Professor Tom Higham from Oxford University, who headed up the research said, “The result from the metacarpal hand bone is clearly consistent with some who lived in the early first century AD.  Whether that person is John the Baptist is a question that we cannot yet definitely answer and probably never will.”

The find came to light when Bulgarian archaeologists had found a small box made of hardened volcanic ash close to the sarcophagus.  The box bore the inscriptions in ancient Greek that referred to John the Baptist and the date that Christians celebrate his birth, namely June 24.

Bulgaria is not the only country that lays claim to relics of John the Baptist.  A Serbian Orthodox monastery in Montenegro claims to have his right hand while the Grand Mosque in Damascus claims to have his head.

by Sean Ryan



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