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.
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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. [CNN}
I couldn’t be more convinced if the inscription actually had John’s name on it in Greek. Exactly what tests would be supportive of these remains being fragments of John the Baptist’s skeleton? None that I can think of. The reliquary in which the relics are preserved apparently dates to the 5th century CE. There’s even a story of how old John’s fragments came to be in the reliquary. Constantine gave them to the monastery.
And as the article says, several places, including the Topkapi Palace museum in Istanbul, have relics of John the Baptist. According to Wikipedia, his arm and part of his skull are in Istanbul; an(other?) arm and a skull fragment are in the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Scetes, Egypt; his right hand is in the Serbian Orthodox Cetinje monastery in Montenegro but apparently also in Romanian skete of the Forerunner on Mount Athos; Another part of his skull is in the Gandzasar Monastery’s Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Nagorno Karabakh. One can visit part of one of his hands in the Armenian Apostolic Church, “St. John’s” at Chinsurah, West Bengal, India. Other bits and pieces, now lost, were once scattered around here and there. And for now, you can visit fragments of his skull, his hand and a tooth in Bulgaria.
I am reminded of the opening lines of the Canterbury Tales
When the sweet showers of April have pierced to the root the dryness of March and bathed every vein in moisture by which strength are the flowers brought forth; when Zephyr also with his sweet breath has given spirit to the tender new shoots in the grove and field, and the young sun has run half his course through Aries the Ram, and little birds make melody and sleep all night with an open eye, so nature pricks them in their hearts; then people long to go on pilgrimages to renowned shrines in various distant lands, and palmers to seek foreign shores.
“When the sweet showers of April have pierced to the root the dryness of March,” why not go to visit fragments of John the Baptist in Bulgaria.