A small handful of bones found in an ancient church in Bulgaria may belong to John the Baptist, the biblical figure said to have baptized Jesus.
The Festivals of the Saints John, including John the Baptist, were widely celebrated by Freemasons in centuries past. Traditionally, June 24th, the SUmmer Solstice is associated with John the Baptist. It is considered a day of obligation for Masons.
The bones were found in 2010 by Romanian archaeologists Kazimir Popkonstantinov and Rossina Kostova while excavating an oldchurch site on the island of Sveti Ivan, which translates to St. John. The church was constructed in two periods in the fifth and sixth centuries.
Beneath the altar, the archaeologists found a small marble sarcophagus, about 6 inches long. Inside were six human bones and three animal bones. The next day, the researchers found a second box just 20 inches away. This one was made of volcanic rock called tuff. On it, an inscription read, "Dear Lord, please help your servant Thomas" along with St. John the Baptist's name and official church feast day.
The relic of St. John the Baptist
None of this proves that the bones belonged to a historical figure named John the Baptist, but researchers haven't been able to rule out the possibility, Higham said. Their study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but a program detailing the research will be aired on the United Kingdom National Geographic Channel on Sunday. National Geographic funded the research.
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