St John the Baptist Relic Stolen from Bulgarian ChurchCrime | April 12, 2012, Thursday // 08:51| views
The remains, believed to be John the Baptist's, were uncovered in July last year during the excavation of a fourth-century monastery on St. Ivan Island, off Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. Photo courtesy by K. Popkonstaninov
The silver and gold reliquary, a personal gift from Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, containing the relics of St John the Baptist had been returned to the town of Sozopol with one missing bone.
The news was reported Monday by "24 Chassa" (24 Hours) daily and other national media, citing the Sliven Bishop Yoanikiy. He says the theft occurred while the relics were displayed at the Sliven church "St Dimitar."
Father Ivan, from the St. St. Cyril and Methodius in Sozopol, where the relics are housed permanently, had notified as early as April 5 that the content of the reliquary was not returned intact from Sliven.
According to the press, people in Sozopol are alarmed that this great sin can harm their town. Police have launched an investigation in the case.
Remains, believed to be John the Baptist were uncovered on July 28, 2010, during excavations of the floor of the medieval monastery on Saint Ivan island, near Bulgaria's historical, coastal town of Sozopol. They were placed in a sealed reliquary buried next to a tiny urn inscribed with St. John's name and his birth date.
The relics were found by a team of archaeologists, led by Prof. Kazimir Popkonstantinov.
The Bulgarian government decided to benefit from the discovery to boost tourism, going as far as to say that Sozopol will help deal with the economic crisis by becoming the new Jerusalem on the Balkans, attracting believers from all over the world. The cabinet allocated additional funds for the renovation of the St. George church.
In mid-August, 2010, they were transferred to the said silver and gold reliquary, which was handed to the priests in the St. George Church.
At the end June, 2011, the relics were moved to the renovated St. St. Cyril and Methodius church in Sozopol.
When Bulgarian archaeologists declared they had found relics of John the Baptist, one of the most significant early Christian saints, their discovery drew huge interest, much skepticism within the public and some from the archeological community, and even scam allegations.