Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 160 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Monday, January 17, 2022

St. John the Baptist relics - Rector's Rambling for January 16, 2022

     One of the fascinating things about ancient Christianity is their devotion to our Lord through the veneration of relics of the saints.  The bones, or items that have been associated with the lives of the saints are venerated throughout the history of the church as tangible connection to those who have gone before us in faith, and a reminder of God’s mercy and grace in making people holy.

St. John the Baptist figures prominently in the readings in Advent and Lent, and makes an appearance today on the second Sunday after Epiphany.  It got me wondering whether there are relics attributred to St. John the Baptist.  In doing some research I came upon some information on relics discovered in 2010 in the ruins of a church, Sveti Ivan (St. John) church on an island in Bulgaria.

At this location was found a bone box, an ossuary, with Greek inscription that it contained the bones of St. John the Baptist.  9 bone fragments were found inside. 

The Biblical Archeology Society reported that carbon dating puts the bones as being from the first century AD, and that the DNA is consistent with that of a man from the middle east.  As they report in their publication, “The confirmed date of a knucklebone is far from final proof that the Bulgarian bones belonged to John the Baptist. A conclusive association between supposed relics and their Saint is impossible to establish; however, the research conducted by Oxford’s Tom Higham and Christopher Ramsey does prove that the “relics” have a better case for authenticity than previously imagined.”

Fascinating research into the person of John the Baptist, and proof of the importance of his mission and ministry to the early church.


Tomorrow, God willing, I will be celebrating my 33rd anniversary of sobriety.  This is a most precious gift of grace that I have received, having had my last drink while only 22 years old.  My coming to sobriety is a gift that was aided by the fellowship of others living a radical life turned over to the care of God and by the spiritual principles laid out in the 12 steps, one day at a time.