Precious relic of St. John the Baptist discovered after centuries

Discovery of a precious relic of St. John the Baptist found after centuries in the Reliquary of San Simeone Stilita, containing 11 other bone fragments of saints, in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence. The relic will be exhibited to the faithful in the Cathedral of Florence on Thursday 24 June, on the occasion of the feast of the patron saint of the city of Florence. It will then remain preserved in the Cathedral in an ancient 19th century reliquary, a gift from a devotee. The discovery, the Opera del Duomo announces, is due to Alessandro Bicchi, deacon of the Cathedral and deputy director of the Diocesan Office for Sacred Art and Ecclesiastical Cultural Heritage, who has been studying the relics of the Cathedral of Florence for years, in particular those from the East, the results of which will be presented in a book written with another author and forthcoming. The relic, a neck bone of the Baptist, belonged to the Byzantine emperor Giovanni VI Cantacuzeno (1292 – 1383). Forced to abdicate and become a monk in 1357, the relic of the Baptist together with those of other saints passed into the possession of the Florentine nobleman Antonio di Pietro Torrigiani, for years a collaborator of the Emperor. Part of these relics were then sold by Torrigiani to the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena. After the death of the Florentine nobleman, the Venetian widow Nicoletta Grioni donated the relics that remained in her possession in 1394, including this one of the Baptist, to the Arte di Calimala for the Baptistery of Florence, where they remained until 1700. Battista was certainly kept in a reliquary that was lost in the sixteenth century, perhaps melted or damaged by the flood of 1557, and then inserted in the reliquary of San Simeone Stilita of the fourteenth-fifteenth century together with the other sacred fragments. Santa Maria del Fiore following an extensive restoration campaign that involved the works of the Opera del Duomo Museum, entrusted the Opificio delle Pietre Dure with the restoration of the goldsmiths including the Reliquary of San Simeone Stilita. At the end of the restoration, Archbishop Cardinal Giuseppe Betori asked the Opera to be able to take the relic of the Baptist in order to study it and finally be sure that it was that of the Patron Saint of Florence, mentioned in the ancient documents, as hypothesized by the deacon Bicchi.The presence of the saint’s initials, written in Greek characters directly on the bone with black ink, and a minute inscription in ancient Greek engraved on the gilded silver bezel, placed at the top of the vertebra, with written, translated into Italian: “Relic of St. John the Precursor”, confirmed that it is precisely the relic of the Baptist that came from Constantinople. “This discovery removes an important relic of the Baptist from oblivion and returns to the knowledge and worship of the faithful of the Catholic Church – says the archbishop Cardinal Giuseppe Betori – especially to the veneration of the faithful belonging to the sister Churches of the East, who enthusiastically or visit the Duomo and the other Florentine churches to pay homage to the numerous memories of the undivided Church and to admire the countless works of art that Christian culture has produced over the centuries. “” Looking for a relic may seem anachronistic or appear only a curiosity aimed at the acquisition, through ancient documents, of historical data or the recovery of an anthropological find – explains deacon Alessandro Bicchi – But honoring the body of the saints or part of them reminds us how, despite human frailty, they have testified in an exceptional way the strength and tenderness of belonging to Christ. The relic offers the faithful the possibility of coming into contact with the venerated and invoked saint, making the mysterious power of the sacred perceptible “.

1 thought on “Precious relic of St. John the Baptist discovered after centuries”


Comments are closed.