Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

St John the Baptist

John Dillon posted on the Medieval Religion discussion group about the Orthodox feast of the First and Second Finding of the Head of St John the Baptist, which falls today. I posted about it previously in The First and Second Findings of the Head of St John the Baptist last year, but this year there is an interesting further post from Paul Chandler O, Carm. about a recent discovery that is pertinent to the feast:

Guibert de Nogent (1053-1121) already noted in his Treatise on Relics the existence of several "heads of John the Baptist", one in Constantinople and another in Angers. At the time of composition he did not know of another nearby head of the Baptist which was given to the bishop of Amiens in 1206 and was the occasion for the construction of the cathedral <http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-head-of-st-john-the-baptist-at-amiens-cathedral>. There is another in San Silvestro in Capite in Rome, and another in the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, and various others. 

Interestingly, recent archaeological work at the ancient church site of Sveti Ivan (Saint John) near Sozopol in Bulgaria turned up bone fragments in a 5/6th-century marble casket from Constantinople. Surprisingly, carbon-dating assigned a 1st-century date to the bones, and DNA testing a Middle Eastern origin. That does not prove a connection to John the Baptist, of course, but is intriguing. Some non-credulous reports:

    Science Daily:


    Oxford News&Events:

    Archaeology In Bulgaria (illustrations):

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