Archaeologists conducting excavations at the site of an ancient church in Turkey believe they may have found a relic of the cross of Jesus.
The relic was discovered inside a stone chest, unearthed from the ruins of Balatlar Church, a seventh-century building in Sinop, Turkey, situated on the shores of the Black Sea. The church also has frescoes on its walls depicting Jesus, Mary and the Apostles.
“We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified]. This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far,” said the head of the excavations, Professor Gülgün Köroglu.
“During the excavations, we have seen many things that we didn’t know about before. Sinop has gained a very good ancient site that we will show visitors,” Köroglu said, adding that they had discovered the skeletons of over 1,000 people during the four years of excavations.
The chest has been taken to a laboratory for further study, and the works are continuing.
The cross upon which Jesus was crucified has been the object of much religious interest, as well as some controversy. Numerous churches around the world claim to possess a small relic of the wooden cross, but the authenticity of the relics is doubted by some critics.
Protestant theologian John Calvin, a famed 16th-century skeptic of religious relics like the so-called "true cross," once remarked that "if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load."
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