Just days after U.S. Ambassador Callista Gingrich returned to the Vatican Library a 1493 letter from Christopher Columbus to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, a letter that had been in the Vatican library, was stolen and sold at auction in the U.S. to an unsuspecting buyer, a one-sentence announcement came today from the Bishops of the U.K. that a relic of Pope Clement I, found in a trash bin in London, will be returned to Westminster cathedral. There will be a press conference and photo opportunity tomorrow in London.
A CNA story from May 6 when the relic was found gives us a bit of history:
London, England, May 6, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- You know the old saying – one person’s trash is another person’s 2,000 year-old sacred bone fragment of an early pope. An environmental waste company in London had a surprise discovery last week when they uncovered a reliquary in the garbage containing a bone of St. Clement, a Church Father and the fourth Pope.
The company, which posted about the discovery on their website April 25, said they could not pinpoint the exact location that the relic had come from, but they do know that it was collected in the garbage somewhere in central London.
“You can imagine our amazement when we realised our clearance teams had found bone belonging to a Pope – it’s not something you expect to see, even in our line of work,” James Rubin, owner of Enviro Waste, said in a statement on the company’s website.
“We often come across some weird and wonderful things on clearances, but we were definitely not expecting to find a bone fragment of an apostle,” he added. (Image from Catholic Ireland, Basilica of St. ClementI)
It is believed that St. Clement converted from Judaism to Catholicism, and may have shared in some of the missionary journeys of St. Peter or St. Paul, and assisted them in running the Church at the local level.
According to one account, he died in exile during the reign of the Emperor Trajan, who purportedly banished Clement to Crimea and had him killed in retaliation for evangelizing the local people, around the year 100. He is among the saints mentioned in the Roman Canon.
In 868, the Greek missionary St. Cyril claimed to have recovered St. Clement’s bones.
So far, no one has reached out to claim the relic, Rubin told the Huffington Post. He added that he is seeking the help of a U.K. laboratory to have the relic carbon dated to test its authenticity. The bone fragment is encased in a wax-sealed case and includes an inscription that it is “from the bones of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr.”
On their website, Enviro Waste has set up an electronic suggestion box, asking the public where the final resting place of the relic should be.
“We know this is an important piece of history and are keen to find the most appropriate place for its final resting place, which is why we’re asking for help from members of the public,” Rubin said.
So far, suggestions have included the British Museum or the Church of St. Clement in Rome.
VISITING THE VATICAN AND SKIPPING THE LINES
I get so many emails asking for travel advice, the majority about the Vatican, of course, that I thought I’d help those of you planning a trip by posting links to the offices that will help you get a papal blessing, tickets to a papal general audience or Mass, reserve a visit to the scavi and reserve tickets to various Vatican Museum events:
FOR PAPAL BLESSINGS:
TICKETS TO PAPAL GENERAL AUDIENCES AND MASSES:
RESERVATIONS TO TOUR THE SCAVI:
RESERVATIONS FOR VATICAN MUSEUMS TOURS AND EVENTS