May 25, 2018

The Location Where the Head of St. John the Baptist Was Found the Third Time

During the time of Iconoclasm, the head of Saint John the Baptist was secretly taken from Constantinople by pious Christians, who hid it in Comana (or Kamani, near Sukhumi of Abkhazia), the city where Saint Basiliskos was martyred and Saint John Chrysostom died in exile. (In 1884, the Greek scholar Konstantinos Vrissis visited the area and conjectured that it was Kamani, not Comana Pontica, where John Chrysostom died and was initially buried). In Comana it was taken up a mountain and hidden in a place difficult to get to. When Orthodoxy was reestablished in Constantinople, a divine vision came to a priest in Comana informing him of the location of the head of Saint John, and by imperial decree it was brought back to Constantinople, where it was received by the Emperor and Patriarch and all the Orthodox people, and placed in Studion Monastery for veneration. This took place in the year 850 and is celebrated as the Third Finding of the Head of Saint John the Baptist.

The location of the third finding of the head is a large oval niche cut in the rock in a hard-to-reach place. The niche, in which the great Christian shrine has been kept for a long time, is open to pilgrims. Between the lamp and the icon of the Mother of God is the miraculous image of the head of John the Baptist.

There are several possible options to get to the holy place where the head of Saint John was found for the third time. The easiest is by car. After the bridge in Comana, the road goes down to the Church of Saint Basiliskos of Comana and to the Church of Saint John Chrysostom. You follow the road for approximately 4.5 km to the parking lot. It is necessary to keep on the main path, and along the way there will be a small bend in the form of a Z. As you go along the snow caps of the mountains and the path will be visible in the distance, and you will bifurcate to the left. The main landmark of the right path will be a small palm tree. Next, you'll see a small pointer in the form of a red arrow. Then you will come to iron stairs to the shrine; there are about 1,000 stairs to the shrine. When you come to the shrine you will see the image of the head of Saint John the Baptist, which according to tradition was the location of the head when discovered in 850, and the image is said to have been made miraculously without human hands.

Coordinates of the parking lot before the ascent: 43° 6'30" N 41° 0'13" E

Coordinates of the place of finding: 43° 6'29" N 41° 0'3" E

Coordinates of the beginning of the path: 43° 5'24" N 41° 1'23" E