A bone fragment believed to be that of Pope St. Clement, who died almost 2,000 years ago, was discovered in a trash bin in London, and the garbage disposal company is asking the public for help on where to bring the bone for its proper resting place.
Enviro Waste posted the details of the discovered relic on its official blog. Garbage workers apparently found the bone last year during a routine collection in the streets of London, but only had the piece recently appraised.
The relic is contained in a red and gold wax-sealed dome case with crimson cords. On it is a faded strip that has the Latin words "Ex Oss. S Clementis P.M."
"You can imagine our amazement when we realized our clearance teams had found bone belonging to a Pope," Enviro Waste owner James Rubin told The Guardian. "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," he added.
Artifact experts weighed in on the discovery. According to the Smithsonian, the Catholic Church has collected relics of saints and popes for centuries, but forgery of relics is also common. The site also claimed that there's a small chance St. Clement's relic has been recovered in a historic site in recent times, especially since fake artifacts also proliferated on eBay before 2016.
"It could have been stolen, it could belong to someone and been accidentally thrown out," University of Turku researcher Georges Kazan also told reporters. "If it's authentic, it's not the kind of thing you throw away," he added.
History books described Pope St. Clement as a martyr who became the pontiff around 88 to 99 A.D. and personally knew Jesus Christ's apostles. Little details have been published about his life and death but his remains were reportedly dug up from Crimea and transferred to Italy in 868 A.D.
The San Clemente church in Abruzzo, Italy claims that the pope's remains are still encased in a marble container inside the church, according to The Guardian.