6 Bizarre Holy Relics That Question the Sanity of Religion - Dangerously Genocidal

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Wednesday, 3 May 2017

6 Bizarre Holy Relics That Question the Sanity of Religion

There are so many different religions across the globe that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Even so, you don’t need to ascribe to any of these religions to hear about some of the more well-known relics. After all, who hasn’t heard about the Shroud of Turin, the Spear of Destiny or the Piece of the True Cross? But then there are those other relics. The strange and bizarre relics that should, preferably, be kept hidden in very deep, dark holes. Here are:

6 Bizarre Holy Relics That Question the Sanity of Religion



1. Jesus Christ’s Foreskin

No, you didn’t read that wrong. According to Jewish law, all boys must be circumcised on the eighth day following their birth and, just like these boys, Jesus was circumcised as well. Pretty normal practice, as things go. But then, in the year 800, things started to get a little weird. Claimed to have been brought to him by an angel, emperor Charlemagne gave the foreskin to Pope Leo III, who put it in the Sancta Sanctorum in Rome. After it was stolen by a German soldier, the foreskin spent the next thirty years in a prison cell.

When it was finally rediscovered, it proceeded to perform several miracles (including storms and a nice perfumy fog) and was moved to a church in Calcata where it became a must-see for pilgrims. Of course, if Calcata is too off the beaten path for you, you could see (one of) the 18 reported holy foreskins in Auvergne, Chartres, Metz, Hidlesheim, Langres, or the miraculous bleeding foreskin in Antwerp.

Oh, and if you wanted a particularly blessed experience, you were quite welcome to taste the foreskin. Yum.


2. The Virgin Mary’s Breastmilk

You wouldn’t need to look far to find some depiction of the virgin Mary breastfeeding little baby Jesus – this seems the be a very popular depiction of the virgin mother. But did you know that, aside from its nutritional value, Mary’s milk had quite a few miraculous properties as well? After some of her milk reportedly turned a whole rock white, the Church of Milk Grotto was built on the spot outside Bethlehem.

It gets better. After a statue of Mary was challenged to prove she was a mother by Saint Bernard, it came to life and squirted milk into his eye, curing him of an illness. Several vials of her milk were transported across Europe, with over ninety churches claiming to have some of her miracle working statue-milk.

Personally, I’m with theologian John Calvin who said, “Had the virgin been a cow her whole life she could never have produced such a quantity.” How’s that for a holy mental image?


3. Buddha’s Tooth

As the story goes, Buddha was cremated and a single canine tooth (or four teeth and three bones, depending on who you ask) was recovered from the ashes of the funeral pyre. No one is sure what exactly happened to these relics, since they weren’t sent to the stupas that were meant to house them. One of the teeth, the left canine, did have an interesting adventure. It was enshrined in the capital, and wherever the capital went, so went the tooth – it was said that whoever owned the tooth had the divine right to rule. Naturally, this resulted in a whole lot of trouble.

Several wars were fought over the tooth, and just as many attempts were made to steal it. At one point the king of Bago, Burma, even offered the Portuguese £50,000 for the tooth. Don Constantine de Braganza considered the offer, but the archbishop and several other religious figureheads convinced the Don to destroy the tooth instead. It was ground into powder and tossed into a river. Unfortunately for the King and the Don, they never had the real tooth; it remained in the possession of the King of Kandy. It’s still housed in The Temple of the Sacred Tooth, in Sri Lanka, where thousands get to see it paraded through the streets once a year – unless, you know, it’s performing another miracle to avoid its own destruction.


4. The Prophet Muhammad’s Footprint

Think you can make a lasting impression? You’ve got nothing on the prophet Muhammad, trust me. According to the Muslim belief, wherever Muhammad went his left foot made an impression that wouldn’t go away. In fact, several of these ‘footprints’ have been recovered from across the Middle East and are displayed at mosques and various other religious and historical sites. One even went as far as Istanbul, where it is now displayed in the Topkapi Palace Museum accompanied by a sword, a bow and hair from his beard.

If you ever wanted to follow in the footprints of a religious figure, here’s your chance.


5. Mary Magdalene’s Arm

The arm of Mary Magdalene was housed in the abbey of Fécamp, Normandy, as its most sacred relic. In 1190, Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, wanted to venerate this most precious artefact and, eager to please, the relic was produced by the monks. Hugh immediately opened the silk wrapping so that he could kiss it, but that wasn’t enough for Hughie. First he tried to break off a piece, but when that didn’t work, and desperately wanting to partake of the blessed flesh, the bishop proceeded to gnaw on the relic until he finally managed to bite off two fingers.

His defence? “If a little while ago I handled the sacred body of the Lord with my fingers in spite of my unworthiness, and partook of it with my lips and my teeth, why should I not treat the bones of the saints in the same way – and without profanity acquire them whenever I can.”

How’s that for communion?


6. The Blood of (St. Januarius) San Gennaro, Bishop of Naples

In the year 305, St. Januarius was beheaded at the volcanic crater Solfatara. Just after his death a woman named Eusebia saved some of his blood and it is now kept in Naples Cathredal. What makes the blood so special? In 1389 the coagulated blood ‘melted’, becoming liquid again – and it proceeded to do so ever since, three times a year – or when the pope visits. These liquefactions happen on September 19th, which is St. Januarius’ day, December 16th, the day of his patronage of Naples, and on the Saturday before the first Sunday of May, which commemorates the reunification of his blood and his skull. On these days, thousands gather to watch the displayed blood become liquid once more.

Why is it so important? As the story goes, if the blood doesn’t liquefy on any of those days, bad things are on the horizon. Twice in history it failed to do so – in the year 1527, the year of a plague, and in 1980, the year of the massive Irpinia Earthquake in Southern Italy.

It might be just a superstition but why take the chance, right?




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