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Posts Tagged ‘body parts’

Religious Relics

In Europe, the main tourist attraction in pretty much every town is the cathedral. So if you’re planning on touring a lot in Europe, you’ll most certainly be seeing a lot of frescos, domes, and flying buttresses in your lifetime.

At first, they are majestic and beautiful and stunning. Then they all start running together and you have a hard time distinguishing between them in your memories and photographs. Then you get to the point where if you see another gilded hard-carved pulpit, you’ll want to flagellate your own eyeballs out. Or at the very least, the eyes of the nearest altar boy.

But luckily, those daft Europeans have another tradition other than architectural one-ups-manship, and that’s the business of collecting and displaying gruesome religious relics.

In the olden days, the cathedrals had to compete for the pilgrimage dollars. The best way to do this was to offer something you couldn’t see anywhere else. Namely: the decaying (or non-decaying, as it were) body parts of the not-so-recently departed saints and messiahs.

So in nearly every major town in every major city in Europe, you can now see the fingers, lungs, tongues, blood samples, and whole bodies of the previously departed on display for the morbidly devoted to stare at. It’s entirely gruesome and macabre, and entirely in disconcert with your majestic surroundings, which is what makes it so entierely awesome.

They even classify them. First Class relics are the actual body parts, bones, hair clippings, etc. Second Class relics are just clothes or crucifixes owned by those whose actual body parts would have been First Class relics. Meh. Third Class relics are barely worth mentioning. They are just items that any saint or martyr may have touched in his or her lifetime, meaning nearly everything on the planet is probably a relic of some sort. So let’s just focus on the big dogs and have some Close Encounters with relics of the First Kind:

An Army or Arm Bone Relics:

An Army of Relics

The Hair/Fright Wig of Saint Claire:

The Hair of St. Clair

St. Catherine’s Severed Head and Whithered Finger

Up Yours

Holy Black Tongue, Batman!

Holy Black Tongue, Batman!

Even today, body parts draw in the crowds.

So for making your fiftieth cathedral just as thrilling as your first, religious relics are effing awesome.


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