The World's Grossest Catholic Relics
The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics

Tim Flight - January 29, 2019

In 2009, a famous tour came to London. Every day for several weeks, people queued in their thousands, huddled into little groups and raising flimsy umbrellas against the old city’s autumnal drizzle. Big Ben chimed another hour gone, the sun began to retreat behind clouds, but still, they waited, inching forward every so often, chattering in anticipation at their coming few minutes with the star of the show. In all, 100, 000 people showed up. But were they there to see a pop star? The Queen? No, the bones of Therese of Lisieux, a French nun who died in 1897.

Relics are physical objects directly connected to a saint, such as implements used to execute them, one of their belongings, or… a piece of them. Catholics believe that God acts through relics, and so they form an important part of their faith. However, no one ever specified which former belongings or parts of a saint’s body are not holy, and so a host of strange dismemberments and items have surfaced since the relic’s medieval heyday. Make sure you’re not eating as you peruse this list of the world’s 20 most disgusting Catholic relics, from Christ’s foreskin to holy nipples…

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The Severed Head of St Catherine, in her hometown of Siena. WordPress

20. The Basilica San Domenico in Siena has the severed head of the city’s most famous saint, Catherine.

Catherine of Siena (c.1347-80) was a truly astonishing woman. After forsaking her family’s riches and the promise of a comfortable marriage to a nobleman, she joined the Dominican Order and experienced mystical visions. She later became famous for her charitable work with the despised poor of Tuscany and was such an intellectual heavyweight that she successfully bullied and intimidated the corrupt male clergy and undertook political duties unheard of for a 14th-century woman. When she died of a stroke in 1380, mourning was understandably widespread, but her devotees weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to her forever…

You could make a fortune in the Middle Ages from the countless pilgrims wanting to visit tombs and relics, and so it is no surprise to learn that when she died in Rome, the city wanted to keep her there. Not to be defied, her followers from Siena managed to decapitate her displayed corpse and hid Catherine’s head in a bag. When searched by guards, they prayed to the late holy woman for protection, and her head miraculously disappeared from sight, only to re-materialize upon arriving in Siena, where it’s been making tourists feel sick ever since.

 

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The Hand of King Stephen, Budapest. Pinterest

19. The right hand of King Stephen, on display in Budapest, is nearly 1,000 years old.

Stephen I of Hungary (c.975-1038) was not only the first Steve to be King of Hungary, but Hungary’s first king, period. Stephen endeared himself to Rome by devoting much of his reign to establishing an orthodox form of Catholicism amongst his subjects and was named King by Pope Sylvester II in 1001. He also found the time to defeat surrounding nations in battle and quell discord amongst his own people. He was originally buried in Székesfehérvár, where his original coffin still survives, and soon tales of miracles taking place at his sarcophagus spread far and wide.

The tomb’s popularity was such that Stephen’s body had to be removed to an underground catacomb to protect it. Sometime during this relocation, his right hand was stolen by the man who was supposed to be guarding the body. The missing hand was eventually recovered in 1084 and was put on display in Szentjobb (which means ‘right hand’ in Hungarian) for everyone to enjoy. After various peregrinations around Europe due to war and political instability, the shriveled hand arrived in Budapest in 1771, where it now lives in St Stephen’s Cathedral and enjoys an annual procession around the city.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
A miracle takes place… Pope Francis kisses the reliquary containing St Januarius’s dried blood, causing it to liquefy, Naples, 2015. La Stampa

18. The dried blood of St Januarius still liquefies three times a year.

We know very little about St. Januarius (d. c.305), Bishop of Benevento, except that he was one of many early Christians executed by the bloodthirsty Emperor Diocletian. Diocletian originally planned to feed him to bears, so he was lucky only to be imprisoned and beheaded. According to legend, a woman named Eusebia had the foresight to collect the blood gushing from his neck in a couple of phials, which are now cherished relics in Naples, which purchased them in the 5th century. You’d think the blood would be dry after over 1700 years, right? Wrong (sort of).

The blood of Januarius is usually dry, but it miraculously liquefies every year on his three feast days. On these days (above), the phials in their ornate reliquary are held aloft while prayers are recited in the Cathedral of Naples. Eventually, the crusty contents liquefy and bubble with great enthusiasm, to the amazement of the congregation. The thrice-annual miracle remains one of the most controversial events in the Catholic calendar. Despite many ingenious attempts to expose the miracle as a hoax, nothing has been determined, since the Cathedral has understandably no interest in giving the phials up for scientific analysis.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The preserved heart of St Camillus. Flickr

17. The Camillian Order still have the heart of their founder, St. Camillus.

Camillus of Lellis (1550-1614) started life as a very naughty boy. Standing at a whopping 6’6″ (very rare in the 16th century, when people were generally much shorter), the short-tempered Camillus fought in the Venetian Army, and had a serious gambling problem. After betting, and subsequently losing, everything he owned, he experienced a religious conversion, and in 1585 founded the Camillian Order of male nurses, which became the first military ambulance unit in history. Camillus was in near-constant ill health himself, with a particularly nasty leg-wound deemed incurable by contemporary doctors, which gave him acute sympathy for the sick.

Appropriately enough for a medical man, Camillus was subject to an autopsy after he died in 1614. But when his heart was removed, according to his biographer, ‘it seemed a ruby and it was so large that those who saw it admired it’, and so it was decided to preserve the giant’s ticker for everyone’s enjoyment. After all, Camillus had always been praised for his big heart, so why not make the praise disgusting literal? The heart was sent to Naples, where it was encased in a glorious reliquary. The heart now lives in Rome, but frequently goes on tour.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The Circumcision of Christ, detail from the Twelve Apostles Altar by Friedrich Herlin of Nördlingen, Rothenburg, 1466. Wikimedia Commons

16. So many medieval churches claimed to own the foreskin of Jesus (yes, really) that specimens were subjected to a taste test.

Medieval theologians raged and spat at one another until they were red in the face about the question of whether Jesus was circumcised. On the one hand, he was Jewish, and so presumably underwent the mutilation, but then he was the Image of God (Imago Dei), and so many countered that his body would have to be whole. Moreover, medieval Catholicism detested the Jewish people, and wanted as few reminders of the Saviour’s Semitic origins as possible, and many thought it best to ignore the explicit testimony of the Gospel of Luke 2:22 about the whole event.

But despite, or perhaps because of, the controversy, no fewer than 12 churches across Europe had foreskins on display that they said came from the Son of God’s own phallus. These Holy Prepuces – or foreskins – fetched big money on the relics market, and the various churches claiming to have the real one invented fantastic legends about how they came to own this particular piece of history. Incredibly, competition amongst foreskin-owners was so hot that some Holy Prepuces were verified as real by ‘qualified persons’, who would chew them to determine their authenticity… let’s leave it there.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The preserved tongue of St Anthony of Padua, Padua. Twitter

15. St Anthony of Padua’s tongue is still on display in the Italian city, nearly 800 years after he died.

Although a native of Lisbon, St. Anthony (1195-1231) is most closely associated with the city of Padua in northern Italy, where he spent the final years of his short life. He actually came to Italy by accident, after his ship was blown off course on its way back to Portugal from Morocco, where he had gone to preach to locals as a Franciscan friar. But once in Italy, he never looked back. After becoming an accomplished theologian, Anthony made his name unleashing inspirational sermons that won the Catholic Church many new members and set lapsed Christians back on track.

Hailed as a ‘jewel case of the Bible’ by none other than the Pope himself for his exquisite sermons, the relics of St. Anthony are not coincidental. He was canonised with astonishing rapidity within a year of dying from ergot poisoning, and when his body was exhumed in 1263 to be reburied his famous tongue was found to be wet and the only part of his body yet to decompose. It was hailed as a miracle, removed to a reliquary and, whilst it is anything but moist these days, can still be seen at the Basilica of St. Anthony.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The hair clippings of St Clare of Assisi, Assisi. WordPress

14. St. Clare of Assisi had beautiful hair when alive, and clippings of it are on display in Assisi… along with her fingernails.

Although often overshadowed by her more famous mentor, Francis, Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) still founded her own order of nuns, the Poor Clares. Inspired by Francis’s preaching when she was still a teenager, Clare renounced the world, and founded the order based on the ideals of extreme poverty and contemplation. The order spread like wildfire even during her lifetime, and soon houses of Poor Clares were established as far away as Britain. It’s a measure of her inspirational life and example that she inspired such devotion, given that she never left her own convent at Assisi.

What made Clare’s decision to give up the worldly life especially inspiring to others was that she was not only born into great wealth, but was extremely beautiful. She was blessed with especially lovely hair. Francis trimmed her flowing locks as a physical manifestation of her rejecting her former, vain existence. Someone collected these tresses, and they were later encased in a reliquary at the Basilica named in her honour. The Basilica also contains a beautiful rock crystal flask containing… Clare’s clipped fingernails. How these disgusting body parts came to be preserved is, sadly, not recorded.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio, Rome, c.1601. Wikimedia Commons

13. The Finger of Doubting Thomas, once shoved in the resurrected Christ’s wounded side, is in Rome.

Thomas the Apostle is the spiritual brother of all cynics, sceptics, and rational thinkers. He was the one who refused to believe the gossip from his fellow Apostles that Jesus had come back to life. Christ eventually physically appeared before his sceptical friend and allowed him to shove a finger into the wound in his holy side to make certain. This was sufficiently convincing for Tom, who hailed the man stood before him as Lord and God. Jesus forgave him, albeit with the admonishment: ‘blessed are they that have not seen and have believed’ (John 20:29).

As well as giving us the idiom, ‘Doubting Thomas’, for anyone incredulous, Thomas also brought into legend the most famous finger of all time. And you can see the offending digit for yourself at the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome. It’s unclear when they came by the bone, but it’s certainly holy: the finger of a saint, which touched both Jesus and his holy blood. It has unsurprisingly proved a big draw for centuries of pilgrims, who can also see fragments of the cross on which Christ was crucified when they tire of being pointed at.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
Saint Francis Xavier taking leave of King John III by José de Avelar Rebelo, Lisbon, 1635. Wikimedia Commons

12. The Toe of St Francis Xavier was bitten off by a mourner, and smuggled from Goa to Portugal.

‘Behold I send you as lambs among wolves’ (Luke 10:3), thundered Christ to his disciples when sending them out to convert the masses. Well, he may have been speaking to his disciples, but in the 16th century he was heard by Frances Xavier (1506-52). A Jesuit, in 1541 Xavier spent 13 months fighting off sea sickness on a boat bound for Goa, India. He converted the Goans, then made his way across Asia, converting communities and leaving churches in his wake. In Japan, he made an abandoned Buddhist monastery his headquarters, and converted 2, 000 people to Christianity.

Xavier died of exhaustion on an island off China in 1552. His body was put on display in Goa, where thousands travelled to pay their respects and mourn this energetic evangelist. One devoted woman took things a little too far, however. Bending as if to kiss his foot, she promptly bit off one of his toes, and took it back to Portugal with her. She displayed it in her own chapel, where it drew in the big tourist bucks, and still attracts crowds of devotees to this day. Slightly less-impressively, a village in Goa has of one of Xavier’s fingernails.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The Foot Reliquary of St Blaise, France., c.1260 The Treasure of Oignies

11. A piece of St. Blaise’s foot lives in a foot-shaped reliquary in France, and another in Dubrovnik.

Like Januarius, no one really knows anything about St. Blaise, and even the dates of his birth and death are a mystery. He is said to have been knocking about in the 4th century, and to have been a bishop in Armenia who was executed by the nasty Romans. The story goes that he hid in a cave during the persecution of Christians, and healed sick people and animals who visited him. He was eventually discovered by hunters, presented to the local prefect, Agricola, and had his flesh torn off with hot iron combs, which unsurprisingly proved fatal.

All saints have a particular strength in miracles, and St Blaise is often prayed to for help with throat ailments, sick animals, or skin conditions, due to the miracles he performed whilst alive and his grisly death. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about his feet, but strangely there are two pieces of them in Europe that are particularly venerated. The one in France (above) lives in an ornate foot-shaped reliquary, and the one in Dubrovnik, where he is especially popular, lives in a similar container. Appropriately enough, the latter is carried through the streets every year… on foot.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The Skull of John Chrysostom, Mount Athos, Greece. WordPress

10. Either St John Chrysostom had four heads, or at least three people are lying…

John Chrysostom (347-407) was originally a hermit, but his self-inflicted living conditions and diet were so appalling that he nearly died. Forced to change career, John made the most of his new, healthier lifestyle to throw himself into preaching, writing theological tracts, and helping the sick and needy. He was so popular in Antioch that when he was elected Archbishop of Constantinople he had to be snuck out of the city under the cover of night, in fear of rioting. Political machinations saw him exiled, however, and he died whilst on a forced march to Pontus in bad weather.

In the West, John is revered as one of the Four Great Doctors, along with Athanasius, Basil, and Gregory Nazianzus, for his great learning. What, therefore, could be a better relic of the great scholar than his very head? Crusaders pinched his skull and other relics from Constantinople in 1204, and brought them to Rome, but here things get murky. One skull, after all, looks a lot like another, and so there are no fewer than four skulls on display as the genuine head of John Chrysostom: two in Tuscany, one in Russia, and the other in Greece.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
A piece of the tissue surrounding Philip Neri’s massive heart, Rome. Blogspot

9. Tissue surrounding the gigantic heart of St Philip Neri was removed and is still on display today.

While some saints have a definitive plan for life and moment of conversion, the Florentine saint Philip Neri (1515-95) flip-flopped for some time before deciding to become a priest. After brief flirtations with tutoring and business, he decided that preaching to the wicked was the right thing for him after all, and he began harassing bankers and the like in his hometown about their behaviour. He seems to have made the right call, for in 1544 he had an ecstatic vision in which a globe of fire entered his mouth and swelled his heart to an enormous size.

Don’t believe him? Well, an autopsy after his death in 1595 proved that he had a whopping great heart in his chest. Vision aside, he had a reputation as a lovely man, who stayed in good humour despite the depressing nature of his work shouting at feckless bankers and helping the miserably destitute, so it was no surprise to anyone that his heart was as literally massive as it was metaphorically. Two of his ribs were found to be broken, and a protective layer of tissue had developed, to accommodate it. This containing tissue was removed and carefully preserved. Yuck.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The (in)famous Turin Shroud, housed in Piedmont, Italy. Alitalia Discover Italy

8. The Turin Shroud is thought to be the imprint of the dead and mutilated Christ.

By far, the most famous relic in the world, the Turin Shroud is a linen cloth bearing the faint trace of a man with what appear to be crucifixion wounds. You may be wondering why it’s made an appearance on this list, but think about it for a second. If the rumours are true, the Turin Shroud is the imprint of a man who was flogged, nailed to a cross, and left to sweat and bleed under a searing desert sun, before being dumped in a cave. In other words, it’s the imprint of a dead guy’s bodily juices.

Noting this is in no way sacrilegious (apart from calling it gross): Christ, after all, was both fully man and fully God according to the Nicene Creed. Moreover, the Turin Shroud was exposed as a shabby fake over 30 years ago. Radiocarbon tests on the shroud in 1988 dated it to between 1260 and 1390 AD and, far from being evidence of a later miracle, it’s not even anatomically correct. Maybe God’s just playing a trick on us all, but try telling that to the 2.5 million people who went to see it in 2010.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The preserved body of Hyacinth of Caesarea, Bavaria. Wikimedia Commons

7. The whole of Hyacinth of Caesarea is on display in Germany, covered in jewels

A fingernail or a piece of a saint’s bone is all well and good, but surely you can’t beat the entire thing. Hyacinth of Caesarea was another obscure martyr from an unknown date of early Christianity, killed by the Romans for his (yes, Hyacinth was a boy’s name back then) faith. Though we know precious little about him today, Hyacinth’s name appears in a list of martyrs from the 4th century, which suggests that he was once both important and popular. He was most revered as a saint in Italy, where the later, unsubstantiated legends about him developed.

Hyacinth’s skeleton arrived at the Church of the Assumption in Fürstenfeldbruck, near Munich at an unknown date. The church was originally part of a Cistercian Abbey, but this was sacked by the Swedish army in the mid 17th century. The abbey church was rebuilt in its present, over-the-top Baroque style in the late 18th century, and this backdrop provides an appropriate setting for Hyacinth’s remains. For rather than leave the skeleton as a simple but effective memento mori, it was covered with thousands of jewels and posed in a glass coffin, rather like a cursed king from Indiana Jones.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
Don Bosco’s brain in its reliquary, near Turin, Italy. Washington Post

6. Don Bosco’s brain is a relic, and is so popular that it was stolen in 2017.

After rising from his humble, impoverished upbringing to become a priest, Don Bosco (1815-88) devoted his life to the pastoral care of young men who, like him, came from deprived households. As well as preaching to them, Bosco founded the Salesian Order, setting up training schemes so his young charges could go on to have remunerative careers as craftsmen. Running a home for 500 boys, and taking them on fun excursions to the countryside, a lot of people had a lot to thank Don Bosco for. Indeed, 40, 000 people visited his body when it lay in state.

An estimated 600, 000 people visit his relics every year near Turin. These relics, unbelievably, include part of his brain, but sadly there is little information on how, or why, it was removed and preserved. Either way, it’s been on display for decades, apart from when it was stolen in 2017. As millions prayed for its safe return, Italian police resorted to CSI to find the holy cerebellum, and between them they succeeded in recovering it. Carabinieri found the reliquary containing the brain-piece in a copper kettle in the thief’s kitchen. It hadn’t been opened, you’ll be relieved to hear.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
Elizabeth of Thuringia by Francisco de Zurbarán, Madrid, c.1635-40. Wikimedia Commons

5. The nipples of Elizabeth of Thuringia were hacked off as relics in the 13th century.

Elizabeth of Thuringia (1207-31) was a radiant Hungarian princess. Happily married with three lovely children, if she had a fault it was her unceasing generosity to the poor. But when her equally pious husband, Louis IV of Thuringia, died on Crusade, her life was turned upside down: refusing to marry again, she fell under the spell of her brutal and zealous confessor, Conrad of Marburg. Conrad reorganised Elizabeth’s life to make it one so miserable and austere that her own servants would beat her for indiscretions. Sadly, she died aged just 24, as daily beatings and near-starvation took their toll.

But Elizabeth’s generosity, personal ministration to the poor, and pathetic death all made her a popular figure in her native Hungary and beyond. Within hours of her death, mobs of Catholics were banging at the mausoleum’s doors, wanting to touch her body for cures and blessings. Soon pilgrims flocked from far and wide, and began to mutilate her barely-dead body for relics. Locks of hair and fingernails were torn off, but the devastation did not stop there: someone even cut off her nipples, and took them away as relics. Seeing Elizabeth’s nipples, thus, became an incongruous goal for many pilgrims.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
Jesus, in diaper… The Adoration of the Magi by Albrecht Dürer, Wittenberg, 1504. Wikimedia Commons

4. Jesus’s diapers can be seen in Dubrovnik and Aachen

He may only have lived for 33 years, and very humbly, but that was plenty of time for Jesus to have touched a lot of things and owned a few bits and pieces. We’ve already seen his foreskin and death-shroud on this list, but what of the Son of God’s possessions? Well, no toys are recorded, but at some stage in history someone had the ingenious idea for another relic: his diapers. Depictions of the baby Jesus often show him naked but, logically, there must have been some sanitary measures in ancient Nazareth…

Christ’s diapers are now on display in reliquaries at Dubrovnik and Aachen. Although they are termed ‘swaddling clothes’ at the latter, information boards at Dubrovnik Cathedral describe its version as a ‘diaper’. Although ‘swaddling clothes’ sounds more hygienic, these were still wrapped around naked infants, and you don’t have to be a parent to work out what that means. But since these diapers/ swaddling clothes touched Jesus and were worn by him, they are First-Class Relics (the most holy kind) in Catholic belief. Still, it’s funny to think that these beautiful cases contain a dirty old nappy…

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The head of Oliver Plunkett, Drogheda, Ireland. Atlas Obscura

3. Oliver Plunkett was hanged, drawn, and quartered in 1681, and someone made off with his head.

Although we’ve already had two heads (five if you count all of John Chrysostom’s), the head of Oliver Plunkett (1629-81) could not be left off this list for the simple reason that it’s absolutely hideous. Plunkett was Archbishop of Armagh in Ireland, a country recently ravaged by the wicked Puritan Oliver Cromwell. There were also serious divisions within both the Irish church and Catholicism generally about devotional practices. Extremely popular in Ireland nonetheless, Plunkett was falsely accused by Titus ‘Titus the Liar’ Oates of plotting to kill the king of England as part of the fictional Popish Plot.

Plunkett was taken to London to stand trial, as the authorities feared a strong backlash from his Irish supporters at home. He was found guilty, and hanged, drawn, and quartered for high treason. His body-parts were buried at London’s Saint-Giles-in-the-Fields Church, but devoted Catholics dug them up as ready-made relics, and packed them off around Europe. Plunkett’s theatrically-despondent head was first sent to Rome, and returned to Ireland after a brief stint in the Holy City. It’s been at a church in Drogheda, Ireland, since 1929, where it attracts pilgrims and intrigued tourists alike to this day.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The Veil of Veronica depicted by Hans Memling, Flanders, c.1470. Wikimedia Commons

2. The Veil of Veronica is a hanky with the imprint of Jesus’s face on it.

The crowds jeered at the fallen messiah. The thin, beaten, and bloodied frame of Jesus strained and fell under the weight of the great beams of wood upon his aching back, as he carried his cross to Golgotha. Only one person among the throng was brave enough to help the poor man (according to apocrypha and legend). Her name was Veronica, and she wiped Christ’s exhausted face with a cloth when he fell. His face miraculously appeared on the handkerchief, which has been a coveted and semi-legendary relic ever since. So coveted, in fact, that there are several.

Despite the lack of canonical authority for the tale, the myth of Veronica’s hanky thrived as theologians puzzled over her identity. The earliest record of a Veil is at St Peter’s in Rome, which has had one since the 8th century. It is not on display. But why is this miraculous item on this list? Well, think of the Latin name for the veil, Sudarium. The noun means simply ‘sweat-cloth’, and the relic (if it is real) is, indeed, a piece of cloth with 2, 000-year-old sweat on it. That’s gross, no matter how much it looks like Jesus.

The World’s Grossest Catholic Relics
The Martyrdom of St Agatha, Sicily, 1520. Wikimedia Commons

1. When St Agatha’s breasts were ripped off with pincers, her devotees kept them as relics.

So, here we come to the final item on our list, and one of the most bizarre. Another very early Christian martyr, Agatha was a virgin who died at Catania, Sicily. Like many Christians of the first few centuries AD, she was executed for her faith. But her mode of death, according to later legend, was especially macabre. When the Roman consul Quintinian failed to seduce her, he roasted Agatha over a hot fire and then ripped her breasts off with red-hot pincers for good measure. They miraculously grew back, but she died of her injuries nonetheless.

Like Oliver Plunkett’s head, Agatha’s dismembered breasts were a ready-made relic. They were swiped away when the torturers weren’t watching, and instantly venerated. The saint’s mammaries are now lost, but it’s easy to understand how so many pairs were knocking about in the Middle Ages. All you had to do was hack a pair off a dead body and sell them to foolish (or enterprising) churchmen as Agatha’s. Though her alleged-breasts are long-gone, Sicilians commemorate Agatha by baking mine di Sant’ Agata [literally, ‘St Agatha’s breasts’], sweet cakes in the shape of breasts with a glacé cherry as a nipple.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Bagnoli, Martina. Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe. London: British Museum Press, 2010.

Borrini, Matteo, and Luigi Garlaschelli. “A BPA Approach to the Shroud of Turin.” Journal of Forensic Sciences 64, no. 1 (January 2019): 137-43.

Butler, Alban. Lives of the Saints. London: Studio Editions, 1990.

Caviness, Madeline Harrison. Visualizing Women in the Middle Ages: Sight, Spectacle, and Scopic Economy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000.

Farmer, David Hugh. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Freeman, Charles. Holy Bones, Holy Dust: How Relics Shaped the History of Medieval Europe. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.

Friedman, David M. A Mind of its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis. London: Robert Hale, 2009.

Robinson, James. Finer than Gold: Saints and Relics in the Middle Ages. London: British Museum Press, 2011.

Vogt, Andrea. “Stolen Brain of St John Bosco Found in Kettle’. The Daily Telegraph, June 16, 2017.

de Voragine, Jacobus. The Golden Legend, trans. by William Caxton. London: Dent, 1993.

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