Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Book on Prepuce at the Precipice

The details of the mysteries of the carne vera sacra have now been unsheathed.

Those expecting cooking news about a nuova cucina Italian delicacy will be disappointed. We’re talking foreskin here, and not just any foreskin but THE foreskin of the ages – the “miraculous membrane” of Jesus Christ.

As discussed in a piece in The New Yorker, travel writer David Farley has published his first book, An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church’s Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town. Within, he relates that the foreskin of Jesus Christ went missing from a church in the village of Calcata, a medieval fortress town on four hundred and fifty foot cliffs thirty miles north of Rome inhabited by artists and hippies since 1983.

This is the “true holy foreskin” (carne vera sacra - "true holy meat"), not to be confused with the pretenders, the faux foreskins. As Farley declares in the article, “a French village called Charroux—which had been famous in the Middle Ages for having a supposed Holy Foreskin—announced they’d rediscovered their miraculous membrane hidden in one of the walls inside the abbey. A big deal was made of it and the Protestant press attacked the Church. It didn’t help that yet another French village, which was also linked to a Holy Foreskin in the Middle Ages, announced in the nineteenth century that theirs, too, had been rediscovered. So, I think, Pope Leo XIII, who was staunchly anti-modernity, just wanted to put the whole issue to bed. He eventually made a decree threatening excommunication to anyone who spoke of or wrote about the Holy Foreskin.”

We shall never speak of it again.

But wait. Who can resist dwelling upon the existence of three Holy Foreskins. There can, of course, only be one “true” prepuce. How many times can a man – even the son of God - be circumcised before what’s left over is inadequate to its intended task?

This is the ultimate slice of life story.

By the way, Farely reveals the existence of another holy relic. Sit down for this. The breast of Mary Magdelene awaits your veneration, preserved and displayed, presumably, in the holy brassiere.

Those who find that these weird holy relics don’t have the requisite mojo to inspire faith and require something with a little more drama may kneel before yet another item from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not warehouse of religious talismans. The severed head of John the Baptist is available for concelebration if not consultation.

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