Monday, 5 November 2012
John the Baptist's silk pyjamas
All this talk of Kwan Yin has put me in mind of Holy Relics.
I am certainly not a religious person, but I absolutely love all those old relics that you find in the crypts of Catholic, Italian churches - pieces of fingernail from a long-dead saint, mounted on gold stalks set in purple velvet cushions, encased in solid gold boxes with windows made from the purest rock-crystal available at the time.
In the Topkapi museum in Istanbul, there is a whole room devoted to them, and the arm of John the Baptist can be spotted grinning through an encasement of solid gold, in a bullet-proof cabinet next to a pair of a sultan's silk pyjamas.
In another room, there are various glass cabinets with artifacts associated with Moslem saints, and there is at least one crystal box with a gold stalk within, topped with a single black hair, reputedly plucked from the beard of the Prophet Mohammed himself.
If you put together all the fragments of the 'True Cross' whittled from Christ's implement of execution sometime around the Middle Ages, there would be enough to build a ship, but maybe one of them could be a chip off the old block.
This is why they dropped Osama Bin Laden out at sea, rather than let him be pulled to pieces - bit by bit - and distributed amongst the faithful so that shrines could be set up in his honour.
It's always an odd feeling to be the closest person in the world to the mortal remains of a famous or holy person, but to actually own a little piece of them is privilege indeed...
A friend of mine was sent to a palace to remove the bidet from Diana, Princess of Wales private apartment when she was still alive, and when he got the porcelain home, he found a single pubic hair hidden within it.
He put the hair in a locket, then went around showing it to people, stating it's provenance. When he showed it to me, I reminded him that he could be walking around with one of Will Carling's pubes dangling round his neck, and he lost it shortly afterwards.
Posted by Tom Stephenson at 01:43