Sunday, May 03, 2009

snippet of history

Ti: An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church's Strangest Relic in Italy's Oddest Town
(ARC ed; HC pub Jul 2009)
Au: David Farley

Author Farley, who writes for travel pieces for mags and somehow manages to use that to support living abroad for periods of time (don't we all wish), becomes focused on trying to find out what happened to a vanished Catholic relic - the foreskin of Jesus Christ. Yup. The only piece of Christ's flesh that could have reasonably been left behind on earth when he ascended after the resurrection, and the Church had it (and for a while, had like 10 or more of them in different locations around medieval Europe), but then they lost it, or so the story goes.

Farley settles into a really eclectic Italian village where the recognized true foreskin had been in residence until 1986 when it was supposedly stolen by two mysterious villagers, or reclaimed by the Vatican, or sold by the priest, or hidden away because the Church wanted to downplay such items. The fate of the foreskin depended on which tipsy, hippy-dippy, obsessed or skittish resident Farley asked in this nutty town, known for having a lot of "outsiders" from other parts of Italy and the world living there. It would seem that if you move more than 50 miles in Italy, you are an outsider to the residents of whatever town you land in. The Church, as one might expect, had nothing much to say.

I liked the book. It was light, entertaining, and gave some good history about the Church (while not Catholic myself, I have to concede that until my ancestors protested against it [and in some cases against both the Catholics AND Martin Luther, boy were they lonely] Catholic history covers a huge part of all Christian history), and gave fun descriptions of eccentric people and nifty places I can probably never hope to see. And that's what travel writing should, yeah? Not high lit or anything, but it gets the job done.

(for those of you who may know who this is, I will be forwarding this to soon-to-be-Dr. Ms. C. Kovacs - just seems like it's up her alley :-)

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posted by ~e at 11:10 AM


Blogger reyn said...

Let me get this straight: Christ had eleven or more foreskins??

I don't know whether to be terrified or hopelessly impressed.

5/04/2009 4:12 PM  

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