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Jan 27 2014

Psst! Want some pope blood?

What can you say about this news report that a vial of Pope John Paul II’s blood has been stolen from a village church?

A vial containing the blood of the late Pope John Paul II was stolen from a village church in a mountainous area east of Rome, sparking a regionwide manhunt that includes more than 50 police and a team of dogs specialized in tracking.

In 2011, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul’s former secretary who is now the archbishop of Krakow in Poland, gave the community near the church the vial of blood as a gesture to commemorate the former pope’s connection with the area. The blood was first set aside in 1981, after an attempt on John Paul’s life in St. Peter’s Square.

What is more grotesque than stealing the blood is that the blood was being kept at all. The thieves’ reasoning at least may be somewhat rational because apparently “Once John Paul is elevated to sainthood, artifacts from his life will increase in value.” In other words, they may be hoping to make a killing (har!).

This raises the question of why the blood was taken from him at all back in 1981. Do they routinely collect and keep and distribute papal blood? Or only if the betting is good that he will later be made a saint? Also was it taken only when he was close to death, like in 1981, or also near the end of his life when he had decided that he did not want extraordinary life-saving measures?

The whole thing is a more than a little macabre but it is of a pattern with the Catholic obsession with possessing the body parts and possessions of saints, referred to as relics, thinking that they have miraculous powers.

25 comments

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  1. 1
    Chiroptera

    What can you say about this news report that a vial of Pope John Paul II’s blood has been stolen from a village church?

    Uh, er….,

    I got nothin’.

  2. 2
    Randomfactor

    The right-wingers are going to create a hybrid clone with JP^2′s charisma and Palpatine’s unquenchable evil. It’ll be unstoppable!

  3. 3
    richardelguru

    Honesty has never been the best policy where relics are concerned
    As quoth Dan Chaucer:
    A vernycle hadde he sowed upon his cappe.
    His walet lay biforn hym in his lappe
    Bretful of pardoun come from Rome al hoot.
    A voys he hadde as smal as hath a goot,
    No berd hadde he, ne nevere sholde have;
    As smothe it was as it were late shave,
    I trowe he were a geldyng or a mare.
    But of his craft, from Berwyk into Ware,
    Ne was ther swich another pardoner;
    For in his male he hadde a pilwe-beer,
    Which that he seyde was Oure Lady veyl:
    He seyde he hadde a gobet of the seyl
    That Seint Peter hadde, whan that he wente
    Upon the see, til Jesu Crist hym hente.
    He hadde a croys of latoun ful of stones,
    And in a glas he hadde pigges bones.
    But with thise relikes, whan that he fond
    A povre persoun dwellyng upon lond,
    Upon a day he gat hym moore moneye
    Than that the person gat in monthes tweye;
    And thus, with feyned flaterye and japes,
    He made the persoun and the peple his apes.

  4. 4
    richardelguru

    Oh and for the ME challenged

    He had a fine veronica sewed to cap.
    His wallet lay before him in his lap,
    Stuffed full of pardons brought from Rome all hot.
    A voice he had that bleated like a goat.
    No beard had he, nor ever should he have,
    For smooth his face as he’d just had a shave;
    I think he was a gelding or a mare.
    But in his craft, from Berwick unto Ware,
    Was no such pardoner in any place.
    For in his bag he had a pillowcase
    The which, he said, was Our True Lady’s veil:
    He said he had a piece of the very sail
    That good Saint Peter had, what time he went
    Upon the sea, till Jesus changed his bent.
    He had a latten cross set full of stones,
    And in a bottle had he some pig’s bones.
    But with these relics, when he came upon
    Some simple parson, then this paragon
    In that one day more money stood to gain
    Than the poor dupe in two months could attain.
    And thus, with flattery and suchlike japes,
    He made the parson and the rest his apes.

  5. 5
    doublereed

    Wait, if you drink a pope’s blood, DO YOU BECOME A POPE???!!!

  6. 6
    Marcus Ranum

    Someone is planning on animating an invicible pope golem. Europe is doomed!

  7. 7
    Nick Gotts

    The thieves’ reasoning at least may be somewhat rational because apparently “Once John Paul is elevated to sainthood, artifacts from his life will increase in value.”

    Suppose the thieves want to sell it, how will they prove it’s genuine Pope’s blood? There would need to be a DNA match with a known sample from JPII – but then, how would anyone who wants to buy some Pope’s blood get hold of such a sample to carry out the test? So maybe there’ll be a ransom demand, posted along with a smidgen of the blood to allow testing? Or maybe it was stolen by Satanists, for use in a Black Mass? But then if Satan actually turned up, he might be most annoyed that his faithful follower’s blood had been so misused.

    Truly, the mind boggles.

  8. 8
    Nathaniel Frein

    I wonder, with this sample missing, if the intent isn’t to make money off of counterfeits? Since there’d be no way for a prospective buyer to verify the authenticity without putting themselves at risk…

    Idle conjecture. I have no idea how black markets for this kind of stuff works outside of the TeeVee show “White Collar”.

  9. 9
    Rob Grigjanis

    There are probably enough pieces of The True Cross around to build an ark.

  10. 10
    Al Dente

    This raises the question of why the blood was taken from him at all back in 1981.

    I suspect a tube of JPII’s blood was taken so if another assassination attempt was made and he was wounded, they’d be able to crossmatch his blood for a transfusion.

  11. 11
    enkidu

    Why do they assume it has been stolen? I would assume that they would have assumed it had been assumed.

  12. 12
    Marcus Ranum

    I suspect a tube of JPII’s blood was taken so if another assassination attempt was made and he was wounded, they’d be able to crossmatch his blood for a transfusion.

    Are you kidding? It’s so they can produce an invincible army of clone-pontiffs!!

  13. 13
    moarscienceplz

    Uh oh! We’ll have to watch out for The Boys from Brazil Poland!

  14. 14
    Daniel Schealler

    The obsession with the body parts of saints always struck me as being essentially the same as the kind of macabre black magic rituals that call for certain body parts of humans and animals – eye of newt, the fat of a flame haired man, etc.

  15. 15
    michaelbusch

    The whole thing is a more than a little macabre but it is of a pattern with the Catholic obsession with possessing the body parts and possessions of saints, referred to as relics, thinking that they have miraculous powers.

    This isn’t limited to Catholics, or to saints. For example: if you go to Florence, you can visit the Museo Galileo. In addition to an extensive history-of-science collection, they have the thumb, index, and middle finger of Galileo’s right hand on display. These were removed from Galileo’s body when it was exhumed in 1737 to be placed in a permanent tomb. In 1905, the jar holding the thumb and index disappeared, in uncertain circumstances. Around 2008, it appeared at an auction, where somebody bought it and returned it and its contents to the museum (which authenticated them by examination and DNA comparison with the middle finger, which it still had). e.g. http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/11/23/galileo.fingers/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

    So there are indeed auctions where people sell human body parts.

  16. 16
    Frank

    @4 richard

    I wouldn’t claim that I understand all of the words in the ME version, but as poetry, it sounds so much better when read aloud. And one can easily get the gist of it without a detailed knowledge of ME.

  17. 17
    markr1957

    @ richardelguru – you just reminded me of my O level English Lit, studying A Nun’s Priest’s Tale in ME – from 40 years ago. Thank you :)

  18. 18
    Vicki

    Fraunces Tavern Museum, in New York City, displays assorted relics of President Washington, including his false teeth and, IIRC, some hair. Definitely in a cult-of-personality direction. (I was there because well, when you live in New York, if your out-of-town visitors want to see obscure museums and such, why not, at least it’s something new.)

  19. 19
    Nick Gotts

    I’m not alone in speculating about Satanic involvement!

  20. 20
    jamessweet

    The thieves are probably hoping to splash some of it on themselves and transform into Pope Cop.

    http://axecop.com/comic/episode-1/

  21. 21
    Nick Gotts

    assorted relics of President Washington, including his false teeth – Vicki@18

    Do the false teeth start chattering when the constitution is violanted ;-)

  22. 22
    Pierce R. Butler

    What effect would papal blood have on vampires?

  23. 23
    Daniel Schealler

    @Pierce R Butler
    If you drain the blood from a vampire and feed them Pope’s blood it will turn them turn into a Cardinal.

  24. 24
    Pierce R. Butler

    Daniel Schealler @ # 23: … it will turn them turn into a Cardinal.

    And that would be a Sin.

    As for the cosmic crisis at hand – if we survive, we will never know the full story. Rest assured that the Lamestream Media™ are covering up Bondian-level mayhem even as we type.

    One day, Dan Brown will write this up, in a code so cunning all the president’s cryptographers will never even see it. The movie will be awesome!

  25. 25
    Daniel Schealler

    Actually, now you mention it I think that they already made that movie in 2007.

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