What a weirdly fascinating article, on the history of that most holy relic, Jesus’s prepuce. It also, by the way, includes the very best explanation for the prolific numbers of body parts of dead saints and prophets.
Once brought to light, the Holy Prepuce reproduced itself at a rapid rate. In a few hundred years, dozens of churches, including Saint John Lateran in Rome (the seat of the Pope) claimed to own a piece or all of the Holy Prepuce. Some suggested that there were so many different Holy Prepuces because it could, like the fish and loaves, multiply to feed hungry pilgrims.
But of course! If you believe in multitudes being fed with a few loaves and fishes, then it is no problem at all imagining that fragments of corpses are replicating. Fingerbones, shinbones, toenail clippings, whole skulls, and obviously, bits of penises, all slithering together at night in the dark corners of cathedrals, briefly writhing and clattering together, and then, voila, spawning a new relic. I imagine it also gives those immortal dead saints a little bit of an erotic outlet. You can’t blame them.
As long as they leave me out of it. Old Catholic mystics seem to have been more than a little pervy, with kinks I never even imagined before. Here’s Catherine of Siena, engaged in a little imaginary sexy vision game with Jesus.
“My beloved,” [Christ said], “you have now gone through many struggles for my sake. . . . Previously you had renounced all that the body takes pleasure in. . . . But yesterday the intensity of your ardent love for me overcame even the instinctive reflexes of your body itself: you forced yourself to swallow without a qualm a drink from which nature recoiled in disgust [i.e., pus from the putrefying breast of a dying woman]. . . . As you then went far beyond what mere human nature could ever have achieved, so I today shall give you a drink that transcends in perfection any that human nature can provide. . . .” With that, he tenderly placed his right hand on her neck, and drew her toward the wound in his side. “Drink, daughter, from my side,” he said, “and by that draught your soul shall become enraptured with such delight that your very body, which for my sake you have denied, shall be inundated with its overflowing goodness.” Drawn close . . . to the outlet of the Fountain of Life, she fastened her lips upon that sacred wound, and still more eagerly the mouth of her soul, and there she slaked her thirst.
All right, all right, I know, consenting adults and all that. You can do all the pus-drinking and wound-sucking you want in the privacy of your church. But you should know that all the sexual behaviors you currently condemn are looking pretty damned sane and healthy in comparison right now.