Friday, April 19, 2019

Easter Relics in the News

The perfect Easter Story timing:  The Crown of Thorns in residence at Notre Dame has been saved.  There are many press stories showing this beautifully gilded artifact - the "supposed and purported" original crown, considered priceless.  

The origins of the crown can be traced to texts dating back to about AD 530 that claim the crown was on show in the "Basilica of Mount Zion" — a hill in Jerusalem just outside the walls of the Old City — where it was believed to have been venerated for some time. 

Move on to the 1500's, with so many relics and so much veneration that  John Calvin, key figure in the Protestant Reformation published his Treatise on Relics in 1543.  He argued the veneration of relics had become idolatry. He pointed out there was no mention of the keeping of the relics of Christ or anyone else in the earliest church writings. The opposite was the case - a deliberate avoidance of these as they were considered idolatry.  

So on to more current authorities.  Professor Euan Cameron writes:

"Then there was the problem that so many relics existed in multiple versions across Europe:  one saint might have up to four full bodies dispersed in various places, besides body parts dispersed here and there."
And what about the relic itself - what is the  authenticity of the plant.  The speculation is that the original band of reeds ws held together by a thorny vine.  Wikipedia says that the bush the thorns came from is Ziziphus spina-christi, more popularly, the jujube tree.  The thorns were removed from the crown and kept in separate reliquaries.  The oldest known Ziziphus is located south of Jerusalem and is estimated to be about 2000 years old, just about the right age to be the 'very tree'. So it too is venerated.

This is a mere snippet of the long story of the Crown of Thorns.  Tomorrow we'll visit the current Easter story:  Where it's all about the bunny and not about the lamb.

Isn't this a beautiful display at the Niagara Falls Greenhouses?  This picture was taken a few years ago.


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