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What Remains?: The Gory and Gruesome History of the Medieval Cult of Relics
In medieval Europe, relics of dead martyrs were the ultimate must-have, venerated by princes and paupers alike. And the associated market for them was big business; a huge industry with an infrastructure to match. Crumbling bone, ravaged human hair, withering chunks of flesh, and the blood-soaked garb of martyrs, apostles and holy family were considered to have the greatest power—with, year upon year, faithful pilgrims flocking to parish churches and cathedrals in droves to visit the most powerful relics, in the hopes of their healing power or a miracle. Even those considered “fakes” could become “real” if they suddenly performed. And so many have a rather gruesome history.
Here, Dr Emma J Wells delves into the black market for holy heirlooms…