Basilica of the Holy Blood


I know there are rules. I don’t know exactly what they are.img_2090

I have been told that every Roman Catholic church has a relic of a saint in it somewhere. No need to go into great details, you can look it up if you like. I would think, as the number of churches grow, that there might be a relic shortage. Although, there are three different classes of relics and I guess there are ways to increase the supply as necessary. Not to mention that there are probably plenty of relics for modern saints.img_2103

In Bruges, Belgium, there is a church, the Basilica of the Holy Blood, with the ultimate “relic” – though I don’t buy it as being real. It’s a phial containing a sample of Jesus’ blood. I am sure that brings in the tourists, though there weren’t many people when I was there a few years back. Maybe they were waiting for Ascension Day, when the phial is paraded through the town. And Ottawa thought we were privileged last month when we had a parade with the Grey Cup!img_2095

Call me a cynic, but I doubt anyone present at Jesus’ crucifixion was taking blood samples. Or that they were taken later, no matter what tradition says. Scripture doesn’t mention it, and I don’t think preserving blood was part of first century Jewish culture. But a lot of people believe this is the real deal.

That has me wondering about our makeup as humans. What is it about us that we have such a need to believe that we add to the facts? Why do some people need some physical evidence of distinctly dubious provenance to draw us closer to God?img_2099

If you look at the scriptural accounts, they should be enough. That is assuming you examine the context and history of the scriptures. If you believe Napoleon lost to Wellington at Waterloo, then you should believe Jesus was born in Bethlehem. If you accept that Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, you should believe in the historicity of Christ’s resurrection.

There is no-one alive who was there at those historic events, but we do have eyewitness accounts. There is no valid reason to automatically reject one set of witnesses and not the other. Many people do though, choosing what they believe according to their desires and not the facts as presented.

Maybe that’s why Catholic churches need relics. History is insufficient for so many people. They crave something more, no matter how unlikely. Mind you, most Catholic churches can’t claim anything as exceptional as Jesus’ blood.

I understand the phial hasn’t been opened in the almost a millennia it has been in this church. I wonder what DNA testing would show?


One comment

  1. Something arguably more fantastic, that cannot be measured by man’s scientific knowledge, is the epiclesis, wherein the ‘gifts of human hands’ become the body and blood of Christ during the Roman Catholic Liturgy of the Eucharist. Logical minds may scoff at this. However, it works for Catholics who simply accept the teachings in their quest for spirituality. Lord of the Rings was written by a Catholic, a book wherein a lifetime of peace as hobbits in the Shire was idealized as the norm. One can question ancient claims with current science, and some question so much that they are atheists. That being said, questioning applies current knowledge, and current knowledge cannot explain everything. I’m still amazed, for example, at how close our DNA is to that of great apes, but we have so many more successes: internal combustion, flight, healthcare, agriculture, Justin Bieber’s latest…well most things are better…

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