Any old relics?

Updated 9:30AM, Friday July 27th, 2012 by Simon Cross, Be the first to comment! seperator

We may not have the bones of John the Baptist, but from the Grail to a thorn from the Crucifixion crown, the Uk and Ireland certainly arent devoid of remarkable relics or legends.

British relics: we may not have the bones of John the Baptist, but from the Grail to a thorn from the Crucifixion crown, various claims have been made about what might be found on our shores – read more here.

Glastonbury Abbey, in a photo taken in the 19th Century

Glastonbury – Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail

Without doubt the most famous relic of them all, the subject of innumerable conspiracy theories and the star of oodles of stories, the Holy Grail, or the cup from which Jesus drank at the last supper, has become the stuff of dreams for treasure hunters  around the world.

But one legend has it here in the UK, brought to Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea, he who buried Jesus. Joseph is said by some to have founded Glastonbury abbey, back in the earliest days of Christianity, and rumour has it that the Grail may have been hidden there too… then again, King Arthur is also said to be there, and nobody’s quite sure where Lord Lucan ended up either.

Stonyhurst College, Lancashire – Thorn from the crucifixion crown

The Crown of Thorns is another iconic piece of Christian history, graphically depicted in countless pieces of art. The thorn which resides at Stonyhurst college has a long and distinguished history, having apparently been taken from the original Crown of Thorns hundreds of years ago.

Legend has it that the Crown was seized from Constantinople during the crusades, and later sold to King Louis IX of France who broke it up to give pieces away as gifts. The Stonyhurst thorn was given to Mary Queen of Scots, and following her execution it passed to a servant, until eventually being given to the Jesuit order in 1600. It has lived at the public school, where it is brought out each year in Holy week, for the last 200 years.

Caistor, Lincolnshire –Site of the execution of Simon the Zealot

Simon the Zealot, one of the more obscure of Jesus’ disciples has had many grisly deaths attributed to him, only one of them is of interest to us in this instance though – the legend that he was put to death in Caistor, Lincolnshire, by the Romans.

Apparently Caistor town council doesn’t hold records of executions dating back to the first centuries, so even a Freedom of Information act request won’t help us much. Sadly  too the inconsiderate Roman authorities didn’t leave any memorials or even so much as  a grave stone for us to visit. You can get a decent cup of tea in the town though.

St Cuthbert, the much loved Lindisfarne Saint

Unknown – The stolen Heat of St Laurence O’Toole

It used to reside in Dublin’s Christ Church Cathedral, but in March of this year a burglar cut through iron bars to steal the preserved heart of Dublin’s patron saint which was being kept safely in a wooden ‘heart shaped box’.

Now its location is unknown, and some are even linking the theft with the disappearance of other religious artefacts in Ireland. Whoever took the 1000 year-old heart deliberately ignored the more financially valuable artefacts also on display in the cathedral, in favour of the heart. The theft followed a previous attempt to take the Jaw bone of St Bridget of Kildare from another Dublin church. This attempt was only foiled because the bone wasn’t in its usual reliquary.

British Library, London - The Lindisfarne Gospels

Thought by some to represent the essence of indigenous British Christianity, The Lindisfarne Gospels are a set of illuminated manuscripts which were created by the monks of Lindisfarne (Holy Island) off the coast of Northumberland, in the seventh or eighth century.

Having escaped destruction at the hand of rampaging viking invaders and various skirmishes over the course of their life - the Gospels now reside in the tranquil environs of the British Library, where Vikings dare not shout - never mind pillage. Thought to be the work of a monk called Eadfrith, and created in the honour of St Cuthbert, the Gospels even now are stunning to look at, and represent a fantastic example of devotion in action.



This article was written and published by Simon Cross for


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