Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses

בֿ Format Kindle ᅭ Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses  ᐉ Kindle Ebook By Bess Lovejoy ᓫ בֿ Format Kindle ᅭ Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses ᐉ Kindle Ebook By Bess Lovejoy ᓫ Rest in Pieces LIVED FIRST HALF OF FOURTH CENTURY AD BORN PATARA, LYCIA DIED MYRA, LYCIA Dont tell the kids, but Santa Claus has been dead for than sixteen hundred years No, his body is not at the North Pole, and hes not buried with Mrs Claus In fact, his remains are thousands of miles away, on Italys sunny Adriatic coast And while Santa might be enjoying his Mediterranean vacation, hes probably not too happy about what happened to his remains They were stolen in the eleventh century, and people have been fighting over them ever since Of course, the Santa Claus of folklore doesnt have a skeleton But his inspiration, Saint Nicholas, does Thats about all we can say for sure about Nicholas he was a bishop who lived and died in what is now Turkey in the first half of the fourth century Legend tells us that he was born into a rich family and delighted in giving gifts Once, he threw three bags of gold into the window of a poor familys house, saving the three daughters who lived there from a life of prostitution Another time, he raised three children from the dead after a butcher carved them up and stored them in a vat of brine He also protected sailors, who were said to cry out his name in rough seas, then watch the waves mysteriously smooth The sailors spread Nicholass cult around the world Within a century of his death, the bishop was worshipped as a saint, lending his name to hundreds of ports, islands, and inlets, and thousands of baby boys He became one of the best loved saints in all of Christendom, adopted by both the Eastern and Western traditions Christmas probably owes something to his December 6 feast day, while Santa Clauss red outfit may come from his red bishops robes Santa Claus is derived from Sinterklaas, which was how Dutch immigrants to New Amsterdam pronounced his name As one of the most popular saints in the Christian world, Nicholas had a particularly powerful corpse The bodies of saints and martyrs had been important to Christianity since its beginning the earliest churches were built on the tombs of saints It was thought that the bodily bits of saints functioned like spiritual walkie talkies you could communicate with higher powers through them, and they, in turn, could manifest holy forces on Earth They could heal you, protect you, and even perform miracles Sometimes, the miracles concerned the saints own bodies Their corpses would refuse to decay, exude an inexplicable ooze, or start to drip blood that mysteriously solidified and then reliquefied So it was with Nicholas at some point after his death, his bones began to secrete a liquid called manna or myrrh, which was said to smell like roses and possess potent healing powers The appearance of the manna was taken as a sign that Nicholass corpse was especially holy, and pilgrims began flocking by the thousands to his tomb in the port city of Myra now called Demre By the eleventh century, other cities started getting jealous At the time, cities and churches often competed for relics, which brought power and prestige to their hometowns the way a successful sports team might today Originally, the relics trade had been nourished by the catacombs in Rome, but when demand outstripped supply, merchantsand even monkswerent above sneaking down into the crypts of churches to steal some holy bones Such thefts werent seen as a sin the sanctity of the remains trumped any ethical concerns The relics were also thought to have their own personalitiesif they didnt want to be stolen, they wouldnt allow it Like King Arthurs sword in the stone, they could only be removed by the right person That was how Myra lost Saint Nicholas The culprits were a group of merchants and sailors from the town of Bari, located on the heel of Italys boot Like other relic thefts, this one came at a time of crisis for the town where the thieves lived, which in this case had recently been invaded by a horde of rapacious Normans The conquerors wanted to compete with the Venetians, their trading rivals to the north, who were known for stealing the bones of Saint Mark disguised in a basket of pork from Alexandria in 827 And when the Normans heard that Myra had recently fallen to the Turks, leaving Nicholass tomb vulnerable, they decided to try stealing a saint for themselves According to an account written shortly after the theft by a Barian clerk, three ships sailed from Bari into Myras harbor in the spring of 1087 Forty seven well armed Barians disembarked and strode into the church of Saint Nicholas, where they asked to see the saints tomb The monks, who werent idiots, got suspicious and asked why they wanted to know The Barians then dropped any pretense of politeness, tied the monks up, and smashed their way into Nicholass sarcophagus They found his skeleton submerged in its manna and smelled a heavenly perfume wafting up from the bones, which licked at the venerable priests as if in insatiable embrace And so Nicholas of Myra became Nicholas of Bari The relics made the town, and the men who stole them The thieves became famous in the area, and for centuries their descendants received a percentage of the offerings given on the saints feast day The townspeople built a new basilica to hold the remains, which drew thousands of pilgrims throughout the Middle Ages Even today, Bari remains a major pilgrimage site in southern Italy, visited by both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians Every May an elaborate festival, the Feast of the Translation, celebrates the arrival of Nicholass relics As one of the highlights, the rector of the basilica bends over Nicholass sarcophagus and draws off some of the manna in a crystal vial The fluid is mixed with holy water and poured into decorated bottles sold in Baris shops it is thought to be a curative drink But Bari is not the only place that boasts of the bones of Saint Nicholas If you ask the Venetians, they will say their own sailors visited Myra during the First Crusade and stole Nicholass remains, which have been in Venice ever since For centuries, both Bari and Venice have claimed the saints skeleton In the twentieth century, scientists waded into the dispute During renovations to the basilica of Bari in 1953, church officials allowed University of Bari anatomy professor Luigi Martino to examine the remainsthe first time the tomb had been opened in than eight hundred years Martino found the bones wet, fragile, and fragmented, with many of them missing He concluded that they had belonged to a man who died in his seventies, although because Martino was given only a short time with the bones, he could say little Four decades later, Martino and other scientists also studied the Venetian bones They concluded that those relics and the ones in Bari had come from the same skeleton, and theorized that the Venetian sailors had stolen what was left in Myra after the Barians had done all their smashing As for Demre, all they have is an empty tomb And they want their bones back In 2009, the Turkish government said it was considering a formal request to Rome for the return of Nicholass remains Though the bones have little religious significance in a nation thats 99 percent Muslim, theres still a sense in Turkey that the centuries old theft was a cultural violation Its restitution would certainly be an economic benefit according to local officials, tourists in Demre frequently complain about the barren tomb, and they werent satisfied by the giant plastic sculpture of Santa Claus that once stood outside Nicholass church Even though Santa has become an international cultural icon, his myth is still rooted in a set of bones far from home BLESSED BITS Saint Anthony of Padua 11951231 was a Portuguese Franciscan renowned for his oratorical skills A few decades after his death, his Franciscan brothers opened his tomb, where they found only dust and bonesexcept for his tongue, which appeared perfectly preserved The friars took this as a tribute to the saints eloquence, and today the tongue is displayed in a crystal urn at the Basilica of Saint Anthony in Padua, Italy At least one visitor describes it as looking like a shriveled strawberry The Hazratbal Shrine in Kashmir, India, is said to contain a hair plucked from the beard of the Prophet Muhammad In 1963 the holy whisker was stolen, but after mass protests across the region, it was returned the following year The Moi e Muqaddas sacred hair , as it is known, goes on display ten times each year According to legend, several of the Buddhas teeth were plucked out of his ashes after his cremation sometime around the sixth century BCE The most famous of these his left canine , is supposed to have been smuggled into Sri Lanka in the hair of a princess after centuries of wars over its possession, which was said to confer the right to rule the land Today, the tooth is on display at the Temple of the Holy Tooth in Kandy, Sri Lanka, where it is venerated by hundreds of pilgrims each day, and during a ten night Sacred Tooth Festival each summer.A marvelously macabre Kirkus Reviews history of the bizarre afterlives of corpses of the celebrated and notorious dead.For some of the most influential figures in history, death marked the start of a new adventure The famous deceased have been stolen, burned, sold, pickled, frozen, stuffed, impersonated, and even filed away in a lawyers office Their fingers, teeth, toes, arms, legs, skulls, hearts, lungs, and nether regions have embarked on voyages that crisscross the globe and stretch the imagination Counterfeiters tried to steal Lincolns corpse Einsteins brain went on a cross country road trip And after Lord Horatio Nelson perished at Trafalgar, his sailors submerged him in brandywhich they drank From Alexander the Great to Elvis Presley, and from Beethoven to Dorothy Parker, Rest in Pieces connects the lives of the famous dead to the hilarious and horrifying adventures of their corpses, and traces the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death. 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    • Format Kindle
    • 1451655002
    • Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses
    • Bess Lovejoy
    • Anglais
    • 12 October 2017
    • 352 pages

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