Circumcision by David Gollaher, 2000, Excerpts
Before and during the Renaissance, throughout Christendom’s golden age of relic worship, one of the most prized and most esoteric relics was the foreskin of Christ. Legend held that the foreskin emitted a sublime odor, much to the delight of grand ladies of Rome.
One legend held that Mary saved her son’s prepuce and carried it about on her person until she ascended to heaven, there to present it to him so that he might stand intact before God the Father. Others, however, suggested that it was left behind and survived. Some people believed that Mary the Mother of Jesus gave it to Mary Magdalene who, before her death, passed it on to the apostles. According to the Revelations of Saint Birgitta, a Swedish saint who was canonized toward the end of the fourteenth century, Mary appeared to her in a dream and told how she had preserved the blessed foreskin and finally handed it to Jesus’ disciple John.
By various means of concealment, as the story goes, an angelic courier, in anticipation of Charlemagne’s coronation by Pope Leo XIII in the year 800, spirited the relic to Charlemagne. The emperor, in turn, presented the foreskin to the Church. It remained a private possession of the popes until the sack of Rome in 1527. Its rescue and return to Rome was interpreted as a miracle in its own right.
The Feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord is a feast day formerly celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church on 1 January as a holy day of obligation. It was a feast celebrating not only Christ consenting to submit to Jewish Law, but also the first time that the Redeemer spilled his blood for mankind. Traditional Catholics still celebrate this feast under this name.
Gives a whole new meaning to “Happy New Year’.
Guido Reni 1575-1642
German postage stamp honors circumcision as ancient tradition
26 Aug 2012
As debate over circumcision rages in Germany, the postal service in that country has issued a commemorative stamp likely to play into the hands of those supporting the custom. The stamp, which will be released on September 11, contains a passage from the New Testament describing the circumcision of Jesus: “On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus” (Luke 2:21).