The blood of Ronald Reagan will not be on the hands of a private owner after all. A British auction house says the anonymous consignor has had a change of heart. Instead he will donate the vial of dried blood---a grisly reminder of the attempted assasination of the 4oth president on that fateful March day in 1981---to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation. So ends a rather sleazy episode of anything for a profit.
The consignor says that a sense of public spirit motivated his volte- face. But the threat of legal action by the Reagan family may have had some bearing on his decision too.
Republicans today have compiled a hagiography about President Reagan. In their eyes he's a sort of political saint. Just imagine. If he were a real saint in the rubrics of the Roman Catholic Church, his blood would be a relic of the 1st class---part of his physical remains. And selling it would be a sin.
By the way, the ordinary man on the street would be amazed at the holy relics out there. From the forearm of St. Stephen, King of Hungary, to a bone fragment of the mystic St. Bernard of Clairvaux. A cathedral in Dubuque has the remains of St. Cessianus, a boy martyred by the Roman emperor, Diocletian. St. Catherine of Siena's head is--- where else--- in a church in Siena. But her body's in Rome.
Remember those lines about meeting a man with seven wives going to St. Ives? Well, the skull of St. Ives is preserved in France. The head of my namesake, St. Thomas Aquinas, was even saved---he did a lot of thinking you know---by his fellow monks. It was kind of the religious version of Einstein's brain, I guess.
Even in the Old Testament, we read about Elisha's bones bringing a dead man back to life. And in the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, for all to see, is the hand of John the Baptist. His bones were recently discovered in a Bulgarian Monastery. Now if we could only find where Salome hid his head.
Topkapi also has among its relics a beard hair of the prophet Muhammad. And his footprint.
Most Christians are familiar with the Shroud of Turin, which may or may not have the image of Christ. But there are many relics of the 2nd class associated with Our Lord: splinters from the cross he was crucified on; the cloth that St. Veronica used to wipe the blood from his face as he carried the cross to Calgary; his crown of thorns. And the nails that pierced his hands and feet on the cross. There had to be at most 3 or 4.
Across Europe today, 30 nails are venerated as relics of the crucifixion. OK. I know what you're thinking. But at least no one's trying to auction them off, right?
Filed under: history