An Irreverent Curiosity

An Irreverent Curiosity

In Search of the Church's Strangest Relic in Italy's Oddest Town

Book - 2009
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Penguin Putnam
A tour through the centuries and through a bizarre Italian town in search of an unbelievable relic: the foreskin of Jesus Christ

In December 1983, a priest in the Italian hill town of Calcata shared shocking news with his congregation: The pride of their town, the foreskin of Jesus, had been stolen. Some postulated that it had been stolen by Satanists. Some said the priest himself was to blame. Some even pointed their fingers at the Vatican. In 2006, travel writer David Farley moved to Calcata, determined to find the missing foreskin, or at least find out the truth behind its disappearance. Farley recounts how the relic passed from Charlemagne to the papacy to a marauding sixteenth-century German solider before finally ending up in Calcata, where miracles occurred that made the sleepy town a major pilgrimage destination. Over the centuries, as Catholic theology evolved, the relic came to be viewed as something of an embarrassment, culminating in a 1900 Church decree that allowed the parish to display it only on New Year's Day.

An Irreverent Curiosity interweaves this history with the curious landscape of Calcata, a beautiful and untouched medieval village set atop four-hundred-fifty-foot cliffs, which now, due to the inscrutable machinations of Italian bureaucracy, is a veritable counterculture coven. Blending history, travel, and perhaps the oddest story in Christian lore, An Irreverent Curiosity is a weird and wonderful tale of conspiracy and misadventure.

Baker & Taylor
The author weaves together history, travel, and religion as he describes how Calcata, Italy’s prized relic—the supposed foreskin of Jesus—was stolen in 1983, who might have taken it, and how it ended up there.

Blackwell North Amer
In December 1983, a priest in the Italian hill town of Calcata shared some shocking news with his congregation. Their beloved relic, the pride of their village, had been stolen. And this was no ordinary relic: It was the foreskin of Jesus Christ. Some postulated that it had been stolen by Satanists. Some said the priest himself was to blame. Some even pointed their fingers at the Vatican.
Journalist David Farley spent a year in Calcata in search of the holy foreskin, sifting through the relic's long history of myths and legends, popes and princes, armies and emperors. Farley recounts how the relic passed from an angel's hand to Charlemagne to the papacy to a marauding German soldier before finally ending up in Calcata in the sixteenth century, where miracles occurred that made the sleepy town a pilgrimage destination. Over the centuries, as Catholic theology evolved, the relic became something of an embarrassment to the Church - especially as a dozen other towns also claimed to have Christ's foreskin. Eventually the Church passed a decree that allowed it to be displayed just once a year, on New Year's Day, and threatened with excommunication those who spoke about it on any other day.
An Irreverent Curiosity interweaves this history with the curious landscape of Calcata, a town just thirty miles from Rome but largely untouched since the Middle Ages and now - due to a fascist-era ruling and the inscrutable machinations of Italian bureaucracy - a counterculture coven filled with those the Italians call frichettoni: freaks. In search of the relic, Farley encounters everyone from the doddering village priest to an Egyptologist who lives in a cave with her flock of crows. He also infiltrates the Vatican, learns the mystical power of Calcata, and shares home-brewed wine with the local fascist.

Baker
& Taylor

The author weaves together history, travel, and religion as he describes how Calcata, Italy's prized relic, the supposed foreskin of Jesus, was stolen in 1983, who might have taken it, and how it ended up there.

Publisher: New York, N.Y. : Gotham Books, c2009
ISBN: 9781592404544
1592404545
Characteristics: 291 p. ; 24 cm

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