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Wednesday 9 September 2009

Relics and Underwear

What would Queen Victoria make of the fact that her bloomers have once again appeared on the news! It appears that her underwear, embroidered with the royal crest, is now a 'national treasure' and her waist and bust measurements are put out for all the world to see. It's an amusing story and one that I think might possibly amuse Queen Victoria. Perhaps it's a sign of a faithless or bankrupt nation that such intimate items are stored as national treasures, and, on the other hand, perhaps it's a sign of English quirkiness and it is something we can all relate to and it is both humorous and respectful...

Yesterday I watched the footage of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Grand Duchess Elizabeth's Convent of Martha and Mary. Expecting a beautiful celebration of the loveliness she intended to create, I found it horrifying and revolting to see her bones being paraded around. I have absolutely no desire to offend the Orthodox religion, for which I have great respect, but would love someone to explain to me why such macabre displays are viewed as pious. Perhaps it is the English mentality (the mentality that laughs with and yet honours an old monarch's underwear) that considers such clothing intimate and worthy of a news report, but to actually take someone's bones and parade them about is horrendous to me. Please, some kind Orthodox person, explain it to me!

Having been raised as a Catholic, I am familiar with the skeletons reverenced in Italy - including the skeleton of St. Frances of Rome; have seen the bodies of Sts. Vincent de Paul and Catherine Laboure in Paris; the relics of saints even in my school chapel; the bits of fingers, the toes, the fragments of corpses, and even the bits of cloth that had touched those bones. At this time, the relics of Therese of Lisieux are being paraded around England. There was a time when I would have found this pious. Now I find it revolting. Much is written in Christian history of the macabre practices of pagans; horror stories are made of mad men digging up bones in the night....and yet these are the relics that are paraded about in the name of piety??

It might sound like I am scoffing at someone else's beliefs or being flippant. and, please believe me, I am not! I just think that Queen Victoria's undergarments are a little closer to the person who is being honoured, and are far less intrusive, than a macabre ritual of bones in boxes...

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