In Calcata, which is one of the smallest and most modest villages in the Viterbo area, the most important bodily relic of Jesus was kept, since the relic “disappeared” in the mid-1980s (but we will talk about this in another subsequent session, ed.). : a tiny particle of flesh that was severed from the Child during the circumcision and mysteriously preserved for about two thousand years.
As is well known, among the Jews circumcision was a mainly religious practice and families often used to keep the very small fragment, a bit like in some places it is customary today to keep the first tooth that fell out of a child for some time. Thus, even the Mother of the Redeemer kept the relic with her, to which she then added a few drops of divine blood collected under the Cross.
The existence, the historicity, the theological consequences associated with this fragment of Christ’s humanity have been discussed at length: St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure affirm that Jesus “omni integritati resurrexit”, but that the existence of this Relic on earth does not conflict with the integrity of the Resurrection, since the Redeemer “resurrected as he lived”. What proofs can we have on the authenticity of the relic itself, how can we truly, in front of the precious casket that contains it (even the precious casket has disappeared and well before the relic ed), murmur moved «a particle of the body of Jesus and a few drops of his divine blood?
Obviously, it is not possible to rely on rigorous historical documentation: however, there is a centuries-old tradition that speaks in favor of the Relic, and above all there are the prodigies – the mysterious signs of the supernatural – which have flourished around it; here too, in short, it is a question of faith: «blessed are those who believe…».
But at this point the reader will certainly want to know how the precious relic could have reached Calcata. After Mary’s death, the drops of Jesus’ blood and the fragment of his flesh were kept by St. John. the beloved apostle, and from these they then had to pass into other devoted hands; so lovingly preserved from generation to generation, they came to Charlemagne who brought them first to the church of S. Maria in Aachen, then to a church he had built specifically in the diocese of Poitiers. On the occasion of his coronation, the Emperor gave them to Leo III who placed them in the chapel of S. Lorenzo known as the “Sancta Sanctorum”. And here they remained for the veneration of the faithful for over seven centuries.
In 1527, during the famous «sack of Rome» the soldiers fled with several finds and riches (omissis). In particular, a landsknecht stole a casket, promising himself to open it at his convenience and then sell the contents. Arrived near Calcata, however, he was arrested by some armed peasants and locked up in a cave. Fearful of the consequences that could arise if they found the stolen goods on him, he then hid the box in the cave, and when he was released he preferred to leave it there, perhaps thinking of recovering it later, in better times. Returning to Rome, however, the soldier fell seriously ill, and on his deathbed confessed to a priest the theft he had committed; but he was unable to indicate the place where he had hidden the casket, except that this must have been near a castle belonging to the Anguillara lords.
Clement VII was immediately informed of the fact, who gave orders to Giovan Battista Anguillara that in his fiefdoms of Stabbia, Mazzano and Calcata, diligent searches were made, but these, for very long years, did not give any results.
Finally, in October 1557, it was the parish priest of Calcata who found the precious casket in the cave. Moroni recounts the event thus: (i) «the priest brought the small casket half a palm long and 4 fingers high, to Maddalena Strozzi wife of Flaminio Anguillara then residing in Stabbia. The lady opened it in the presence of her, of Clarice, her daughter of about eight years of age and of Lucrezia Orsini, widow of the aforementioned Giovar Battista, and she found inside some cloth rolls, each with maps with their names difficult to read as worn by the weather…
A white bundle had written the venerable name of Jesus, but in vain the lady tried to untie it, stiffening her hands twice. Surprised at the event, she prayed to God to her glory to let her loosen it, but her fingers again became motionless. As all those present were amazed, Lucrezia said it might contain the relic of Christ, the search for which Clement VII had entrusted to her late husband. As soon as this was said, a sweet fragrance came out of the package and was so acute that it immediately spread throughout the palace. All bewildered by the new prodigy, he advised the priest to have the virgin Clarice try to open it, who happily disbanded the group, and when the relic appeared, she placed it in a silver basin, … and the odor which, handed down a pleasant smell , lasted two days in the hands of Clarice and her mother. From this were then placed the SS. Relics in new silk bags, and placed them in the casket, he returned them to the parish priest to bring them back to Calcata, and placed them for the veneration of the faithful in the church of Saints Cornelius and Cyprian, where God soon worked sensational miracles.
The two main prodigies are: When the Countess Maddalena Strozzi went to Rome to inform Paul IV, he immediately sent to Calcata to recognize her identity.
Pipinello and Attilio of the Cenci family, canons of the Lateran basilica. Once in Calcata and after the recognition was performed with a public deed, Pipinello Cenci tried to squeeze the relic to see if it was yieldable, but having compressed it too much, it divided into two parts, one remaining as big as a small chickpea and the other as a grain of hemp seed (hemp was extensively cultivated in Calcata until 1946, the year in which it was prohibited and the seeds delivered to the allied troops for destruction. ed)”.
At that fact Heaven seemed to be indignant (and although it was one of the most serene days of spring) suddenly darkening, increasing everyone’s fear with thunder and lightning. Once the sacred terror has ceased, the SS. Relic since placed in place of her.
The second prodigy took place in 1559 when on January 1 some women of the company of S. Orsola di Mazzano, a mile away from Calcata, went in procession to venerate her, with many men and children, carrying torches and lighted candles. They managed to see the relic, but placed on the altar by the archpriest, a cloud arose instantly which covered it in an instant and the priest lost his senses, and it swelled throughout the temple with such density that none saw the neighbor, for four hours. At which time here and there stars and flashes of fire were glimpsed. Dazzled and moaning, the bells were rung to invite the surrounding towns to see the marvel, and the Church not being enough for those who flocked, they uncovered the roof to admire the miraculous event…».
Naturally the Lateran Canons later wanted to recover the Relic to put it back in their basilica, and invited, with the Pope’s permission, some messengers to Calcata; the inhabitants, however, strongly opposed it and Clement VIII believed
appropriate to accept their request and let the famous relic remain there forever, in the village where it was found (i).
1) Perhaps the Castle took the name of Calcata due to the depressed locality in which it is located.
2) Moroni, Historical-Ecclesiastical Dictionary.
3) Special indulgences were granted by Sixtus V, by Urban VIII, by Innocent X, by Alexander VII: Benedict XIII in 1724 extended the indulgence in perpetuity, as can be read from a plaque placed in the church of SS. Cornelius and Cyprian, for the veneration of the relic which «is kept inside a removable case, always covered with a rich veil, supported by two standing Angels half a palm’s height on a two-finger high and flat base of massive gilded silver with lace of gold, in the shape of an oval vase with a proportionate foot that opens like a small box, serving as an imperial crown enriched with precious gems. In the internal concavity of the urn, lined with white taffeta, on a clean crystal, the Relic sprinkled with bloody drops and reddening can be seen wonderfully».
Here, this is a beautiful historical religious testimony and I invite you to keep it jealously in your telematic caskets (and not only).
Post Scriptum: The mystery of the theft of the sacred foreskin still unsolved – “The sacred skin had become an uncomfortable find, in fact if in previous years it was carried in procession and attracted hundreds of devotees from all over Lazio, already at the end of the 70s it had been removed from the Sancta Sanctorum of the parish church of Calcata and at the time of its disappearance (which occurred in 1982 or 1983? The date is uncertain…) – as stated by the parish priest – «it was kept on top of an old wardrobe in his bedroom». But let’s get to the point, of that Foreskin of Christ – evaporated into thin air – it should be emphasized that in addition to the hypothetical disappearance we should worry about where the entire body of Jesus ended up, which according to Christian tradition ascended into heaven, but, according to history subsequent, deprived of a small part…“