Christians across the world believe that Jesus Christ is the messiah, savior and son of God that came to save humanity. Jesus Christ’s ministry on earth left many Christians formulating many relics that are associated with Jesus Christ and are widely used in places of worship by Christians. There are of course divided views concerning the authenticity and validity of the relics. For an extended period, objects qualified as relics were associated with Jesus Christ and have been adored worldwide. The history attributed to these religious relics is fascinating and controversial. The authenticity, reliability, and validity of many of the relics are not yet verified, for instance, the remnants such as Holy Nails, shroud Turin among others are some of the controversial relics that are associated with Jesus Christ. This list explores the top ten of the most controversial relics associated with Jesus Christ.
1 The Holy Grail
The Holy Grail refers to the cup that Jesus Christ used during the Last Supper. This very cup, according to religious, historical documents, the Holy Grail was used by Joseph of Arimathea to collect the blood of Jesus Christ. The Holy Grail and the Blood of Jesus Christ are venerated and hold significant value to the Christian faith. The high significance explains the reasons many people are intrigued, fascinated, and mystified by the Holy Grail relic.
The controversy emerges from the fact that several cups surfaced and competed for the title of the Holy Grail, with the Holy Chalice of Valencia stands above them all. According to the Catholic church, the Holy Chalice of Valencia have been used by the first 22 popes starting with St. Peter to Pope Sixtus II, and for save keeping reasons, Pope Sixtus II have the Holy Chalice to St. Laurence. Upon his death, the relic was brought to Spain, and this makes the Holy Chalice have higher chances of being the authentic Holy Grail, dating back to 262 AD. Modern Popes only use it on special occasions.
2 The Holy Prepuce/Holy Foreskin
The Holy Prepuce was the foreskin of Jesus Christ. It is the most prized Christian relic on this list because it was once a party of the body of Christ. The Holy Foreskin of baby Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day like it was the custom of the Jewish. The Holy Prepuce presences as a relic date back to the earliest claim of Charlemagne around 800 AD discovery which he claimed that the angel gave the Holy Foreskin to him. When he was crowned the emperor of Rome, Charlemagne gave the relic to Pope Leo III.
The introduction of the relic into the Catholic world, the Holy Prepuce has increased controversy and commotion among European churches, with over 21 churches claiming to possess Holy Foreskin demanding to be declared to be the right holder. The Catholic church under the reign of Pope Clement VII made an official stand that the foreskin owned by the Charroux monks was the authentic Holy Prepuce of Jesus Christ. Theologians argue that during the resurrection of Jesus Christ his entire body including the parts that no longer attached ascended to heaven and therefore, all the claimants of the Holy Prepuce are frauds.
3 The Blood of Christ
According to the legend pointing out that after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Joseph of Arimathea used a piece of clothing to wipe the blood from the face of Jesus. The cloth was preserved as an artifact in the Holy Land until the second crusade when the king of the Holy Land (Jerusalem) gave the relic to his brother in law Count of Flanders Diederik van de Elzas. The count took the relic to Bruges in Belgium, and the cloth was placed in upper chapel of the basilica of the Holy Blood.
The cloth was stored beautifully decorated with angels and adorned with gold and remains unopened to date. The vial was made of rock crystals that were intended to store perfume, according to the recent study reports. The procession of the blood of Christ was held on every Ascension Day festival and tourists, and the public flock in Bruges to witness the procession. The Bishop of Bruges carries the relic of the Blood of Christ through the streets of the town followed behind by the locals and crowds attributing the arrival of the cloth with various historical accounts from the bible.
4 The Shroud of Turin
Among all Christian relics in the history of religion, the Shroud of Turin is the most famous, researched, and perhaps the most controversial relic associated with Jesus Christ. The Catholic church for one has no official position on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, but acknowledge its importance to the Catholic church. The Vatican made arrangements to enable the public to view the shroud as a relic of Christ, and the first documentation of the concerning the Shroud surfaced during the 14th century. According to historical records tracing the journey of the Shroud, it was passed down from one person to another before finding a residence in the cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy in 1578.
To confirm the date of origin of the Shroud of Turin; researchers used the radiocarbon testing procedures. The results of the test showed the shroud might have originated the period between 1260 and 1390; it dismayed the believers from around the globe. The analysis was carried out by three independent laboratories, and all of them arrived at the same conclusion. The implication of the radiocarbon test proves that the shroud is fake (some religious, historical, and scientific experts advanced arguments falsifying the results of the test). Believers globally continue to venerate the iconic relic associated with Jesus Christ.
5 The Holy Nails
The religious, historical, and scientific experts have divided opinions over the number of nails used to crucify Jesus Christ, the debate has never settled, and it started almost from the moment the crucifixion happened. The numbers under contention are three and four, with the experts disagreeing whether the nails were three or four. The argument surrounding the relic of Holy Nails reveals that no one can confirm with certainty how many nails were used. The so-called Holy Nails that are highly revered by Christian believers especially Catholics around the world. The Holy Nails are claimed to be the very nails that were used to nail Jesus Christ on the cross.
The emperor Constantine the Great dispatched his mother Helena to go to Jerusalem to fetch the cross of Jesus Christ along with relics associated with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. She found fragments of the True Cross and also found the Holy Nails and carried them to the emperor. Helena had one of the Holy Nails inserted in the royal helmet of his son for protection from his enemies. The other one was used in the bridle of Constantine’s horse, and the last nail was used in the Iron Crown of Lombardy. Surprisingly, besides the three nails, there are other over thirty nails venerated as Holy Nails through Europe, meaning some of these nails are unauthentic and unproven.
6 The Sudarium of Oviedo
The Sudarium of Oviedo was supposedly used to cover and wipe the face of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. It possesses some similarity with the Shroud of Turin in that they were both used after the crucifixion of the Messiah. The Sudarium does not contain an image. However, it is believed to contain blood stains on it, the blood that is claimed to be from Jesus Christ’s. In the gospel of John, there was a reference to the existence of a cloth which was used to wipe and cover the face of Jesus Christ.
The evidence regarding the Sudarium is only found in the Pelagius, the bishop of Oviedo who was famous during the 12th century. The chest that was claimed to contain the Sudarium was opened in 1075 before Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar which is known as the El Cid in the modern world. The Sudarium of Oviedo relic is displayed to the public three times per year in the cathedral of Oviedo in Spain. According to the radiocarbon tests, the Sudarium dates back to 700AD, meaning its older than the Shroud of Turin triggering the concern and debate of its authenticity and validity.
7 The Holy Lance/Spear of Longinus
The Holy Lance is a relic that was used during the crucifixion of Christ. The Spear of Longinus is believed to be the spear used to pierce the side of the body of Jesus during crucifixion to ascertain that he was dead on the cross. Based on modern discoveries, there are many conflicting narrations encompassing the 1098 Antioch city story by the impoverished and unknown Monk, Peter Bartholomew. According to the monk, St. Andrew appeared to him in a vision while the city was under siege saying that the Holy Lance was hidden under the cathedral of St. Peter.
When he appeared before the Bishop of Lepuy and Count Raymond is explaining his encounter and revelation. The bishop was skeptical of the claim, but the count was impressed, and the count’s men dug under St. Peter Cathedral and to his dismay found nothing. However, when Bartholomew jumped into the trench, he found a piece of iron which he claimed was the Holy Lance. Many Christian believers registered their doubt, but this discovery of the Spear of Longinus inspired the starving of the crusading army as a strategy employed to break the siege of the city in one of the big battles of the First Crusade.
8 The Crown of Thorns
The crown of thorns has been an object of Christian prayer for more than sixteen centuries. According to Christianity, the crown of thorns was claimed to have been worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion on the cross at Golgotha. Many scientific and historical types of research around the relic of The Crown of Thorns and yet to be proven as legitimate, valid, and authenticity relic of religious worship. Millions of Christians across the world are undeterred from venerating controversial religious relics from worship.
The crown of thorns endured long challenging adventures before finding its home at Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in France where it is permanently housed at the Holy Crown of thorns along with other relics. For instance, Emperor Baldwin of Constantinople in 1238 pawned the Crown of thorns to a Vatican bank to secure a loan to solve the financial difficulties during his administration. However, in 1239, the king of France, Saint Louis repurchased the crown and brought in at Notre-Dame de Paris. Initially, the Crown of Thorns had 70 thorns but over the centuries under the different reign of French kings and Byzantine emperors; the thorns have been divided repeatedly.
9 The Image of Edessa/Mandylion/the Holy Towel
The image of Edessa has many stories attributed to its origin. The most outstanding one entails the story most accepted revolving around the correspondence between King Abgar of Edessa and Jesus Christ. The legend of King Abgar suggests that the king commanded his servant Ananias to search for Jesus Christ and give him the letter requesting Christ to come to King Abgar’s city and heal him of leprosy. In response it was claimed that Jesus declined the request, he, however, blessed Abgar, and promised to send one of his disciples to heal his leprosy.
However, some version of the tale indicates that Ananias was the painter who painted the image of Jesus Christ on a cloth to accompany the return letter. Others claim that Jesus handed a towel he had washed his face with and miraculously had his image to Ananias to take to the king. All in all, whichever king Abgar received he revered it.
10 The Veil of Veronica
The veil of Veronica was supposedly used to wipe the face of Jesus along the way to Calvary after which the image Jesus was implanted on the cloth. There is nowhere in the bible where the Veil was mentioned, or the events claimed to have happened along Via Dolorosa on the way to Calvary except the veil was primarily based on legend. During the 17th century, the Veil was stolen from the Vatican. However, after four centuries, the German Jesuit, Father Heinrich Pfeiffer claimed to have rediscovered the long-lost Christian relic, the legendary Veil of Veronica.
He was the professor of Christian Art History at the University of Pontifical Gregoria. According to Pfeiffer, the Veil of Veronica was found in a small village of Monopello in Italy and cannot be proven. The expert ascertaining the claims revolving around the Veil of Veronica is complicated because the legendary relic is fragile and could easily be damaged during the tests. The assumption is that the veil is unauthentic, but believers from across the world associate the spreading of the image of Christ from this important relic.