Monday, June 8, 2009

Title Forty One: Rag and Bone (A Journey Among the World's Holy Dead) by Peter Manseau

This looked way more interesting when I picked it up, kids. I mean, I was raised Catholic, so I'm very familiar with the concept of relics (essentially a piece of a holy person, most often a saint; sometimes clothing will work too). I thought it might be cool to read about the experiences of a guy who spent years traveling around the world in search of certain relics - Saint Anthony's tongue; Saint Francis' toe; Jesus' foreskin; Muhammad's whisker; the Buddha's tooth. Manseau does a decent enough job of describing the relics' places in their respective faiths/belief systems, and gives some informative context, such as the juxtaposition of the world's religions in the Middle East and the genocide in Sri Lanka (site of the Temple of the Holy Tooth). The book itself isn't poorly written. It's just that the subject is as dry as the relics themselves, and it's kind of hard to get jazzed up about it. I salute Manseau for his thorough research and interesting travels, but beyond that, I've got nothing.

(The closest I've ever come to a relic was when I visited the Saint Katherine Drexel Shrine here in Bucks County and prayed at the altar where the saint is buried. I might want to see one sometime, though. Seems kind of interesting.)

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