“I love cannibals!” I mean, Catholics…

Eat of my body, drink of my blood… The whole mass tradition winds up sounding kind of creepy. Cannibalism has an interesting history though and remains a fascinating intellectual exercise. For some other time, though.

When Catholics aren’t symbolically eating Jesus, they’re revering pope blood. John Paul II is on the fast track to beatification and part of getting him there has justified hanging onto his blood “donations.” They will be used as part of the ceremony and then kept among the collections of holy relics the Church already covets around the world.

The Vatican made the announcement Tuesday, putting to rest questions about what relic would be presented during Sunday’s beatification.

In a statement, the Vatican said four small vials of blood had been taken from John Paul during his final days for a possible transfusion, but were never used. Two of the vials were given to John Paul’s private secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, and another two remained at the Vatican’s Bambin Gesu hospital in the care of nuns.

One of the hospital vials will be placed in a reliquary and presented Sunday; the other will remain with the nuns.

I wondered if there were other blood relics anywhere and found one at the basilica Saint-Basilius, AKA The Holy Blood of Bruges (in Bruges, naturally) where the faithful can gaze upon and venerate the relic every Friday.

According to the old tradition, Derrick of Alsace, Count of Flanders, brought the relic of the Holy Blood with him after the second crusade, having received it in the Holy Land (1150).

Because of his exceptional heroism during this crusade, Derrick received this relic, with the approval of the patriarch of Jerusalem, from the hands of his brother-in-law, Baldwin III of Anjou, King of Jerusalem.

Arriving in Bruges on april 7th 1150, Count Derrick, accompanied by his wife Sybilla of Anjou and Leonius, abbot of Saint Bertin’s abbey of Saint Omar, brought the relic to the Basilius chapel on the Burg, a chapel which he himself had built.

According to legend, some Templars had found a stone jar in the “Holy Grave” in Jerusalem on Christmas day and became convinced it held Christ’s blood. It held a liquid of some kind, for certain, which they poured into an octagonal bottle they had on hand and sealed the liquid inside it.

Sybilla of Anjou was a leper who suffered from terrible attacks of fever. After the sealing of the bottle, she held the precious Relic in her hands for just a moment, triggering in her a vision of “a New Jerusalem of the West”: the city of Bruges. In the same moment Sybilla and all lepers surrounding here had been miraculously cured.

If you can’t get to Bruges, there’s always the option to buy something that supposedly touched the blood itself, a bargain at ten dollars.

We will send you this very special package. Inside you will find a very special piece of material that has been touched to this rare Holy Blood relic that was preserved by Joseph of Arimathea.

Your package will come with a piece of material in a package that was touched to an authentic piece of Joseph of Arimathea’s cloth, certificate of authenticity, a history sheet, and a Holy Relic card.

And if this doesn’t interest you, they also sell tea.

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