Ecclesiastical Dolls

The online collections of great museums are a treasure, and the Victoria & Albert is no exception. Dig around in there long enough and weird things always pop out, such as … Ecclesiastical dolls! The V&A has a set of fifty dolls dressed in the habits of the orders prominent in France, Germany, and the…

The Wild Hunt and the Purgatorial Procession

A mass of ferocious men ride across the sky on giant black goats and black horses, making a fearsome din as they charge to the hunt, baying black hounds at their sides. Those who hear the approaching noise must not look or they risk being dragged into the Wild Hunt of the dead. With plenty of…

St. John’s Obedient Bedbugs

Like several of the apocryphal books of the Bible, the Acts of John likely preserves some historical core around which legendary (and eventually some heretical) material accrued as it wended its way through time and place. In The Fate of the Apostles, Sean McDowell argues convincingly that, in spite of their obvious ahistorical material, apocrypha like…

Michael Ludwig and the Demon

In the Église des Jésuites of Molsheim in Northern France there was curious relic described as late as the 17th century. Within the soaring grandeur of the Gothic cathedral is found the Baroque chapel of St. Ignatius of Loyola, which housed among other items two scraps of paper written in Greek. The story behind them…

The Top of St. Thomas Becket’s Skull

The martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket has a been a popular subject for artists from the middle ages to the 20th century, but one detail of the murder stands out in a few depictions. These show the top of the saints skull being shorn off by the first blow, like so: And: And: Medieval art…