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Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

August 19, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 94




global perspective More lives of the saints

by Arthur Jones, NCR editor at large

We've a sure fire test now for authenticating saints. Clone their relics. (You read it here first!). Take the bits of bone from the portable ossuaries and bring 'em back alive! Imagine the conversations! The conversions! The letdowns!

Let the Vatican establish a Congregation for Cloning (it would be about as useful as most of the others). What mysteries might be revealed from cloning the ample supply of liquefying blood -- and other purported remainderings, relics of a nature which, if lightly mentioned here, would get me accused at worst of blasphemy or at least of bad taste.

I believe in St. Jude.

Despite which, I have a relic. More, I have a soft canvas purse on a woven cord, and inside the purse is a tough leather pouch, and inside the pouch a gilded metal oval container stamped with curlicues. And inside the container, on a red background, a little bit of bone, and on the finest strip of paper, the legend "S. Thaddaei. Ap." St. Thaddeus, Apostle.

The accompanying certificate is signed on 18 March 1877 by Fr. Leopoldus Angelus Santanchè, Ordinis Minorum S. Francisci Strictioris Observantiae, under the banner of the Archiepiscopus Episcopus Fabrianensis et Matilicensus, guarantees that this is the bone of St. Jude,

Clone this bone and it will either bark or mew.

That's not a reflection on St. Jude but on relics.

As probably the only boy in my class who has actually read the entire Doubleday Dictionary of Saints by John Delaney (never you mind why), I have it on double good authority that not only don't we know where the first century St. Jude went, but some scholars believe there were two of him.

Well, perhaps that's an overstatement.

Scholars see as one person the Thaddeus listed by Matthew and Mark in their gospels, and the Jude in Luke.

Others suggested that Jude of the Twelve (Luke's Jude) may not be the same as "The Epistle of Jude" Jude.

"Legend has it" -- thereby hangs a tale - that Jude Thaddeus preached in Mesopotamia. What else is known, or suggested, comes from an apocryphal Passion of Simon and Jude. He and Simon may have been martyred for preaching.

One thing for certain, wherever his bones moldered, they were not available to the Vatican tourist trade in 1877. And for having said that, you're now going to see little pieces of paper left in the pews and missals of Catholic churches all over the world (okay, in certain big cities in the United States) saying, "Pray to St. Jude for the repose of the soul of Arthur Jones."

Because the St. Jude afficionados and loyalists will calmly counter me by saying that given that St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes, ergo, it could be his bone, because a) with St. Jude anything is possible, and b) that they quite understand why Spiritan Fr. Len Tuozzolo gave me the relic to begin with.

Arthur's Daily Ditty
Saint's be praised!
I'm all for that.
But Sainted relics? Bones of cat.
Accused of making a biddy fuss
I'll sign myself: A. Diddymus.
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