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The Shroud of Turin - one of the more famous relics included in this guide. Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse/Empics Entertainment

Column Cardinal Rules (Part 21) A guide to Christian relics

This week, the (not) Primate of All Ireland presents his guide to the lesser-known Christian relics, such as the Holy Mallet and Saint Paul’s Hanky.

A COUPLE OF WEEKS ago a gentleman by the name of Simcha Jacobovic claimed to have discovered the nails that were used to crucify Jesus. Many of the more secular minded (I was going to say “weak” minded, but it is Good Friday, and I am trying to be nice) among you scoffed at his claim.

In fairness Mr Jacobovic used the finest investigative tools at his disposal, backed by the most compelling argument.

In essence he found the burial place of high priest Caiaphas who had presided over Jesus’ trial. He found two nails within the tomb. The tomb itself was 2,000 years old. Jesus was crucified 2,000 years ago. Therefore they were the very nails used to crucify Jesus.

QED, as you atheistic scientist types might say.

The discovery of these nails has inspired me. And because it is Easter, and because you all need something to bolster your faith, today I present my guide to some of the most important Christian relics ever.

The Holy Mallet

In 1974 renowned archaeologist Professor Frank Walters discovered the mallet which he claimed was the very mallet used to hammer the nails into Christ’s body.

The evidence was overwhelming. For starters the mallet had the words “Mallet used to hammer the nails into Christ’s body” written on it. The cave in which the mallet was found was very old, and the cave itself was just outside Jerusalem (300 miles, give or take a mile or two).

Subsequent one-sided investigations by aggressive secularists suggested that the words written on the mallet were written in Bic biro. They also pointed out that there are two ‘l’s in mallet and not three. A further ludicrous claim that the mallet had a label with “made in China” written on it was laughed out of court by objective Vatican observers.

The mallet has been in the Vatican Museum ever since. Except for the two days in Spring 1984, when Pope John Paul 2nd used it make alterations to his sleeping quarters.

Saint Paul’s Hanky

Legend has it that the hankies of St Paul were imbued with healing properties.

In 1936 an unorthodox American archaeologist unearthed a handkerchief in a tomb in Egypt. After a series of misadventures involving the Ark of the Covenant, some Nazis, and an alcoholic monkey, the hanky found its way to the Vatican.

Vatican scientists proclaimed it a true relic after exhaustive tests showed that the hanky is monogrammed with the initials SP.

Mother Teresa’s veil

In 1994 Mother Teresa visited Ireland. I met her. She was only brilliant and very very small. Three days after she left, Father Lawlor confessed to me that he had “borrowed” one of her veils. I scolded him rather forcefully about this, but since then we have been using it to dry the dishes. The effects are amazing. You can see your face in them! That’s one in the eye for you non-believers.

The Shroud of Turin

For years claim and counter-claim has been made regarding the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin.

“How can the imprint of a man’s body be made on cloth after a mere three days wrapped in it?” has been one of the more clumsy ripostes from secularists.

I always respond by pointing to the example of Father Ryan who did a special six hour “face down” for charity on our sitting room carpet last Christmas. It is a single ply carpet, and yet months later you can still see his face imprinted on it. All other claims re “carbon dating”, early “photography experiments”, and various other blah di blah are therefore rendered null and void.

As we say in the Catholic hierarchy “so there.” Have a Happy Easter, try to eat less chocolate and to think about Jesus more. Amen.

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(Not) Cardinal Sean Brady
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