Charroux Abbey
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Long Live the Saint Prepuce!
Charroux may be a small, insignificant town today but in the Middle Ages it attracted hordes of pilgrims. The once large (now ruined) abbey here housed a very special relic: the holy prepuce, or foreskin of Jesus, said to be the only piece of flesh Christ could have left on earth after his ascension. Never mind that there were Holy Foreskins in Rome, and several other French towns. This one magically appeared when a neighboring and rival abbey had suddenly announced they'd discovered some prized relics. So the monks living in Charroux one-upped their rivals: they conveniently (and rather magically) discovered they not only had the Holy Foreskin, but it had been donated, as the story goes, by the great king Charlemagne. Even the town itself is a reference to the relic: Char (red) roux (skin), and the abbey was designed in a way to reference the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem where Charlemagne reportedly received the relic from an angel. Today the relic is long gone. No one knows where it is. The only thing that remains is the reliquary (pictured) which has an inscription: "HIC CARO ET SANGUIS CHRISTI CONTINETUR." (“Here is contained the flesh and blood of Christ.”)
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