Calcata - The last home of the Holy Foreskin of Jesus
In 1557 the Holy Prepuce was discovered in Calcata, a clifftop medieval village about 30 miles north of Rome. The relic had been hidden there by an imprisoned German soldier after the sack of Rome in 1527.
The Holy Prepuce of Calcata was officially venerated by theCatholic Church,with the Vatican’s offering to forgive 10 years worth of sins for pilgrims who went to pray to the Holy Foreskin of Jesus.Nuns and monks from nearby villages and monasteries made candlelit processions. Calcata became the must-see destination on the pilgrimage map, and for centuries, lines of pilgrims stretched from the church doors to beyond the walls of the fortress town.
All was well until 1856, when the abbey of Charroux in France claimed that a workman repairing the abbey had found a reliquary containing their missing Holy Foreskin hidden inside a wall. This set off a fierce theological clash that was solved in 1900 by the pope decreeing that henceforth, anyone who wrote about or even spoke about the Holy Prepuce would be excommunicated.
54 years later, when a monk wanted to include Calcata in a pilgrimage tour guide, Vatican officials didn’t just reject the proposal ,they upped the punishment: now, anyone uttering its name would face the harshest form of excommunication, vitandus excommunicate (infamous and to be avoided). They did however conclude that Calcata’s holy foreskin was more legitimate than other claimants.
In Calcata the Holy Prepuce continued to be displayed in an annual procession on the Day of the Holy Circumcision (1st January) until it was reportedly stolen in 1983. Some suggest it ended up on the relics black market; some even suggest Satanists or neo-Nazis are responsible. Most however suspect the Vatican as the likely culprit since the 20th-century church had begun to feel a bit bashful about its flock fawning over the 2,000-year-old tip of the redeemer’s manhood. No one is speaking, citing the 1954 threat of excommunication.
The New York Times described Calcata as what “may be the grooviest village in Italy, home to a wacky community of about 100 artists, bohemians, aging hippies and New Age types." They arrived in the 1960’s to squat in the then-empty town after the government evacuated it, thinking that it may collapse during an earthquake.