Sin Eaters performed a ceremony wherein they took on the sins that the deceased performed — sins that went unforgiven or without confession prior to death. People typically hired a Sin Eater in situations where the deceased died unexpectedly.
By consuming bread and a drink (usually wine or beer) placed on, or ritually waved over, the dead body, onlookers believed the dead person’s sins were digested by the eater after he or she consumed this beggar’s feast. The act appears to be confined to 18th and 19th Century Europe, with no accounts of necro-cannibalism noted.
In time, the practice expanded in popularity, so that Sin Eaters also attended to people who had just died of natural causes — because people believed the ritual could help prevent the dead from wandering the countryside after death. -Keith Veronese -Keith Veronese
When Abbess Ebba received tidings of the near approach of the pagan hordes, who had already wrecked vengeance upon ecclesiastics, monks, and consecrated virgins, she summoned her nuns to Chapter, and in a moving discourse exhorted them to preserve at any cost the treasure of their chastity. Then seizing a razor, and calling upon her daughters to follow her heroic example, she mutilated her face in order to inspire the barbarian invaders with horror at the sight. The nuns without exception courageously followed the example of their abbess. When the Danes broke into the cloister and saw the nuns with faces thus disfigured, they fled in panic. Their leaders, burning with rage, sent back some of their number to set fire to the monastery, and thus the heroic martyrs perished in the common ruin of their house. -A Calendar of Scottish Saints by Michael Barrett
reliquary: A container to hold or display religious relics.
benediction n. [mass noun] the utterance of a blessing, especially at the end of a religious service. (Benediction) (in the Roman Catholic Church) a service in which the congregation is blessed with the sacrament. [count noun] a prayer asking for divine blessing. the state of being blessed. late Middle English: via Old French from Latin benedictio(n-), from benedicere ‘wish well, bless’, from bene ‘well’ + dicere ‘say’.
We do not believe in the reality of Olympus, so the ancient Greek gods live on in us as symptoms. We no longer have thunderbolts of Zeus, we have headaches. We no longer have the arrows of Eros we have angina pains. We no longer have the ecstasy of Dionysus, we have addictive behavior. Even though we no longer recognize the gods we experience their powerful forces.-Carl Jung
sexton: A church official who looks after a church and its graveyard and may act
as a gravedigger and bell-ringer.
I can only conjure up one god cult that believed the universe would cease to exist if its singing ever stopped. All of its members perished in an avalanche thousands of years back, of course. The universe, to my knowledge, has not. -Maggie Clark, Saying the Names (free to read online)
Lucas was born into the Lunar Temple, a group of Americans, most from the Southwest, who believed that the Moon was a part of the Earth that was broken off in an ancient cataclysm, and that humans were devolved from more pure creatures who now lived in vast, spiral cities below the satellite’s surface. These beings were building monstrous engines two hundred miles across on the dark side of the Moon that, on the Day of Joining, they would use to bring the Moon hurtling back to Earth. -Brian Francis Slattery, Spaceman Blues: A Love Song
Distrust is the central motivating factor behind why religious people dislike atheists, according to a new study led by University of British Columbia psychologists.
“Where there are religious majorities — that is, in most of the world — atheists are among the least trusted people,” says lead author Will Gervais, a doctoral student in UBC’s Dept. of Psychology. “With more than half a billion atheists worldwide, this prejudice has the potential to affect a substantial number of people.”…
“This antipathy is striking, as atheists are not a coherent, visible or powerful social group,” says Gervais, who co-authored the study with UBC Associate Prof. Ara Norenzayan and Azim Shariff of the University of Oregon. The study is titled, Do You Believe in Atheists? Distrust is Central to Anti-Atheist Prejudice…
The religious behaviors of others may provide believers with important social cues, the researchers say. “Outward displays of belief in God may be viewed as a proxy for trustworthiness, particularly by religious believers who think that people behave better if they feel that God is watching them,” says Norenzayan. “While atheists may see their disbelief as a private matter on a metaphysical issue, believers may consider atheists’ absence of belief as a public threat to cooperation and honesty.” -Science Daily
The Pennsylvania Quakers initially introduced the concept of reforming criminals through time spent under confinement. The Quakers built a small prison, which was comprised of sixteen individual and fully isolated cells. This new concept was intended to achieve reform by forcing criminals to serve out their entire sentence in complete isolation and silence. The criminals were left only with a Holy Bible and the reformers believed that this would help them to achieve penance. It was from this practice that the word “penitentiary” was cast into modern society. Michael Esslinger, Alcatraz: A Definitive History of the Penitentiary Years
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