28 May 2011

Now this is an auction I wish I knew about before

The BBC (and a fair few other sources) report that the severed head said to be that of the patron saint of genital disease will go on auction in Ireland tomorrow.

The skull is allegedly that of St Vitalis of Assisi, an Italian Benedictine monk from the 14th century.

It belonged to an Anglo-Irish family from County Louth, and is housed in a Queen Anne case dating from the 17th century.
It is unclear exactly how his head may have ended up in Ireland.
Auctioneer Damien Matthews, who is selling the macabre item on Sunday, said that the family think an ancestor brought it back from the grand tour of Europe in the 18th century.

St Vitalis was born in Umbria, Italy, and is said to have lived an immoral and licentious youth. In an attempt to atone for his early sins, he later undertook pilgrimages to shrines throughout Europe, eventually entering a Benedictine monastery. After leaving the monastery, he lived the remainder of his life as a hermit near Assisi.

He died in 1370, and word of his sanctity soon spread due to reports of numerous miracles performed on those with bladder and genital disorders.

Hmm Now the skull of the patron saint of embarrassing afflictions would be the perfect conversation piece! It is a shame that there seems to be no reference to Vitalis actually being an official patron saint of peeing razorblades.

Saint Fiacre seems to be one of the main saints with a responsibility for cock rot. Good old St George and Symphorian of Autun are also invoked in respect of syphilis.

Meanwhile Aloysius Gonzaga, Therese of Lisieux and Peregrine Laziosi have the watching brief for AIDS.

NO mention of Vitalis of Assisi sadly. Perhaps he can be the patron saint of pomades. After all there is a hair tonic named after thim!

If you are interested the auction takes place at Annesbrook House in Duleek, County Meath tomorrow. The head, holy or otherwise, is valued at between 800 and 1,200 euros.


Syncopated Eyeball said...

I bet it goes for more than that. What a beautiful and macabre thing, complete with story of ironic proportions.

CherryPie said...

I think I will give it a miss. It would be talking point, but I think it would give me the creeps!

jams o donnell said...

It is certainly a curiosity SE. I daresay it will go for a lot more than the estimate

It's definitely strange Cherie. Seriously it is out of my price range anyway!

Anonymous said...

In actual fact the head is most certainly NOT that of Vitalis of Assisi. The Latin abbreviations below the skull make that very clear. It may be the head of some other St Vitalis (there are quite a lot of them) but not the one from Assisi with the patronage of genital disease.

jams o donnell said...

That does not surprise me in the least Anon. I know there are a fair few saints by that name. Could be on of them of the purchaser was coned of course!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

So sweet! It will make a perfect conversation piece for one's coffee table. I don't have a coffee table.

jams o donnell said...

Well you will just have to get one when you buy it mon ami!