I hope that some Vatican committee is planning to commemorate, preferably in grand fashion, the upcoming septuacentennial of Saint Agnes Blannbekin’s death.
Frankly, it’s not her death that was exceptional; she died of old age in her convent in Vienna, at 71.
However, her life as a thirteenth-century Bride of Christ — a nun — was nothing short of spectacular. You see, for decades, Agnes had lively hallucinations of being visited by Jesus or another member of the Holy Trinity. Any of these cherished guests inflamed her womanly passions in the most delightful way.
Luckily for us, Agnes’ visions were enthusiastically transcribed by her confessor, the Franciscan monk Ermenrich, and it is from his notes that we can see why Catholics became so smitten with her. Talk about loving Jesus!
In one recurring vision, Agnes felt the foreskin of the Savior in her mouth.
Crying and with compassion, she began to think about the foreskin of Christ, where it may be located [after the Resurrection]. And behold, soon she felt with the greatest sweetness on her tongue a little piece of skin alike the skin in an egg, which she swallowed. After she had swallowed it, she again felt the little skin on her tongue with sweetness as before, and again she swallowed it. And this happened to her about a hundred times. And when she felt it so frequently, she was tempted to touch it with her finger. And when she wanted to do so, that little skin went down her throat on its own. And it was told to her that the foreskin was resurrected with the Lord on the day of resurrection. And so great was the sweetness of tasting that little skin that she felt in all [her] limbs and parts of the limbs a sweet transformation.
If Sister Agnes got thirsty, a “refreshing spiritual drink” from the spear wound of Jesus was just a vision away. Many of her hallucinations involved her delicate sense of touch; other than feeling the Holy Prepuce on her tongue, she also claimed she could sometimes sense being kissed on the cheeks by the Lamb of God.
But nothing beat the visitations from the Lord (or the Lord Jesus). Ermenrich must have been fanning himself when he scribbled what the nun told him:
Agnes was filled with an excitement in her chest every time that God visited her that was so intense that it went through her body and that it burned as a result, not in a painful but in a most pleasurable manner.
Now, I know the Catholic Church has a reputation as an irredeemably misogynistic institution, but that could change if the padres play their cards right. What they ought to do is market the hell out of the Saint Agnes septuacentennial, such that, with any luck, spinsters and dissatisfied housewives all over the world will want to join the faith, sighing, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
CORRECTION: The original headline on this post stated that Sister Agnes had been canonized (made a saint) by the Church. Although there are many online and printed references to her as “Saint Agnes,” it’s been brought to my attention that throngs of believers have often proclaimed their own Saints (who could become very popular) without the Vatican’s sign-off. This was most likely the case with Agnes Blannekin.
As is pointed out on the “Holy Prepuce” Wikipedia page I linked to right after the first quote, the Roman Catholic Church got so sick of (and embarrassed by) all the theological
snipping sniping over which of Christ’s many foreskins was the genuine article, that it ruled in 1900 that
anyone thenceforward writing or speaking of the Holy Prepuce would be excommunicated. In 1954, after much debate, the punishment was changed to the harsher degree of excommunication, vitandi (shunned).
I have to concede — with apologies for my earlier error — that it seems unlikely that the Catholic Church will commemorate the Viennese foreskin-muncher any time soon. A terrible pity, that.
[illustration by Milo Manara via the Holy Prepuce]