dem dry bones

King Philip 2 of Spain had a fabulous collection of relics. At the end of his life the collection amounted to some 7,000 items, incuding ten whole bodies, 144 heads, 306 arms and legs, thousands of bones, body parts and secondary relics, as well as the usual fragments of the True Cross, the Crown of Thorns etc., most of which were encased in rich gold settings.
Jesus' swaddling clothes & Mary's veil

(Jesus’ swaddling clothes and Mary’s veil)

In 1598, when he lay on his deathbed, Philip turned to his relics for relief from his agony. Racked by gout and fever, his terrible pain made it impossible for him to leave his bed and he lay dying in his own excrement (where’s nursemyra when you need her?).


His bedroom was filled with holy images and crucifixes and he sent for the arm of St Vincent and a knee of St Sebastian to soothe his inflamed joints.

L0013467 Pseudo-Galen, Anathomia; WMS 290

400 years later Franco ended his life clutching the arm of St Theresa of Avila which he had taken with him everywhere he went.***

trigger finger by Al Farrow

Trigger Finger by Al Farrow (see more of his work here)

*** I read this in Philipp Blom’s book “To Have and To Hold” which seems to be backed up by this recollection

Published in: on July 12, 2009 at 9:26 am  Comments (32)  

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32 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What good are ten whole bodies, and 306 arms and legs if they won’t change the bed for the poor man? I’ll take a live Nurse Myra any day.

  2. thanks silverstar ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. The only arm I would want present should I lay dying, would be that of the barman passing me my last pint.

    However, I will say that on occasion, I have often lay in my bed and wished for a little head.

    • I’m sure you only have to say the word to Mrs Jimmy and she’ll oblige….

  4. sucks to be a dead dude in spain… some old guy, covered in poo, hanging on to your bits… another fine argument for cremation!

  5. Viking funerals for everyone. If I’m floating out to sea and on fire Spainards can’t take my body parts.

  6. Ol Philip shouda sent fer St. John’s wort.

  7. couldn’t he used one of those extra hands to wipe his ass.

    • I’ll give you comment of the day for that one bearman

  8. I was thinking of cuddling my teddy bear ….. or is that a bit dramatic?

  9. Not to take away from the significance of King Phillip’s relics or anything, but did you check out the unit on that officer?

    • Did I what! And that’s nursemyra lying beneath him..

  10. In the end anything that causes any measure of relief to the sufferer, cannot be questioned. If it gives relief then it serves a benefit. Be it the supposed body part of a saint, of a cuddly teddy bear, of a photograph of a loved one or a tin whistle from a Cracker Jacks box.

    I don’t question what brings relief to the dying, for in the end we all die and so will I.

  11. He also sought out the very first commercial version of operation.

  12. Makes my collection of stuffed and mounted gerbils look rather tame.

  13. I carry a bone with me every where I go… ok so thats a lie, but I used to have a rabbits foot when I was a kid… maybe it was jesuses rabbit.

    • You carry a bone with you everywhere you go? Doesn’t that get painful after a while?

      • Sometimes, but if you kep it moist its really no… ok I’m just going to put an end to this now…

  14. I have the merkin of St Theresa of Avila in my relic collection. Its a great comfort to me and cured me of shingles.

    • ooh, you may have just robbed bearman of the comment crown

  15. I have the TRUE merkin of St Theresa! fundamentajelly’s is a FAKE! (Plus I have Jesus’ sandal and the Rod of Aaron – courtesy of Peter Popoff)

  16. wowsers! what a great man! such wondrous things!


  17. I am a pack rat when it comes to most things in life but I don’t think the police or my wife for that matter would enjoy me collecting all of those body parts. If I die one day, my last words will hopefully be “Damn, where did that U.F.O and laser beam come from.”

  18. I’ve often thought an extra arm or two would be handy.

  19. Those Spaniards seem rather armless – – –

  20. Being a King ain’t what it is cracked up to be .. I am signing myself up for Gimcrack ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. and yet i return each day to read the bizarre horrors of our ancient past..where in hell do you find all this stuff? you’ve definitely found your niche nursemyra.

    • endless net trawling. One of these days I’ll resume life outside the confines of a computer…..

  22. I’m rather worried about what my old relic bones will be being used for long after I’m gone now …

  23. toting body parts seems like a good idea, but in actuality, its just one more thing for crooks to steal. i mean, everything costs and arm and a leg anymore…

  24. I know where there is a skeleton. Just like everyone else, I have a few in my closet.

    Thomas ๐Ÿ™‚

    (Not literally, of course.)

  25. What a terrible way to go. And to think that clutching body parts was thought by him to offer comfort. Not the way I’d want to go.

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