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Cathedral's 'Jesus crib' relics branded 'medieval tomfoolery'

PUBLISHED: 15:12 01 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:51 02 January 2020

Relics said to be fragments of Jesus' manger were put on festive display at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich. Picture: Lesley Buckley

Relics said to be fragments of Jesus' manger were put on festive display at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich. Picture: Lesley Buckley

Lesley Buckley

Relics said to have formed part of Jesus' manger put on festive display at Norwich's Catholic Cathedral have drawn a mixed reaction from worshippers.

Father David Paul, dean of the RC Cathedral of St John the Baptist. Picture: SubmittedFather David Paul, dean of the RC Cathedral of St John the Baptist. Picture: Submitted

The Cathedral of St John the Baptist said thousands of people had taken up the opportunity to venerate the nativity relics during masses over Christmas and on New Year's Day.

Encased in an ornate stand it is claimed they include fragments of the manger itself.

The Cathedral's Christmas newsletter states: "Our reliquary contains fragments of the manger, the swaddling clothes, hay and a crumb of the cave wall. Come up after any of the Masses and the priest will say a short prayer of blessing and give you the opportunity to venerate these holy relics with a kiss."

The Cathedral Dean, Father David Paul, said it was the first time the relics had gone on display after they had been given to the cathedral when two convents amalgamated.

He said: "The sisters gave me the reliquary, so this is the first time we have had them, but they belong to the cathedral now.

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"It is something that is quite rare now and we feel it is a great privilege because it is very special."

But the addition of the reliquary has drawn a mixed response from parishioners. One who preferred not to be named said: "Just when you thought you'd left the Middle Ages behind along comes the uber traditional Bishop of East Anglia to ask you to venerate with a kiss items which are clearly not what is claimed.

"I'm a parishioner but not one easily swayed by such medieval tomfoolery which borders on sacrilege."

However the Cathedral's Facebook post about the relics drew more positive responses.

Roger Smith commented: "Back to faithful times. Showing a reliquary. A very welcome return. Hope for the church yet."

Another, Lucy Pinnington, added: "What a blessing. Thank you."

Father Paul said: "It has been a very blessed time and thousands of people have taken up the opportunity over the Chritsmas period.

"It is a way of associating yourself. You are not worshipping them, it is like looking at a photograph or belongings of a family member who died years ago, it brings them to mind."

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