Important History Question: Where Did Jesus's Foreskin Go?
I have genuinely no idea what happened to my foreskin. I'd like to think it found a nice little home. In my mind, my foreskin went on a Pixar-like journey after it fell to the floor in the hospital room. Later that night, it was picked up by a sassy little mouse who draped it around his neck only to find it turned into a magical scarf that gave him the power, and more importantly, the confidence, to pursue his dreams as the best rodent chocolatier in the world. There is, no doubt, my foreskin became a scarf for a chocolate-making mouse.
There is, however, a ton of doubt about what happened to Jesus' foreskin. And that shit gets a whole lot wilder than the journey my bad boy could have ever gone on.
Not So Cut and Dry
The early days of Jesus' roaming foreskin are fraught with controversy. Because there's absolutely no way of knowing whether or not some weirdo at the time of his circumcision decided to pluck that foreskin off of the floor and slide it into his pocket and bolt for the door like a petty criminal lifting Skittles at the CVS. Or, if in a visual that's even more hilarious to me, someone just grabbed it, leaned back in their Biblical office chair, aimed for the trash can, and lobbed a perfect goose-necked Kobe of Big J's fresh foreskin into the wastebasket never to be seen again. We obviously will never know what happened the day of Jesus' potential circumcision, but that hasn't stopped it from popping up all over the course of history in the weirdest possible ways.
The first real instances of the supposed foreskin, also known as the Holy Prepuce, started popping up in earnest in the Middle Ages. This was around the time that relics were becoming a big deal. Did drunken Jesus take one bite out of a Stouffer's French Bread Pizza at your place one night and pass out and leave it on your table? That pizza's getting boxed up and placed on an altar and people are making pilgrimages from far and wide, so come check it out.
And when Charlemagne was made emperor in 800, he repaid the Pope in foreskin. Claiming to have found the relic on his journeys through the Holy Land, Charlemagne dropped the foreskin into the Pope's outstretched hand presumably with a cheeky little wink and said something like, "That's genuine, real-deal foreskin right there, baby." Shit popped off after this. Because relics were becoming so popular, and because it was super easy to find weird gross loose skin lying around anywhere in the Middle Ages, countless others stepped up claiming to have the real turtle's neck of Jesus.
Jesus is Heading Out
At one time, as many as 18 different towns claimed to be home to the real foreskin. Because these relics could be such moneymakers for the church, many would do anything to put themselves on the map of a pilgrimage, even if that meant stretching dubious claims about the authenticity of their particular cut of Jesus. How pissed are the kids when they find out half their summer's being wasted to take a road trip to see a chunk of Jesus' dick? Out there loading up the medieval minivan for an arduous, month-long journey to see what's most likely just a piece of skin that fell off the priest into his morning stew because I imagine skin dropped from old-timey people like leaves in winter.
Though there were countless fakes, it was Charlemagne's gift that remained the most "legitimate" and it was housed at the Vatican for centuries following its arrival. I've always pictured the Vatican to be like that guy on Craigslist who's always looking for something specific and deeply unsettling. (He's looking for exactly 17 iguanas, two used contact lenses, right eye only, and a katana.) The Vatican is that Craigslist guy. If you've got something weird, they want it in there.
The most credible cut of Jesus was boxed up and placed before an altar at the Vatican where it hung out for a while until Rome was sacked in the 1500s. During the madness, one soldier went for the most peculiar of looting choices: foreskin. Most of these guys are walking out of Rome with treasure and fancy Bibles and big pope hats all that good shit, but this guy went straight to the Vatican's equivalent of the DVD section and whistled through the front doors with season two of Burn Notice and that's it. With his prize in tow, the soldier barely even make it to a town just north of Rome, Calcata, before he was captured and the theft protection agents yanked that foreskin back. It's here in Calcata where the foreskin would begin its next journey, and it's where things would fly entirely off the rails.
Hard Times in Calcata
With Jesus' foreskin nicely settled in its new home in Calcata, the pilgrimages started pouring in. The town became one of the go-to stops on anybody's Kenny Chesney's Big Old Summer Christian Road Trip Presented by Mike's Hard Lemonade and this tiny little town had finally become more than a blip on the map. That's not to say that there weren't those around this time that still doubted the authenticity of the foreskin, perhaps most famously, 17th-century theologian Leo Allatius. See, Leo had a pretty reasonable second guess as to where the real foreskin of Jesus was. And it ain't in some box in Calcata. It's above your head. Way above. Allatius believed that the rings of Saturn were actually just, you know, Jesus' cock skin. That's called science, you idiots.
It was his belief that when Jesus rolled out of here and floated to the heavens, his foreskin tagged along behind him and took a little detour. Kind of like going to the food court with a friend. Jesus had his destination in mind, he was going to heaven. But his foreskin? He's going to cruise over to Sbarro and meet up with you later on. I want to get on Leo for such a stupid theory, but I kind of dig it? That's the old-world way where when you can't explain something, you could just look up to space and be like, "I don't know. Look at that shit. It's up there or whatever."
Back in Calcata, things rolled on pretty well. The foreskin brought in big business for the town, and all was well, until the Vatican decided in the early 1900s that they no longer wanted to associate themselves with the Calcata foreskin. After another foreskin emerged the Vatican started to clam up about the whole authenticity of any of Jesus' many foreskins. So they did the rational thing in the situation, they decided that anyone who so much as spoke about the foreskin would face excommunication from the church. Calcata went from one of Yelp's highest rated pilgrimage hot stops, to the holiest of one-star ratings overnight. So what do you do when the Vatican cuts you off? You just keep parading that foreskin around anyway. And what does the Vatican do when you keep that shit up? Well, they just might assemble an Oceans 11-style team for a classic Catholic caper to claim Christ's dong curtain.
He Is Risen
Calcata powered through their new restrictions and still proudly displayed their relic every year during their New Year's Day procession. I can get behind this. I find New Year's Eve and New Year's Day to be some of the worst of the major holidays, but if I can haul my hungover ass outside and slip Jesus' foreskin over my finger like a wedding band, I might have to reconsider. Though Calcata's defiance of the church went mostly unnoticed throughout the early 1900s, sometime in the '60s, it started to gain more traction. With the ceremony being written up in local papers, the Vatican once again turned its Eye of Sauron to the crumbling old town and took greater notice. So the local priest did what you have to do when someone's out there eyeballin' your precious foreskin -- you take your foreskin and go home.
The foreskin spent decades in its new home, probably with tube socks and tighty whities as neighbors, still making its way to its yearly festivities, until it up and vanished in 1983. That year, the priest had to take to the podium and lay this on a sea of disappointed foreskin fans: "This year, the holy relic will not be exposed to the devotion of the faithful. It has vanished. Sacrilegious thieves have taken it from my home." This is where things get hazy. There are plenty of theories about what actually happened to the foreskin from here, but the most prevalent center on the heist being the work of the Vatican itself. And why not? They've got the power to be the schoolyard bully in the cafeteria. But instead of roughing you up for that pack of Gushers, they're giving you a goddamn swirly until foreskin starts raining out of your pockets.
Though their potential method for the potential theft is up in the air, many of the locals believe that the priest himself was pressured into delivering the relic to them. However, there are those that hold the idea that if the priest himself didn't cave, then the Vatican must have sent their foreskin task force to steal that thing back. I absolutely love the image of the priests in the Vatican control room planning the heist. A bunch of beeping screens and overwrought technology like the setup in a Mission Impossible movie, but it's just a chunk of foreskin rotating on screen as the Pope says, "enhance" and his nerdy tech guy zooms in closer. I also picture that Ving Rhames is there, in the full robes but also a Kangol hat, puffing on a stogie. He leans back in his chair with the 3D foreskin spinning on screen and says with a smile, "Oh yeah, this is gonna be one hard job."
No matter if this was actually the work of the Vatican or just the priest accidentally losing part of Jesus' dick in the wash with his underwear, the fact is that the foreskin hasn't shown up since. I like to believe that we'll have another resurgence. If this story has shown us one thing, it's that you can't keep Jesus' foreskin down forever. No matter what, it pops back up. The next time it does, I just hope Ving Rhames is wearing it as an earring in the next Mission Impossible movie.