On eBay right now: Nails used to crucify Christ. Someone alert the pope. I’m sure the Vatican’s reserve of nails from the true cross is running low. There were only thirty or so left at the end of the nineteenth century.
Starting bid of
€500.00, Buy it Now for only
€2.60 for shipping and handling! (Foreign shipping may be more, especially in countries that charge customs duty on spiritual worth.)
According to the buyers’ questions at the bottom of the page, some people are a little skeptical; one even asks for a DNA test. The seller claims only that he is an “expert seller” and he rightly points out that a DNA test wouldn’t exactly establish these objects’ provenance. Dan Brown should take note.
Regardless, as all good medievalists know, it would be impossible for anyone to have all three nails from the Crucifixion. St. Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, found all three some three-hundred years after the fact, but she found a use for two of them. As this public domain translation of the Golden Legend relates:
When Helena had the cross of Jesu Christ, and saw that she had not the nails, then she sent to the bishop Quiriacus that he should go to the place and seek the nails. Then he did dig in the earth so long that he found them shining as gold; then bare he them to the queen, and anon as she saw them she worshipped them with great reverence. Then gave S. Helena a part of the cross to her son and that other part she left in Jerusalem, closed in gold, silver, and precious stones. And her son bare the nails to the emperor, and the emperor did do set them in his bridle and in his helm when he went to battle. This rehearseth Eusebius, which, was bishop of Cæsarea, how be it that others say otherwise.
So, buyer beware. Unless two of the nails you’re buying are shaped like a bridle and a helmet, you’ve not got the real deal.
The Catholic Encyclopedia article on the Holy Nails notes that most of the thirty holy nails that survived the Middle Ages were either complete frauds or just copies. Fortunately for all you relic venerators out there, you could transfer holiness from the actual nails to copies, either by touching the copies to the original nail, or by including filings from the real nail in the metal you used for your copy.
Unfortunately, according to the DOCTRINE OF CAPITALIZATION, everything in this auction seller’s description is TRUE, so please disregard all of the abovementioned doubt.