If all the wooden relics alleged to be parts of the “true cross”—the apparatus on which a supposed Jesus was said to have been crucified—were genuine, you could carve Mount Rushmore out of them. They are, one and all, phony.
Yet people treat them as real and revere them. In fact, when Charles and Camilla are crowned as the King and Queen of England on Saturday, May 6 (they’re already in effect King and Queen), the ceremony will receive God’s blessing—from a relic donated by the Vatican. Click on the BBC screenshot below to read.
From the article (bolding is the BBC’s):
Fragments said to be from the cross on which Jesus was crucified will be included in a newly made Cross of Wales used at the head of the coronation procession in Westminster Abbey.
The relics of what is known as the True Cross were given to King Charles by Pope Francis, as a coronation gift.
The cross uses Welsh materials such as slate, reclaimed wood, and silver from the Royal Mint in Llantrisant.
King Charles hammered the hallmark onto the silver used in the cross.
The announcement about the new cross is a reminder that, alongside the pomp and pageantry, the coronation on 6 May will be a religious ceremony.
Of course that’s why they cry, “God save the King/Queen”, for they assume that God will hear. But of course he doesn’t hear, and that was proved by SCIENCE. In the first test of the efficacy of intercessory prayer, Francis Galton—a cousin of Charles Darwin—determined the longevity of Britain’s royals and compared it to the longevity of people in similar situations of well being. He figured that since millions of people pray each week for the health of the King or Queen, they should on average live longer than, say, landed gentry.
Nope. As this article notes,
Just for the record as examples of [Galton’s] data, the 97 cases of members of the Royal family were recorded as having an average life span of 64.04 years, the 945 members of the clergy in his sample having an average lifespan of 66.49 years and the 1,632 members of the gentry a life span average of 70.22 years. While we can detect a satirical flavour to Galton’s study and despite obvious individual exceptions such as Queen Victoria, or to bring the cases up to date, the Queen Mother and the present Queen, it is hard to avoid the inevitable conclusion that this form of stylised prayer of petition does not always get the desired result.
Since then there have been other studies of the power of intercessory prayer, including one on recovery of cardiac patients that was funded by the Templeton Foundation. The results of all of these? Nada, zip, zilch. Prayer doesn’t help kings live longer nor people recover from surgery or illness.
The conclusion? Petitionary, intercessory prayer doesn’t work, either because God isn’t listening, is listening but doesn’t care, or, most likely, doesn’t exist. (This must have severely disappointed the people at Templeton.)
Yet the charade goes on. From the BBC again:
The cross, made by silversmith Michael Lloyd, is inscribed with the words of St David, patron saint of Wales. It is a gift from the King to the Church in Wales.
The coronation will be an Anglican service, but the prominent inclusion of a gift from the head of the Roman Catholic church reflects how other denominations and faiths will be represented.
Set into the silver cross will be two small wooden shards, originating from what is claimed to be the cross on which Jesus was crucified.
Such relics of the True Cross have been venerated for centuries, with pilgrimages made to churches where they are held.
At least the BBC adds this caveat:
There has also been long-standing scepticism about the volume and authenticity of such relics and whether they could all come from a single cross.
Well, the first thing they should do is some carbon dating on tiny bits of the “true cross”. It should be at least two millennia old, but that’s just a start, because we can get wood that old from several species of living trees, or from pieces of wood known to be ancient. But no, Charles plays along, even participating, as in the picture above, in the invasion of knavish Popery into the coronation.
The King will then be anointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury (an Anglican), and that’s supposed to be the Holy Moment when the face of God smiles on Charles III:
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who is conducting the service on 6 May, has highlighted how the heart of the coronation is a religious ceremony, likening it to the ordination of a priest.
In a newly-published official souvenir programme, the archbishop says that in the middle of all the “magnificence and pomp” is a moment of “stillness and simplicity” when the King is anointed with holy oil.
The archbishop says the anointing will see the King in a simple white shirt, rather than “robes of status” and he says the King will be “in the full knowledge that the task is difficult and he needs help”.
This is a moment not previously seen by the public, and did not form part of the television coverage at the coronation of the late Queen Elizabeth in 1953.
There has been speculation about whether or not it will be visible for next month’s ceremony, but current expectations suggests it will remain a private moment in the coronation proceedings.
In fact, the British public appears to be against government funding of the coronation, which is indeed largely funded by the state:
Alongside some opposition to the coronation from anti-monarchy groups, a survey on Tuesday raised questions about the level of support for public funding of the occasion.
The coronation is a state event, but a YouGov poll of 4,000 adults found that 51% were against the government paying for it, compared with 32% who supported state-funding, with the rest saying they “didn’t know”.
Among 18-24 year olds, 62% thought the government should not fund the coronation.
The amount that it will cost the government will not be revealed until after the event.
Of course! We don’t want people grousing about how all that pomp is coming out of their pockets. We want them to think that faith is playing a substantial role in the ascendancy of Charles to Britain’s throne.
31 thoughts on “God will save King Charles—with pieces of the True Cross”
Almost as soon as the crusaders invaded Moslem held lands, there was a
fanatically brisk trade in “holy” relics by enterprising merchants back to the
faithful in Europe which continued for several centuries.
The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch…
“Then, shalt thou count to three. No more. No less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, nor either count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out.”
The whole event could have been written by Monty Python given how ludicrous it is.
Ah, but what if I told you that it has been scientifically proven that the Church has the True Cross? In Mark Twain’s book “Innocents Abroad,” he relates how the Church did an experiment to verify the authenticity of the Cross–in the Third Century!
“We were shown the place where our Lord appeared to His mother after the Resurrection. Here, also, a marble slab marks the place where St. Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, found the crosses about three hundred years after the Crucifixion. According to the legend, this great discovery elicited extravagant demonstrations of joy. But they were of short duration. The question intruded itself: “Which bore the blessed Saviour, and which the thieves?” To be in doubt, in so mighty a matter as this — to be uncertain which one to adore — was a grievous misfortune. It turned the public joy to sorrow. But when lived there a holy priest who could not set to simple a trouble as this at rest? One of these soon hit upon a plan that would be a certain test. A noble lady lay very ill in Jerusalem. The wise priests ordered that the three crosses be taken to her bedside one at a time. It was done. When her eyes fell upon the first one, she uttered a scream that was heard beyond the Damascus Gate, and even upon the Mount of Olives, it was said, and then fell back in a deadly swoon. They recovered her and brought the second cross. Instantly she went into fearful convulsions, and it was with the greatest difficulty that six strong men could hold her. They were afraid, now, to bring in the third cross. They began to fear that possibly they had fallen upon the wrong crosses, and that the true cross was not with this number at all. However, as the woman seemed likely to die with the convulsions that were tearing her, they concluded that the third could do no more than put her out of her misery with a happy dispatch. So they brought it, and behold, a miracle! The woman sprang from her bed, smiling and joyful, and perfectly restored to health. When we listen to evidence like this, we cannot but believe. We would be ashamed to doubt, and properly, too. Even the very part of Jerusalem where this all occurred is there yet. So there is really no room for doubt.”
Heck — you too can have your own fragment of the True Cross — you can find ’em on eBay any time. I like this one — not just a piece of the Cross, but part of the Crown of Thorns as well! The current price is only $157 (plus shipping from Belgium). Considering its miraculous powers, can you afford not to buy it? And if someone out-bids you, just keep scrolling…
I see no evidence of coronation fever like there was when Liz was crowned. That was a time of austerity as well, but a very different world.
What do you mean? I’m looking forward to my day off.
You’re not THAT old Dom!
Our host recently enjoyed great meals not far from more holy relics in Paris. The Sainte Chapelle was erected to house a few more bits of the true cross, the crown of thorns, and the “holy sponge” (a particular favorite). Louis IX acquired these by paying off loans for Baldwin II (of Constantinople, sort of) who had pawned them to the Venetians. Venice itself also acquired lots of holy relics through the 4th Crusade, which it directed against the Christian city of Constantinople. [I have long had a nagging admiration for Venice, and its very old Doge Dandolo, because of this ingenious example of statesmanship.]
As a lukewarm monarchist of the foreign kind where it doesn’t cost us anything and provides some vestigial check on a dictatorial prime minister—at least he is not the State—, the coronation is where I will cough nervously while looking intently at a spider climbing the far wall and try to change the subject.
While I cannot cavil about the observations on the outright falsity of holy relics and lunacy of intercessory prayer, I think since Charles does believe and since he is the one being crowned, he can choose the details of the ceremony. I may think him mistaken in his beliefs, but I have to let him hold them freely, else he would be able to tell me my lack of belief is forbidden.
As a fan of international rugby “God Save the Whatsit” is by far my favourite anthem: it is easily the shortest.
And its always funny when the singer misses and then stumbles over the beginning.
Galton’s survey was flawed. The lyrics are “God save the King”, not “God save the King and his close relatives”. That said the phrase has been in use since the 10th century but an awful lot of English and British kings had sticky ends.
William II died in a hunting “accident”. Edward II, Richard II and Edward V* were murdered. Richard I died from wounds inflicted in a siege, Harold and Richard III died in battle. Henry V and Edward VI died young from illness.
Once the wording was adopted in the national anthem things seemed to quiet down a bit. Subsequent kings and queens tended to live longish lives, so maybe there is something to it.
*not formally crowned, so not formally requested to be saved.
Forgot to say Charles I was executed.
I think he just looked at kings and queens, but can’t remember.
Charles 1 (who rather lost his head) may have brought down the average lifespan for
royalty, thus contributing to its six-year shorter length than that of the gentry in Galton’s sample.
A lot of kings died much younger than Charles I. Edward V, for example was in his teens. Also it seems a lot of the Saxon and Danish kings died in their twenties.
It wasn’t just kings and queens because there haven’t been anywhere near 97 monarchs of England. That said, I just took another look at the article and it looks like I misread it. He wasn’t looking into the efficacy of “God Save the King/Queen” but prayer in general. He just assumed the royals were prayed for more than commoners
What can I say, except for:
Willie, Willie, Harry, Stee,
Harry, Dick, John, Harry three;
One two three Neds, Richard two,
Harrys four five six, … then who?
Edwards four five, Dick the bad,
Harrys (twain),VII VIII Ned six (the lad);
Mary, Bessie, James you ken,
Then Charlie, Charlie, James again;
Will and Mary, Anna Gloria,
Georges four,I II III IV Will four, Victoria;
Edward seven, George and Ted,
George the sixth, now Liz instead.
Of course, now it must be updated to end:
‘George the sixth, then Liz instead,
Now good King Charles is at our head.’
I’m no poet, as you can tell.
Very good. I learned them a while ago and I found it really helps me to put English/British historical events in context.
There are 41 monarchs in Christopher Moss’s list, another 10 if you take it back to the first King of England, Athelstan (I’ve never understood why people only begin counting at William the Bastard). Possibly Galton was assigning each of them a consort to make a king/queen pair to make a number approximately double the number of monarchs.
1066 and all that. Probably centuries of propaganda designed to ensure that William and his progeny are the rightful monarchs.
Probably helped that kings eventually stopped leading troops into battle personally. Until then, “God save the King!” (and his horse) must have carried a special urgency.
Henry VI was likely murdered as well.
Galton has a very flawed assumption where he’s only counting positive prayers. What about all the people who hate royalty and privately (though passionately) pray for them to die? And how does God determine which group to listen to, anyway? Is it just majority vote? Or does strength of conviction matter too? (how much is a radical anti-monarchist worth versus a bunch of people just thinking mildly nice thoughts?). Either way, one group isn’t getting their prayers granted.
Veneration of the True Cross, as a positive healing artifact, has always struck me as very odd. A cross was an instrument of torture and death. It’s as if someone attributed healing power to fragments of the bullet which killed Lincoln, or MLK, or John F. Kennedy.
When I was in Catholic school, a nun showed our class her glass encased pieces of the True Cross After we all had a look, I raised my hand. “Sister, I bet if you had all the pieces of the True Cross, you’d have enough wood for a lumber yard”. And how was my class clowning self rewarded for this accurate observation? I was on the receiving end of a beat down. Wasn’t my first time .
I would say the king shouldn’t accept gifts from a child trafficking gang, but then again his brother will be at the ceremony.
Speaking of Charles and nonsense, maybe you should have a look at and do a little blogging on a speech he gave to the Oxford Union. All about how we can’t trust science.
I long been amused at the thought of the Holy Prepuce, the foreskin of Jesus-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Prepuce