The Letter from Alexius Comnenus

clip_image001In, Were the radiocarbon dating laboratories duped by a computer hacker?: Revised #3, Stephen Jones lists this item as part of his evolving historical proof which is part of his proof that computer hackers altered the carbon dating results back in 1988.

1092 A letter dated 1092 purporting to be from the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus (1056-1118) to Robert II of Flanders(c.1065-1111)[9], appealed for help to prevent Constantinople falling into the hands of the pagans[10]. The letter listed the relics in Constantinople including, "the linen cloths [linteamina] found in the sepulchre after his Resurrection"[11]. Although the letter is probably a forgery, concocted at the time for propaganda purposes, this need not invalidate its description of the relics then in the imperial collection[12].

Forgery need not invalidate its description of the relics? That’s true but . . . well anyway, we should look at this list. Does incredulity matter? What is in the list?

For it is better that you should have Constantinople than the pagans because in that [city] precious relics of the Lord, to wit:

  1. the pillar to which he was bound
  2. the lash with which he was scourged
  3. the scarlet robe in which he was arrayed
  4. the crown of thorns with which he was crowned
  5. the reed he held in his hands, in place of a scepter
  6. the garments of which he was despoiled before the cross
  7. the larger part of the wood of the cross on which he was crucified
  8. the nails with which he was affixed
  9. the linen cloths found in the sepulcher after his resurrection
  10. the twelve baskets of remnants from the five loaves and the two fishes
  11. the entire head of St. John the Baptist with the hair and the beard
  12. the relics or bodies of many of the Innocents, of certain prophets and apostles, of martyrs and, especially, of the protomartyr St. Stephen, and of confessors and virgins, these latter being of such great number that we have omitted writing about each of them individually.

How do I convince a skeptic?  Let’s see: I have a document that tells us that twelve baskets of remnants from the five loaves and two fishes were in Constantinople’s imperial collection sometime in the last half of the 11th century. The document is probably a forgery, developed for propaganda purposes, but that doesn’t matter. And the head of John the Baptist, that was there too. And the shroud. 

14 thoughts on “The Letter from Alexius Comnenus”

  1. Here is the list of relics sent by Latin Emperor Baldwin II to king Louis IX ( via César Barta’s article ):

    1. – The crown of thorns as the most valuable
    2. – A piece of the cross
    3. – Blood of Christ
    4. – The nappies of the infant Jesus
    5. – Another piece of the cross
    6. – Blood from a picture of Christ
    7. – The chain
    8. – Sacred cloth inserted in a picture (Mandylion)
    9. – Stone from the tomb
    10. – Milk of the Virgin Mary
    11. – The spear
    12. – A victorious cross (this is most probably reference to Titulus)
    13. – The purple mantle
    14. – The reed
    15. – The sponge
    16. – A part of the shroud (sudarii) in which Christ’s body was wrapped in
    the sepulchre
    17. – The towel used to dry the Apostles’ feet
    18. – Moses’ rod
    19. – A part of John the Baptist’s head
    20. – St. Blas’ head
    21. – St. Clement’s head
    22. – St. Simeon’s head.

    The more you study the topic of relics, the more convinced you are that the major part of them may indeed be authentic -or “authentic” in some sense, and they are not simple forgeries for naive believers. Even the so called “milk of Virgin Mary”.

    As to the Shroud, we can be certain that there were at least three distinct burial cloth stored in the Imperial collection of relics in Constantinople -one of them was most probably our Shroud of Turin. I have described this in my article written (in polish) for,749.htm

  2. “The more you study the topic of relics, the more convinced you are that the major part of them may indeed be authentic -or “authentic” in some sense.”

    Er…. not in my case.

      1. Preconvictions out, instead I advise to trace back the history of several relics -and next think there think for a while: are there really any rational reasons that would certainly exclude their possible authenticity?

        If yes, what are they?
        If not, is it possible, or maybe even likely that those items could surviwe from the times of Christ?

        Even the “milk of Virgin” has some rational explanation -in some sense…

  3. No it doesn’t.
    Sorry, OK, I think you’ll have your work cut out to rationise even the most rational of these, let alone the nappies of the infant Jesus, or the 2000 year old rod of Moses.

    1. 2000 year old rod of Moses is not such a big problem. Similarly, it is not a big problem for infant nappies to survive (assuming they were not simply thrown out, as the baby grows).

      Still don’t know what actually is the so-called “Milk of the Virgin”?

    2. One plausible explanation might be Constantine Porphyrogenitus’ wet nurse. Extremely rare for virgins to lactate, unless there’s some kind of hormonal upset.

  4. Two of the commenters come from an anglo-saxon background, one from an Eastern European region. Such differences in approach are inevitable.

  5. Some relics are obvious forgeries, but those associated with the Passion may well be authentic. If some accounts are accurate, the Jews would keep everything associated with a violent death in order to preserve the life’s blood for the general resurrection. So the crown of thorns, the Shroud, the cross, etc. may have been preserved. That may be why St. Helena found the cross and other relics in the Holy Sepulchre-they were buried with Jesus on Good Friday.

  6. Hello O.K! Nice to see more people from East Europe. Oh, I wonder where does one include piece of Holy Cross (around kept in Serbian monastery on MT. Atos, with a crystal made capsul that holds the blood of Christ… It came there after the 1204. as a gift to prince – monk St. Sava, when his brother took the crown from Nicaea.
    Anyway, the best description comes from the Antonius of Novgorod…

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