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Carpentras cathedral's Holy Bit

The Holy Bit | Marianne Casamance / CC-BY-SA
Cathedral Epidemic Relic Legend Sorcery Saint-Siffrein cathedral in Carpentras

Story of nails

What’s the treasure, here? A relic of the Holy Bit or Saint Bit (Saint Mors ou saint Clou in French), made with two nails used for Jesus crucifixion.

Two nails? Is there another one?

The tradition says emperor Constantin’s mother, Helena, found those nails during a dig in Jerusalem.

She threw one in the sea during a storm and with the two others, she made a bit for her son’s horse.

The legend even says Helena or Constantin themselves gave the bit to saint Siffrein… a bit we find on the city’s blazon!

People worshipped the relic in Constantinople until 1204, until one day a Crusader probably coming from Provence brought it back to Carpentras.

Demons and oxidation

The bit had big magical powers: he could not become oxidized and could not be gilded.

But better than that, this bit could, like Siffrein’s relics, cure possessed people!

Hey, in 1640, it drove out several demons from the body of a man called Antoine!

A talisman against the plague

Of course, the bit was used in case of plague epidemic: even merchants sold small replicas of the bit. People wore them on their clothes in order to drive back the illness…

Well, in the 17th century, people weren’t very lucky, with plagues: at that time, 3 000 souls died in Carpentras…

On the contrary, in 1721, during the plague of Marseille, nothing! People was spared… thanks to the Bit?!

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!