Dublin Ireland March 2012, "Yes, Officer they stole my heart."
You say, "She stole your heart. Well I wouldn't worry. You'll get over it, sir."
"No, no you don't understand officer. It wasn't a she it was a gang and it wasn't exactly 'my' heart."
"But, it was someone's heart?"
"Yes, officer and it was 900 years old."
Beg your pardon, Laddie. You been in the Guinness again?"
The Purloined Heart-The dialogue above is an imagined conversation concerning the theft of a nine-hundred year old heart relic that was stolen from Christ Church cathedral in Dublin, Ireland in 2012. When the interview with priest Rev. Dermot asking for the heart's return was aired in March, my interest was stirred and I did a bit of research to uncover the details of the theft of the heart. It seems it belonged to St. Lawrence, the first Archbishop of Ireland, who died in 1180AD.
After his death the heart found a home in the cathedral inside a wooden heart-shaped box where it was revered and visited by faithful pilgrims throughout the world. One night a group of men hid inside the church and waited until the priest had gone home and then pried the metal bars surrounding the cage, loose from the cathedral wall. The men worked for a gang from China who specialize in rhino horn and other exotics. The whereabouts of the heart has never been discovered.
The Golden Arm-The arm relic pictured above contains the upper arm bone of St. Andrew and is another example of holy bones that were revered in medieval times for their supposed healing properties. Through the small round window in the arm is visible the sacred bone which would not be valuable to collector's today. However, the reliquaries that house these sacred relics are quite valuable being covered with precious gemstones and hammered gold which is easily melted down and sold.
Other priceless relics fail to make the headlines today but are just as valuable to collectors. In 2011 a trove of relics were smuggled out of Iraq and ended up in the U.S. The name associated with the theft of these items was the family who owns the Hobby Lobby stores. Thankfully, in this case the relics and artifacts were all returned to the country and so this story had a happy ending which is almost never the case.
Since medieval times relics have been collected and stolen by kings and emperors alike. Charlemagne was purported to have the largest collection in Europe at the time including remnants of the True Cross and the Holy Grail and Helena, the mother of Constantine, traveled to Jerusalem where she collected many relics from Jesus and the Crucifixion. Today the relics are disappearing from churches throughout Europe because of their monetary value rather than religious appeal.
To find out more about this fascinating subject you can check out my Pinterest Page where you can find a picture of the heart-shaped box relic and many other interesting relics as well. Go to Margaret McManis page and click on 'Magical and Religious Objects.'
This month has started out like a whirlwind for Tally Ho Ho Ho. Inspiration Ranch hosted a fabulous fundraiser on Friday and it was a grand affair that raised needed money for the Ranch and its services to special needs kids in the community. When you order my book from the link below be reminded that 20%of the proceeds will go directly to Inspiration Ranch and their great program so open your hearts and wallets this Christmas for a great cause.
If you can't find my Christmas Book locally you can order online.
Love this little guy. He is my mini Snowflake that appears in my book 'Tally Ho Ho Ho' and will be such an attraction when I do school visits. He will have saddlebags to carry my books. He is only 34 inches and weighs around 150 pounds. There are a few ranches and farms in my area that have these guys for sale but I am thinking of leasing him for school visits before I commit to buying one. I am looking for an appaloosa with lots of spots that looks like the Snowflake in the book but may just have to get a white one.
I will mention a few here and include a review of the most intriguing title I read recently.
Crispin The Cross of Lead by Avi was a favorite because Avi is an author I love. Before he became an author Avi was a librarian, so we have books and a love of reading in common.
The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. This non-fiction title arranged as a travel guide helped me immensely in finding out how people traveled in medieval Europe, where they stayed, what they wore and their health and hygiene.
By far the most intriguing book on the list was 'The Inquisitor's Tale' by Adam Gidwitz.
Written as a spin off of 'The Canterbury Tales' for middle grade readers it chronicled the tale of three magical children and their Holy Dog, and was a Newbery Honor Book for 2016.
The reviews were glowing and I will mention only a few here and finish up with my take on one of my favorite books on the lengthy list.
From School Library Journal:
'Gidwitz is on fire here, making medieval history feel fresh and current.
From Sara Lipton professor of medieval history at SUNY, Stony Brook:
'...a well researched and thoughtful engaging adventure, which beautifully imagines the feel and texture of thirteenth-century France. It is also a moving exploration of friendship, curiosity, and a love of learning in a world all too filled with narrow-mindedness and hate."
This riveting tale of three very different orphans with supernatural powers traveling across France to escape the clutches of the French king is filled with humor and superb attention to detail on every page. The adventures the children experience are close to miracles and they are hounded at each step by the king's spies and eventually come to their final showdown in the waves at the foot of the abbey at Mont Saint-Michel.
Don't miss this one if you are in the mood for a rollicking adventure filled with historical detail and heartfelt friendships.
Over the past five years I have poured over books set during the middle ages to get a better understanding of the time period and my characters. Below you will find my bibliography. Next post I will review some of my favorites so you may enjoy them as well. They are in no specific order, some being non-fiction and biographies but most are juvenile titles since my Relic Hunter series is for Middle Grade readers.
The Squire, the Knight, and His Lady-Gerald Morris-MG
Ghost Knight-Cornelia Funke-MG
The Youngest Templar Series-Michael Spradlin-MG
The Ramsey Scallop-Frances Temple-MG
Isabella of Castille-Nancy Rubin
By Fire by Water-Mitchell James Kaplan
Kings of the Grail-Margaret Torres Sevilla
The Passion of Dolssa-Julie Berry
War Horse-Don Bolognesse-MG
Writing Historical Fiction-James A. Thom
The Book without Words-Avi-MG
The Inquisitor's Tale-Adam Gidwitz-MG
Arthur at the Crossing Places-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG
Arthur and the King of the Middle March-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG
The Seeing Stone-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG
Gatti's Tale-Kevin Crossley-Holland-MG
Relics of God-Keith Sniadack
The Last Templar-Michael Jecks
Jack Templar: Monster Hunter-MG
A World Lit Only By Fire-William Manchester
The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England-Ian Mortimer
The Witch in the Well-Sharan Newman
The Wandering Arm-Sharan Newman
In the Wake of the Plague-Norman Cantor
Canterbury Tales-Geoffrey Chaucer
The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane-C.M. Miller
Walking the Way A Medieval Quest-Neal Wiegman
A Medieval Feast-Alike
Marguerite Makes a Book-Bruce Robertson
A Stitch in Air-Lori Carlson
The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur-Margaret Hodges