Skip to comments.Book bound in skin of executed Jesuit to be auctioned in England
Posted on 11/29/2007 7:39:09 AM PST by Alex Murphy
LONDON (CNS) -- A book bound in the skin of an executed Jesuit priest was to be auctioned in England.
The macabre, 17th-century book tells the story of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot and is covered in the hide of Father Henry Garnet.
The priest, at the time the head of the Jesuits in England, was executed May 3, 1606, outside St. Paul's Cathedral in London for his alleged role in a Catholic plot to detonate 36 barrels of gunpowder beneath the British Parliament, an act that would have killed the Protestant King James I and other government leaders.
The book, "A True and Perfect Relation of the Whole Proceedings Against the Late Most Barbarous Traitors, Garnet a Jesuit and His Confederates," contains accounts of speeches and evidence from the trials. It measures about 6 inches by 4 inches, comes in a wooden box and will be auctioned Dec. 2 by Wilkinson's Auctioneers in Doncaster, England.
Sid Wilkinson, the auctioneer, said: "The front cover is rather spooky because where the skin has mottled or crinkled there looks to be a bearded face.
"It is a curious thing, and we believe it to be taken from the skin of Henry Garnet," he told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview Nov. 28.
He added that it was common for the skins of executed criminals to be used to cover books about their lives, a process called anthropodermic binding.
"These things exist in history and they exist in museums as well," Wilkinson said. "This one has caught people's interest because they don't appear on the market very often.
"We have been in business a long time and, although we deal mostly in furniture, I have never seen anything like it," he said.
Wilkinson said the owner was an academic but declined to name him.
He said the book might be auctioned for hundreds or thousands of British pounds, but added: "It may not even sell. It is quite macabre and not to everyone's taste."
The book was made by Robert Barker, the king's printer, just months after Father Garnet's execution for his alleged involvement in a plot instigated after the king reneged on his promises to end the persecution of Catholics.
Father Garnet had been acquainted with the plotters and had heard their confessions but he always insisted he strongly opposed their designs and tried to stop them. He was convicted of treason and was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered.
Father Garnet went to his death pleading his innocence. Members of the crowd prevented the executioner from cutting him down from the scaffold until he was dead. Others pulled on his legs to hasten his end so that he would not have to endure the ensuing horrors.
Father Garnet is not among the English martyrs of the Protestant Reformation who have been canonized or beatified.
I’m waiting for the Necronomicon to come up for auction.
Oooooo...this is soooooo gross.
Ah, the plot is fleshed out at last.
Eww..., my family traces back to a Garnet in England, about that same time. He was supposed to have been a “Lord” or something. His daughter ran away with a servant’s son.
Would you be so chipper if this was a Nazi Lampshade made with Jewish skin being auctioned off?
You think making a book out of a Catholic priest's skin is funny? You're a real bottom feeder.
That’s just sick.
Although civil rights footage and information relating to black history are the most requested items of the department, Special Collections [Department of the Ned McWherter Library at the University of Memphis] has many other gems that fall into no particular category. For example, hidden within its archives is the 400-year-old book Lidolatrie Huguenote, a French-Catholic response to Protestantism. The most interesting thing about this book, however, is not its age, but its binding. The book was published in 1608 using anthropodermic binding, meaning the cover was made from human skin.From the article Books Bound in Human Skin; Lampshade Myth?
Title page, Lidolatrie Huguenote
While their credibility is questionable, there are some historical reports of a 13th century bible and a text of the Decretals (Catholic canon law) written on human skin.
Shades of Ed Gein.
Would you post an article about Nazi lampshades and say “Happy Yom Kippur day”, Alex Murphy? You can’t equivocate this one away.
Under other circumstances, there might have been a polite discussion of history, in which we could all agree that people in the Old Days did some gross stuff.
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