The video posted with this article says it is actually not illegal to own a human skull.
One of the things that makes this report so surprising is that he is “a parishioner.”
Nothing about this startling event besides this single article and the video is so-far publicly known.
Unfortunately, this is actually not unheard of in the United States, especially Louisiana and elsewhere in the South where Voodoo/Hoodoo are practiced. The skull has a ritual significance and use.
In Haiti, where the population is “80% Catholic and 115% Voodoo”, some people say there’s hardly a skull left in the older cemeteries. An Orthodox priest known to our parish went down to Haiti on a mission trip and died under mysterious circumstances (probably poisoning), and his body had to be cremated quickly to keep Voodooists from getting any part of it. Cremation is banned in Orthodoxy, but in this case they made an exception.
There are websites where you can buy them online in the US. Certain states have import/ export restrictions, but most states you can just order up a skull and have it shipped to you. I won’t post links but a simple Google brings up quite the selection.
Voodooism is totally incompatible with the Catholic Faith. Those who are both Catholic and Voodoo are not in good standing with the Church.
How lovely, I was just looking for a special Christmas gift idea…
I toyed with the thought for a couple minutes, thinking I could have my very own “Alas, poor Yorick”, but unfortunately most of the skulls come from places like China or India, and not only would I feel sad that some poor Chinese person’s head was not in a proper grave and was so far from his home, I’d also be worried about how the skull was obtained in the first place, like did somebody rob a grave or worse.
There have been in past centuries saints and holy monks who would keep a skull in their cell or on their desk, to remind them that life is fleeting and soon over. Of course, those were also the days when monasteries would dig up the bones of deceased members and make “bone churches” out of them, so a monk who wanted a skull probably had his pick from the ossuary.
I was joking, not buying a skull anytime soon.
St Jerome studying. Note the skull beneath Our Lord.
Mind you, in this day and age, it would be a very peculiar practice indeed. Not to mention that trading in skulls might be forbidden by the Church or at least be morally dubious.
I think that a standing crucifix is sufficient for religious items on one’s writing desk.
I have skulls…
But there not real human skulls there decorative that I had blessed as a memento mori on my prayer stations.
They remind me of death and to pray for the deceased.
If the skull was used for religious purposes in another religion should it not be returned to a leader of that religion to allow its continued use? I am sure if Voodoo or Wiccans began acquiring relics venerated by Catholics there would be a huge outcry! Doesn’t this come under the religious freedom idea now promoted by the Church?
I have a personal aversion, culturally induced, to the display of any human remains. But I do not interfere with those who wish to do so.
First, the item in this case was owned for 40 years by the family who gave it to the priest. They own it, they get to give it to who they want, whether that’s give it to the priest or sell it to a dealer in skulls. It’s not the property of some other church or some other religion. If they had stolen it from another church, then the police would likely return it following their investigation. If I decided to give my Protestant KJV, that I own and that has been in my family for decades, to the priest, it’s mine to give him and he’s not expected to turn it over to the Presbyterian Church. This is just common sense property law.
Second, the skull being human remains, it will be investigated by the police to make sure that it doesn’t have a connection to any crimes such as homicide or grave robbing. Again this is standard practice for what police in USA would do with any skull that turned up with unknown provenance.
At the end of that process, I’m guessing that either the police or the church will probably inter it in some manner, because as discussed above it is not a “relic” that belongs to a church; it is a random piece of human remains that was gifted to a priest.
I’d rather have a crucifix than a skull.
The only time I’ve seen an actual human skull was in art class. We were learning how to draw portraits.
I read on the skull sales websites that apparently dental students used to be required to each have their own real skull to use in their dental school studies, and that a lot of them ended up getting put on sale by dentists or their kin.
As noted above Sarcelle there are numerous chapels that have a large number of bones and skulls in them, including several quite famous ones. The Capela Dos Ossos in Portugal is one of the most famous:-
Would you really expect Catholics, who believe that occult practices like wicca and voodoo are means of serious sin, evil, and spiritually dangerous, would help others participate in those practices by giving them an object used in them? Respect for others’ religion doesn’t stretch that far. And as much as every human being deserves respect, not all spiritualities do.
For the record, we still do that in Greece where the monasteries have been around for 1000 years and there’s no more room to bury new … uh … “occupants”:
Here’s some interesting reading I found on the subject. Apparently it’s a lot harder to get a domestic skull than it is to get one from overseas, as mentioned above:
This is why my avatar is a skull.
As you are now, so once was I , As I am now, so you must be, Prepare for death and follow me.
Common epitaph on many older graves, variations on that are fairly common.