Monday, January 23, 2006

Modern Indulgences

What goes around, comes around? It might have been a stretch to see the iPod as a modern incarnation of a Book of Hours, but Absolution Online seems to have climbed right out of a 10th century penitential. Click on your sins, rate them (A for the most extreme down to E for the most venial) and it will calculate your penance, and offer you absolution. I got 28 Hail Marys and 5 Our Fathers for my sins of sloth and delectatio morosa!

More medieval echos can be found here, where you can use (OK, I didn't actually try it!) Visa or MasterCard to purchase indulgences at a site that is mocked up to look like the Vatican's. I hope it's a joke. In any case, it reminded me of the thriving medieval relic trade, of which John Calvin reflected, if all the known relics were collected in one place "it would be made manifest that every Apostle has more than four bodies, and every Saint two or three."

Calvin's concerns were not novel, his satiric essay on relics begins by citing Augustine's oblique comment on the trade in the relics of the martyrs: "If, indeed, they are relics of martyrs."


  1. Very interesting link absolution online. I've been curious about when it would come along.

  2. I too, figured it was only a matter of time!