January 1, 2011

Clarifications Concerning the Circumcision of Christ

The Great Synaxaristes in Greek contains a note under its January 1st entry concerning some important clarifications regarding the circumcision of Christ. It mentions that Ephraim the Syrian and Meletios of Athens (Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1) say that the Lord was circumcised by Joseph, the putative father of Jesus, in the cave. Epiphanios of Salamis comments concerning this that neither the evangelists have written anything, nor is it necessary that they should, since it has nothing to do with our salvation. Furthermore, Anastasios the Sinaite and other easterners claim that the Theotokos preserved the circumcised foreskin of Christ as a sacred treasure. It remained incorrupt until the Lord's resurrection, when He took it to Himself again. In vain do some westerners claim to possess the circumcised flesh. One account maintained that it was kept at Cavillino, a city of Lower Burgundy (Fr. Bourgogne), in a certain church. The bishop of that place, one named Gaston, opened the reliquary supposedly containing the relic on the 19th day of April, in the year 1707, but he found nothing more than a little grain of sand and a tiny piece of gravel. In addition to this, Rome claimed to have the relic in the Church of Saint John the Lateran, as footnoted by Calmette (Luke, ch. 2).

For more on the superstition of the Holy Perpuce (Foreskin), see here and here.

Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church (January), translated by Holy Apostles Convent, p. 3.