By Michael Hollinger
February 20 - March 13, 2004
Although it is
set in a monastery in Priseaux, France in 1250 A.D., nothing is sacred or spared
from Michael Hollinger's humor as he skewers both celebrity worship and material worship
As the play
opens, the monks are in a funk. The bones of their patron St. Foy haven't
produced a miracle in thirteen years. As a result, the pilgrims have stopped
coming and the money has stopped flowing. They can hardly feed and clothe
themselves, let alone help the villagers in need.
discover that the bones of St. Foy have been stolen by a rival monastery in
Bernay and the bones are now working miracles, the
monks become desperate and susceptible to the schemes of a wandering minstrel.
Centuries before dot coms, the monks turn to large scale marketing with a mail
order bones business. Prosperity abounds, but the going gets tough when they
have to produce an "incorruptible," that is, a body of a saint that resists
decay. Throughout the farce, Hollinger sprinkles memorable one-liners and plenty
of rollicking action as he explores the age old question, "Do the ends justify
In ancient times, there was a
regular cult of the dead that existed before the birth of Christ. In the early
days of Christianity, the Church did not oppose it. There was a wide trade in
relics - "incorruptible" bodies or skeletal bits and pieces of dead martyrs and
saints. They were enshrined by towns and churches. Well-to-do individuals also
drew his inspiration from an actual feud between two French monasteries. A monk
from Conques stole the bones of St. Foy from a church in Agen in the 9th century.
Sainte Foy, also known as Fides or
Faith, was a 12-year-old girl of Gaul (now France) who
was beheaded by the Romans in 303 A.D.
for refusing to renounce her faith. Today, her relics are kept at the Abbey
Church of Sainte-Foye in Conques, France.
Her golden reliquary is considered a masterpiece of Dark Age art.
More photos of the Sainte Foy abbey and relics.