The Girdle of Thomas, Virgin’s Girdle, Holy Belt, or Sacra Cintola in modern Italian, is a Christian hoax in the form of a “girdle” or knotted textile cord used as a belt, that according to a medieval lie was dropped by the Virgin Mary from the sky to Saint Thomas the Apostle at or around the time of the Assumption of Mary to heaven. The supposed original girdle hoax is a relic belonging to Prato Cathedral in Tuscany in Italy and its veneration has been regarded as especially helpful for pregnant women. The story was frequently depicted in the art of Florence and the whole of Tuscany, and the keeping and display of the relic at Prato generated commissions for several important artists of the early Italian Renaissance. Many saints were big charlatans like Padre Pio or big murderers like Constantine.

The hoax of Thomas’s girdle probably originated in the East, and was well known in Italy by the 14th century. Thomas is most famous, apart from his mission to India, for the Doubting Thomas episode (John 20:24–29) where he missed the post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus to the ten other apostles, and said he would not believe Jesus had returned until he had felt his wounds. In the story of the girdle, at the Assumption of Mary, where the other apostles were present, Thomas once again missed the occasion (being on his way back from India), so the Virgin Mary, aware of Thomas’ sceptical nature, appeared to him individually and dropped the girdle she was wearing down onto him, to give him a physical proof of what he had seen. In other versions o the hoax he was miraculously transported from India to the Mount of Olives, to be present at the actual Assumption, and the Virgin dropped her girdle down to him as she was taken up to heaven. Alternatively, only Thomas actually witnessed the Assumption, and the Virgin left the belt as a proof for his story to the other apostles (a neat inversion of the Doubting Thomas episode).

The hoax is described briefly in the Golden Legend, with Thomas missing the Assumption and receiving the girdle later, and is, uniquely among the surviving English medieval mystery plays, covered in the York Mystery Cycle. The belt or girdle was a common symbol of chastity, and for example Saint Thomas Aquinas had been given one by angels after sexual temptation!

Pope Francis Tuesday commenced his visit to the Tuscan cities of Prato and Florence with a call to be ready to journey with Christ, and an appeal against the exploitation of workers,but he exploits  Christians with hoaxes!

“The life of every community demands that we combat the cancer of corruption, the cancer of human and labour exploitation and the poison of illegality,” the Pope said, kicking off his  visit to the region to mark the Fifth National Convention of the Italian Catholic Church.

Sigmund Freud regarded God as an illusion, based on the infantile need for a powerful father figure; religion, necessary to help us restrain violent impulses earlier in the development of civilization, can now be set aside in favor of reason and science. Freud suggests that religion and neurosis are similar products of the human mind: neurosis, with its compulsive behavior, is an individual religiosity, and religion, with its repetitive rituals, is a universal obsessional neurosis.

Relusion is the religion delusion. The reluded person is ignorant to science and fact and convinced that the holy scriptures of their religion are fact. The church tries to relude its members. Most of reluded people are victims of childhood indoctrination.

Religion is a system of wishful illusions together with a disavowal of reality, such as we find nowhere else but in a state of blissful hallucinatory confusion. Religion’s eleventh commandment is Thou shalt not question.

Before meeting with laborers and labor representatives, the Pope venerated the Girdle of Thomas hoax housed in Prato’s main cathedral, a relic which hoax holds was the cord or belt dropped from Mary during her Assumption into Heaven! Well,if you believed this nonsense, you must be a real moron.

Speaking on the symbolism of this hoax, the Pope noted how in scripture the girding of one’s loins means “being ready, prepared to depart, to go out on a journey.”

We are inclined to remain sheltered, Francisr continued. However, the Lord calls the Church to “a renewed missionary passion and entrusts to us a great responsibility” to accompany those who have lost their way, to sow hope, and to welcome the wounded.

The “Girdle of Thomas” relic also evokes the image of service, like the Gospel account of Jesus girding his loins and washing the feet of his disciples like a servant, Pope Francis observed.

“We were served by God who became our neighbor, in order to serve in our time those near to us.”

Francis thanked those present for their continued efforts in integrating everyone into the community, in contrast to the “culture of indifference and waste.”

It would be very nice if there were a God who created the world and was a benevolent providence, and if there were a moral order in the universe and an after-life; but it is a very striking fact that all this is exactly as we are bound to wish it to be.

When a man has once brought himself to accept uncritically all the absurdities that religious doctrines put before him and even to overlook the contradictions between them, we need not be greatly surprised at the weakness of his intellect.

We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

The God of the Bible and Quran is the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

There is something infantile in the presumption that somebody else has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point… The truly adult view, by contrast, is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful as we choose to make it. 

One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.

A child is not a Christian child, not a Muslim child, but a child of Christian parents or a child of Muslim parents. This latter nomenclature, by the way, would be an excellent piece of consciousness-raising for the children themselves. A child who is told she is a ‘child of Muslim parents’ will immediately realize that religion is something for her to choose -or reject- when she becomes old enough to do so. 

Let children learn about different faiths, let them notice their incompatibility, and let them draw their own conclusions about the consequences of that incompatibility. As for whether they are ‘valid,’ let them make up their own minds when they are old enough to do so.

Do you really mean to tell me the only reason you try to be good is to gain God’s approval and reward, or to avoid his disapproval and punishment? That’s not morality, that’s just sucking up, apple-polishing, looking over your shoulder at the great surveillance camera in the sky, or the still small wiretap inside your head, monitoring your every move, even your every base though.

We should blame religion itself, not religious extremism – as though that were some kind of terrible perversion of real, decent religion. Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. Many people would sooner die than think.

Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, distinctly heard the voice of Jesus telling him to kill women, and he was locked up for life. George W. Bush says that God told him to invade Iraq.  A pity God didn’t vouchsafe him a revelation that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis recalled the five men and two women of Chinese citizenship living in poor conditions in Prato who were killed during an industrial fire. The 2013 blaze broke out at night in a clothing factory as the workers slept in a loft. The Pope described the event as “a tragedy of exploitation and inhuman life conditions.”

Francis concluded his address by encouraging young people to never give in to “pessimism and resignation,” and called everyone to place their confidence in Mary.

“Mary is the one who, with prayer and love, in silent diligence, has transformed the Saturday of disillusion into the dawn of the Resurrection. If anyone feels fatigued and oppressed by life’s circumstances, trust in our mother, who is close and who consoles.”

Vatican is plagued by mismanagement, greed, cronyism and corruption. Pope Francis faces stiff resistance from the old guard to his reform agenda. Francis always complains to top Vatican officials about their murky finances, bribes, robberies, and orgies.

Francis wants to better clarify the finances of the Holy See and make them more transparent: C-l-a-r-i-t-y. That is what’s done in the most humble companies and we have to do it, too. It is no exaggeration to say most of our costs are out of control.

Corruption is the status quo of Vatican. Vatileaks and the uproar it caused led to Benedict’s decision to resign. There are irregularities in the funding of causes to declare saints in the Roman Catholic Church, the purported diverting of funds intended for the poor to plug administrative deficits and the lavish lifestyle of cardinals.

The management of Peter’s Pence, a collection taken up yearly around the world for charities and sent to Rome, is an enigma cloaked in the most impenetrable secrecy. Most money ends up in the secret offshore accounts of cardinals and bishops.

Maintenance and restoration contracts are handed out at inflated prices, in return for huge bribes to cardinals. Vatican real estate is worth seven times what it is listed on the account books.  The Vatican’s pension fund is fast approaching collapse, because of churning to generate commissions and bribes.

Francis, who was given a mandate by the cardinals who elected him in 2013 to clean up Vatican’s huge corruption, encounters entrenched and tenacious resistance to his agenda by the same cardinals.  Bishops and cardinals want to continue their business as usual of bribes, money laundering, robberies of churches and charities, secret offshore accounts, orgies, pedophilia, and bewilderment of hoi polloi.

Funds from a foundation that runs a Vatican-owned children’s hospital in Rome were diverted to pay for the renovation of a mansion belonging to a senior cardinal. The same foundation also pays for a helicopter to take the same cardinal to events and orgies around Italy.

A German bishop spent €31 million on a makeover of his palace in Limburg. Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone used €200,000 destined for sick children to fund the redecoration of his lavish apartment.

The Church bought luxury flats in the capital’s historical center worth €4 billion for VIPs, while Rome struggles to find housing for the influx of migrants.

Prelates are living in luxury apartments with panoramic terraces overlooking Rome’s monuments, or building private retreats in lush Holy See estates with expensive furniture. They regularly travel business class all over the world and rent luxury helicopters to fly to all parts of Italy.

Clergy are making shopping trips to designer boutiques and holding lavish gala dinners of tuna and red prawn carpaccio at the most exclusive restaurants.  Clergy orgies are copies of the old Roman orgies, but they involve many more kids.

A theist believes in a supernatural intelligence who, in addition to his main work of creating the universe in the first place, is still around to oversee and influence the subsequent fate of his initial creation. In many theistic belief systems, the deity is intimately involved in human affairs. He answers prayers; forgives or punishes sins; intervenes in the world by performing miracles; frets about good and bad deeds, and knows when we do them or even think about doing them.

A deist, too, believes in a supernatural intelligence, but one whose activities were confined to setting up the laws that govern the universe in the first place. The deist God never intervenes thereafter, and certainly has no specific interest in human affairs. Pantheists don’t believe in a supernatural God at all, but use the word God as a non-supernatural synonym for Nature, or for the Universe, or for the lawfulness that governs its workings. 

Deists differ from theists in that their God does not answer prayers, is not interested in sins or confessions, does not read our thoughts and does not intervene with capricious miracles. Deists differ from pantheists in that the deist God is some kind of cosmic intelligence, rather than the pantheist’s metaphoric or poetic synonym for the laws of the universe. Pantheism is sexed-up atheism. Deism is watered-down theism.

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