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AN IRREVERENT CURIOSITY book coverLooking for a last-minute gift book? Head to your local bookseller (or to Amazon, if you must and buy David Farley's An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Church's Strangest Relic in Italy's Oddest Town. The book, which was published a few months ago, is the story of travel writer David Farley's attempts to track down Jesus Christ's foreskin.

And no, that's neither a joke nor an act of blasphemy, as you'll learn from this summary of the book on the author's Web site: 

"Farley recounts how the relic passed from Charlemagne to the papacy to a marauding sixteenth-century German soldier before finally ending up in Calcata, where miracles occurred that made the sleepy town a pilgrimage destination. Over the centuries, as Catholic theology evolved, the relic came to be viewed as something of an embarrassment, culminating in a 1900 papal decree that threatened excommunication on anyone who spoke of or wrote about the relic.

An Irreverent Curiosity (Gotham Books/Penguin) interweaves this history with the curious landscape of Calcata, a beautiful and untouched medieval village set atop four-hundred-fifty-foot cliffs, which now, due to the inscrutable machinations of Italian bureaucracy, is a veritable counterculture coven. Blending history, travel, and perhaps the oddest story in Christian lore, An Irreverent Curiosity is a weird and wonderful tale of conspiracy and misadventure."

I've read An Irreverent Curiosity, and I'll happily cast my vote with the New York Times reviewer who wrote: 

"[Farley's] ribald detective story ... is like a cross between The Da Vinci Code and Life of Brian ... a charming yarn."

To learn more about An Irreverent Curiosity, or to order the book, visit David Farley's Web site at

- Durant Imboden


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