Although a majority have been lost to history, some of the earliest relics of the Church still survive to this day. Those associated with the Holy Family have been the most studied and fascinating of them all.
Some of these include the Holy Sponge, True Cross, Holy Robe, Holy Lance, Holy Prepuce, the Virgin’s Girdle, and the Holy Ring. While many are familiar with these relics, most are probably unfamiliar with The Sacred Tablecloth of Coria.
The Sacred Tablecloth of Coria
According to tradition, the Holy Tablecloth was used at the Last Supper, before the Passion, the inception of the Church, or the institution of Mass, when Jesus broke bread with His disciples for the last time.
The Holy Tablecloth is house today in the Cathedral of Coria in Spain, what could be the first Catholic place of worship on the entire Iberian Peninsula. An exceptional masterpiece of Spanish Baroque, it took about 250 years to build beginning in 1498.
The Church officially preserves the relic because of pious tradition, however some studies have linked it to the Shroud of Turin, meaning they would have been woven at the same time and “the Shroud and the Coria tablecloth were used together at the Last Supper.”
“For the Jews, in the great solemnities, and [Passover] being the greatest of them all, it was common to use two tablecloths in a ritual way, to remember the journey through the desert after leaving Egypt. A first tablecloth on which food was deposited, was followed by a second cloth one would place on top of the plates, to prevent sand from falling into the food, as well as to keep insects at bay. [This] makes sense because Christ was buried in a rush. He died around three o’clock on a Friday afternoon, and was to be buried before approximately six o’clock on the same day, right before Sabbath began. The reasonable thing is that Joseph of Arimathea used whichever elements he had at hand, and a tablecloth of those characteristics was in fact the perfect way to shroud a body.”
Before 1791, countless pilgrims would travel to Coria, Spain to venerate the relic. The Holy Tablecloth had to be stored privately afterwards to prevent overly pious pilgrims for tearing off pieces of the relic for themselves.
“The relic was stored away until the year 2000, when some researchers, among them John Jackson, whom the Vatican tasked with coordinating the scientific studies on the Shroud of Turin, heard about this relic, which is the only one of its kind in the world. No other place claims to have the tablecloth from Christ’s Last Supper. From there, more and more people started to hear about it.”