The World's Grossest Catholic Relics


The Hand of King Stephen, Budapest. Pinterest

19. The right hand of King Stephen, on display in Budapest, is nearly 1,000 years old.

Stephen I of Hungary (c.975-1038) was not only the first Steve to be King of Hungary, but Hungary’s first king, period. Stephen endeared himself to Rome by devoting much of his reign to establishing an orthodox form of Catholicism amongst his subjects, and was named King by Pope Sylvester II in 1001. He also found the time to defeat surrounding nations in battle and quell discord amongst his own people. He was originally buried in Székesfehérvár, where his original coffin still survives, and soon tales of miracles taking place at his sarcophagus spread far and wide.

The tomb’s popularity was such that Stephen’s body had to be removed to an underground catacomb to protect it. Sometime during this relocation, his right hand was stolen by the man who was supposed to be guarding the body. The missing hand was eventually recovered in 1084, and was put on display in Szentjobb (which means ‘right hand’ in Hungarian) for everyone to enjoy. After various peregrinations around Europe due to war and political instability, the shrivelled hand arrived in Budapest in 1771, where it now lives in St Stephen’s Cathedral and enjoys an annual procession around the city.