Bohemian Oddity #1: The Withered Hand

Prior to the April release of my new travel article in stalkingElk Magazine, I’ll be previewing just a few of the Bohemian oddities that will be featured. First up, it’s Church of St. James… and the creepy mummified arm of a 17th century thief.

Here’s how the legend goes. One night in Prague, a rather unsavoury fellow was strolling past the Church of St. James when he noticed that the door was ever-so-slightly ajar. Sensing a rare opportunity, he ventured inside to see what precious items he could pinch… and his eyes soon fell upon the jewels hanging around the neck of the Virgin Mary statue. But as he reached up to unburden the Madonna, she suddenly sprang into life and grabbed his arm, before promptly turning back into cold, hard stone.

When the priest came into the church the next morning he discovered the tea-leaf there, trapped in the grasp of the spiteful Virgin. He and other members of the clergy tried to free the man, but to no avail, so they naturally decided there was nothing else for it… they’d have to lop off his arm below the elbow. And yet that’s not the end of it as – to add insult to horrific injury – the moment the amputation was complete Our Lady released her grasp on the limb to resume her usual saintly pose.

In memory of the miracle, and as a warning to all other would-be intruders, the priest hung the thief’s forearm above the entrance to St. James’ Church… and that’s where it has remained ever since. Now wizened and blackened, you can see the limp limb in all its magnificence by visiting the beautiful church in Prague Old Town. If you do fancy the trip, here’s a map so you can find your way. But remember, whatever you do… don’t mess with the Virgin.

You can read the full article – Weird beards and other Bohemian oddities – in the April edition of stalkingElk.

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