The New International Encyclopædia/Holy Coat

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HOLY COAT. A relic preserved with the greatest reverence in the Cathedral of Treves (q.v.). It is alleged to be the seamless robe or upper garment of Jesus Christ (John xix. 23), and to have been discovered in the fourth century by the Empress Helena, in her memorable visit to Palestine (see Helena, Saint) and by her deposited at Treves. The earliest definite documentary evidence, supported, however, by still earlier incidental testimony, dates from the eleventh century. The holy coat of Treves was solemnly exhibited to the public gaze in 1196, and again in 1512, when Luther wrote against it and Leo X. appointed it to be exhibited every seven years. The Reformation and wars prevented the regular observance of this religious festival; but it was celebrated in 1810, and was attended by a concourse of no fewer than 227,000 persons, and in 1844 and 1891 by still greater crowds, while miraculous cures were confidently asserted to be performed by the precious relic. The exhibition of the holy coat in 1844 led to the secession of the “German Catholics” from the Catholic Church. The seamless coat of Jesus is also said to be preserved in the church at Argenteuil, near Versailles, but this claim is not considered well founded. The legend here is that it was given by Charlemagne to the monastery located there, his daughter Theodrada being abbess. Consult: Beissel, Geschichte des Heiligen Rockes (Treves, 1889); Clarke, Pilgrimage to the Holy Coat of Treves (London, 1892); Plater, The Holy Coat of Treves (ib., 1891).