I am learning a lot about Connecticut and its history. We live in a very interesting, history-rich area, that much is certain. Even longtime residents will find out something new about the nutmeg state every now and then.

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Something I have always wanted to do was take a cross-country drive and visit the weirdest, strangest, most interesting roadside attractions I can find. That journey will probably never take place, but that doesn't mean I won't be able to find a few oddities close to home, especially given the rich history of Connecticut and the New England area. It didn't take me long to find one that intrigued me and it is pretty high up on the odd scale. How does St. Edmund of Canterbury and his severed arm sound to you?

Picasa/J.W. Ocker
Picasa/J.W. Ocker
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That's right, it is something Catholics like to do apparently, worship body parts. In this case, the mummified arm of St. Edmund of Canterbury. You'll find the arm just past Mason's Island Yacht Club and some high-end neighborhoods at St. Edmund's retreat on Enders Island. You can stay on the island overnight, take part in programs, just go for a walk on the grounds, or maybe a private retreat. St. Edmund's retreat was set up by the Society of the Fathers and Brothers of St. Edmund, a religious order from the 19th century. The actual arm is kept in the Chapel of Our Lady of Assumption at 1 Enders Island in Mystic.

Picasa/J. W. Ocker
Picasa/J. W. Ocker
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According to an article in the New Haven Register, Edmund Rich was born sometime around 1175 across the pond in an English town called Abingdon and was considered a pioneer in the field of academics. The guy was at both Oxford and the University of Paris and is credited with teaching Aristotle while there. After entering the clergy, he was elected Archbishop of Canterbury but was often in battle with Pope Gregory IX and King Henry III and that, I am sure was not a good thing so he got out of the business, and lived the rest of his life in exile at Pontigny Abbey in France.

Picasa/J. W. Ocker
Picasa/J. W. Ocker
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Edmund was canonized in 1246 and miracles were reported to begin happening at his tomb in France. At one time, all of St. Edmund was all in one piece resting in...peace. This is where the "Society of the Fathers and Brothers of St. Edmund", come into play. Somehow, according to Atlas Obscura, they were able to get ahold of Eddie's arm with the help of a guy named Rev. Jean Baptiste Muard. Muard was expelled from France in 1954 and the Society brought St. Edmund's arm to Vermont, eventually making its way to the retreat on the shores of Connecticut.

J. W. Ocker
J. W. Ocker
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Picasa/J. W. Ocker
Picasa/J. W. Ocker
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From all accounts, the setting where the Chapel is located on that little island by Mystic is very peaceful and an appropriate setting for the Severed Arm of St. Edmund of Canterbury. If you ever go and visit, remember it IS a place of worship, not a place that stores cabinets of oddities, treat it with respect.

Picasa/J. W. Ocker
Picasa/J. W. Ocker
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My Thanks to J. W. Ocker for all the pictures and inspiration!

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