Religion: The Money-Changers

During the Holy Years of the Middle Ages (notably 1300 and 1350), two deacons are said to have been stationed permanently by the altar rails of St. Peter's in Rome, armed with rakes to scrape up the gold, silver and precious stones which pilgrims threw upon the altar steps. Then, as soon as the pilgrims' spiritual obligations had been taken care of, the Roman citizenry joined gleefully in the ancient custom of taking the pilgrims to the cleaners. In those days, hawkers sold enough "pieces of the True Cross" to build a small village....

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