Shells for Shells

From John Osborne’s play, Luther:

A man without Christ becomes his own shell. We are content with shells. Some shells are whole men and some are small trinkets. And, what are the trinkets? To day is the eve of All Saints, and the holy relics will be on show to you all; to the hungry ones whose lives are made satisfied by trinkets, by an imposing procession and the dressings up of all kinds of dismal things. You’ll mumble for magic with lighted candles to St. Anthony for your erysipelas; to St. Valentine for your epilepsy; to St. Sebastian for the pestilence; to St. Laurentis to protect you from fire, to St. Apollonia if you’ve got the toothache, and to St. Louis to stop your beer from going sour. And tomorrow you’ll queue for hours outside the Castle Church so that you can get a cheap-rate glimpse of St. Jerome’s tooth, or four pieces each of St. Chrysostom and St Augustine, and six of St. Bernard. The deacons will have to link hands to hold you back while you struggle to gawp at four hairs from Our Lady’s head, at the pieces of her girdle and her veil stained with her Son’s blood. You’ll sleep outside with the garbage in the streets all night so that you can stuff your eyes like roasting birds on a scrap of swaddling clothes, eleven pieces from the original crib, one wisp of straw from the manger and a gold piece specially minted by the three wise men for the occasion. Your emptiness will be frothing over at the sight of a strand of Jesus’ beard, at one of the nails driven into His hands, and at the remains of the loaf at the Last Supper. Shells for shells, empty things for empty men.