(The following is an advertisement paid for by the Imperial Treasury)
Patriarch Andronicus: Greetings, my children. I am Patriach Andronicus, head of the One True Church. I'm here today to introduce you to a man who needs no introduction. The man who freed us from the tyranny of Phocas. The man who freed the Holy Land from the tyranny of the pagan Sassanians. The founder of the dynasty, the Defender of the Faith, the Emperor of the Empire.... Heraclius!!! (H. enters to applause)
Heraclius: Thank you, Patriarch. Thank you all! No, really, thank you. It's too much. I'm just glad to be here.
A: It's good to see you, my son. It took you a long time to return from the Holy Land, Domine.
H: Well, I could only find a pony to ride. I'm a tall guy, so I was... (pauses) "Dragging My Heels The Whole Way!!!".
(polite laughter from audience)
H: No, no seriously. It's a long ride from Jerusalem.
Audience (in unison): How far is it?
H: Its so far, that even our lice had saddle sores...
(less polite laughter)
H: May your daughter marry an Arian heretic and your son join a Nestorian monastery.
(rim shot. audience laughs, hollers, whoops and cheers)
A: Heyohhhh.... Anyway, your Majesty, I understand you brought back a few souvenirs from your trip. May we see them?
H: Sure! In Antioch I picked up the thighbone of John the Baptist. (produces same from pocket of loros)
H: And in Ephesus I found the left foot of St. Luke. (produces same from within chalmeys)
H: In Jerusalem I bought the receipt from the Last Supper. (pulls slip of paper from purse)
H: If you look at the back you see some arithmetic and scribbles. Looks like Judas just ordered soup but still paid one-thirteenth of the bill. What a dope.....
H: And in Cestiphon, the Sassanian capital, I retrieved this blessed relic. (gestures left and stagehands push a large wooden beam in a gilded frame on stage)
H: The True Cross, the means of our eternal salvation!!!
(audience goes wild, cheers, stamps feet, etc...)
A: You mean you rescued the True Cross stolen from Jerusalem twenty-two years ago by the pagan Sassanians?
A: The very cross our Lord was crucified upon?
H: Yep. Right again.
A: The True Cross discovered by the blessed St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land in (328) A.D.? The True Cross which has performed many miracles of healing? The most beloved relic in the whole of Christendom? And you've brought it here to Constantinople?
H: Yep, yep, yep and yep.
H: And that's not all. On the way here a small accident happened to the Cross, which is why I'm with you here today. A small part of the Cross fell off near Tiberius when the mule carrying the Cross stumbled.
A: Where is this blessed sliver today?
H: We burnt it.
A: But why would Your Majesty burn a Holy Relic? Any church in the land would have built a shrine to house it!
H: Ah, but then it would still have been available to only a relatively few of the faithful. Instead, now we have these! (hands Patriarch a clay token)
A: A piece of clay with a cross on the front?
H: Not just clay, Patriarch, but clay mixed with ashes - the ashes of the True Cross!
A: Oh blessed day! (clutches token to chest)
H: That's right Patriarch, this is a blessed day.
(turns to crowd)
For the first time, all of Christendom can now possess a relic of our Lord's passion. We mixed the ashes of the fragment of the True Cross with the finest Palestinian clay. Pressed into molds and allowed to dry, we have created a relic any family can afford. Imagine the bliss on your children's faces when you bring home one of these tokens. Why the educational value alone will justify the purchase. But the value doesn't stop there. Won't you want a token of the Cross when the plague comes around again next summer? Members of our Armed Forces will want one to carry into battle. And think of how your descendents will treasure this token as a heirloom of these happy days.
These tokens have been hand crafted and the quantity available is limited. Each comes with a certificate of authenticity signed by a consecrated cleric. These tokens are likely to go up in value, making them a purchase both financially and theologically wise.
A: So Domine, how much are these most reverent relics? Ten Solidi?
H: No, Patriarch, less than that.
H: No, keep going...
H: Patriarch, I wanted to price these within the reach of all my subjects. So we aren't asking ten solidi. Or five. Not four, not three, but two solidi! Yes, beloved subjects, a donation of two solidi gets you a token of the True Cross, with certificate of authenticity.
A: Domine, that is most wonderfully generous. How can you offer them at such a low price?
H: How do I do it? Volume!!! And that's not all! Those who buy their token within the next three days will receive, at no extra cost, an authentic replica of St. Matthew's clavicle. These clavicles normally sell for two solidi on their own. But if you act now you will receive the clay token of the True Cross, the certificate of authenticity and the authentic replica of Matthew's clavicle for the amazing price of two solidi.
A: Domine, all of our people should own one of these blessed relics. May I help encourage the masses to invest in this token of belief?
H: How, Patriarch?
A: Friends, your salvation is my responsibility. So to encourage your participation, I'll include a free class-two indulgence with every token purchased. That's right, a class-two indulgence, good for redemption of one cardinal or three venal sins. And what-the-heck, I'll also include a fifty year Get-Out-of-Purgatory-Early card! Just present it to one of the demons and you can stop roasting fifty years early.
H: Gee, Patriarch, that's great. So friends, that's the token of the True Cross, the certificate of authenticity, the authentic replica of St. Matthew's clavicle, a class-two indulgence and a Get-Out-of-Purgatory-Early card, all for the low, low price of two solidi. Stop off by a palace or church near you and pick them up today. Clerics are standing by right now to take your orders.
(This offer not valid north of the Danube or east of the Euphrates. Offer subject to change without notice. Church reserves the right to refuse indulgences to heretics.)