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Sin eaters

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Sin eaters

Post  magssdoc on Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:57 am

If you watched the film 'The Green Mile' the character about to be executed tells the others he is a 'sin-eater'

I had heard of this practise before, but did not think it was known out side of Britain.

It goes back to a more supersitious time, when the practise especially in Wales was to employ a 'sin-eater' to absolve the recently deceased of their sins.

The 'sin-eater' was usually a hermit or sometimes a roaming beggar, the local community would normally shun the 'sin-eater' associating them with evil and being full of sin as a result of their actions.
When a person died the sin-eater woud enter the home, he would approach the body of the deceased, and take from the chest, a piece of bread and drink from the family.
By eating and drinking this food which had laid on the body, after a prayer or incantation, it was believed that the deceased would be able to enter heaven free from sin and would rest peacefully. This would also ensure the deaceased would not haunt the family.
The sin-eater would be chased from the house.
It is believed that this practise lasted in the mid 1800's in rural areas of Wales.
A form of sin eating was practised in Bavaria, the Balkan countries and some parts of the Netherlands.


Needless to say, this practised clashed with the more traditional forms of Religion, especially the Catholic where the priest's saying of the 'Last Rites' over a dying person is said to absolve them all sins.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sin-eater

www.logoi.com/notes/sin-eaters.html

www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-sin-eater.htm

www.bartleby.com/81/15399.html -

www.sacred-texts.com/etc/fcod/fcod07.htm -
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Re: Sin eaters

Post  Mel_Kim on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:08 am

Well I can say I have learnt something today I had never heard of this before. I have seen the film The Green Mile but hated it would never watch it again it really upset me. I must ask my aunt next time I ring her (only spoke to her yeterday as it was my Uncle Tom 90th on Friday) as my mum side of the family are Welsh. I wonder how this Sin Eater managed for food the rest of the time if he was shuned maybe the people would leave food somewhere for him as he was doing a service to the community etc its very interesting. They only slightly similar things I have ever heard of and Mags you may have heard of this comming from Scotland is where Jewish/Christian neighbours would help each other on there Sabbath i.e. lighting the fires and light work etc so not to break the Sabbath I think its called a Sabbath Goy but not to sure on that. The other and I only found this out when I had my James as Kev grandmother who was from Sheffield came to see James as a baby and asked me if I had been Churched I explained I did not have a clue what she was on about so she told me that before you got out properly in public after having a baby you have a blessing first from the vicar. When she left I phoned my vicar who just laughted and said its and old custom that he had not done in years and not to worry about it. Apparently its to do with giving birth and sin and being blessed after childbirth or something like that does any of our member know anything about this it very interesting these customs etc
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Re: Sin eaters

Post  magssdoc on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:22 am

I know the mothers used to be 'churched' after giving birth because they would not leave the house or go out into public unless absolutely necessary for upto six weeks.
That probably would be women who had help at home and not normal 'poor' women who would have no option. This was probably due to the most obvious reason of bleeding after the birth.
I do remember reading if the mother was not churched after the birth it was considered a sinful thing. It may have come about because of the low morality rate between mothers and babies in times gone by.
The church would probably be the unofficial christening.
I know that when I was born, both a priest and Church of Scotland minister, refused to baptise/christen me because my parents were of different religions and had married in a registry office.
On returning to the hospital and informing the staff an Irish nurse and a lady from the Caribbean were furious.
Apparently they baptized me on the ward.
I was officially baptized many years later, (I remember it) by a padre who was affronted that I had not been baptized properly.
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Re: Sin eaters

Post  Mel_Kim on Mon Jan 26, 2009 3:28 am

Yes I remember Kev Grandmother more or less saying I could not go out untill I had been churched but like I say our vicar just laughed and told me to take no notice and stop worrying and that he had not done the pratice in years. As for no one baptising you thats terrible Mags but like you I was not baptised untill I was an adult.
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Re: Sin eaters

Post  magssdoc on Fri Jan 30, 2009 1:33 pm

Mel it is probably why I am such a heathen now bigredgrin It caused me all sorts of probelms when we went home to Glasgow for a while because I had to go to Catholic school but I was quite rebellious about it.
I told you for a Catholic I was quite old before I was confirmed, and I nearly got away with that, if it had been six months later, I would have been living in Aldershot and not been confirmed. Because I was so much bigger than the other kids (nearly 13) the Cardinal gave me a whack instead of tap and sent me flying off the altar steps. My sponsor had to grab my arm to stop me clocking him one back. I had a mark on my cheek for the rest of the day, the parish priest laughted when he saw it and said the Cardinal must have recognised I needed the sin knocking out of me. bigredgrin
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Re: Sin eaters

Post  magssdoc on Fri Jan 30, 2009 2:09 pm

It seems that the practise was taken by immigrants from Wales to the Appalachian Mountans.
A book has been written about it and there has been a film made.
It centers around a sin eater

redondowriter.typepad.com/sacredordinary/2005/05/what_do_you_kno.html -

I've also found mention of old Appalachian folk tales mentioning the sin eater.
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Re: Sin eaters

Post  Mel_Kim on Fri Jan 30, 2009 11:10 pm

Evil or Very Mad Thats terrible that that Cardinal gave you a whack Mags fancy doing that to a child. We have a lot in common on this Mags because I was Baptised and confirmed at the age of 21 and because I had to be baptised first and the most senior person there must do it I was baptised by Bishop John of Bath and Wells bigredgrin
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Re: Sin eaters

Post  Dio on Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:45 am

Forgive my ignorance is christined the same as baptised?
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Re: Sin eaters

Post  Mel_Kim on Mon Feb 02, 2009 1:49 am

Dont worry hun I am not clear on this either Mags may be able to tell us. I think there the same thing but many christian denominations outside the Church of England and Roman Catholic churches believe that you have to be fully imersed in water like what Jesus was etc. Its to do with going fully under the water to die and then come up anew and clean etc but dont quote me on this bigredgrin
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