Did you know that St Augustine believed that the soul dwells in the blood. Saint Augustine (C), Theologian and Philosopher, was born in what is now Algeria but then part of the Roman Empire. He was a Berber, although rarely depicted as north African, and probably spoke Latin as his first language. He is regarded as one of the ‘fathers of the (Catholic) Church’ although his views on human sexuality are not accepted by many today. Since the days of Herodotus (484-425 BC) there have been many strange views about the nature of blood and the qualities therein from memory and bravery to the soul. It was suggested that some of these qualities could be transferred from one individual to another by ingestion of blood or, in an animal model, the transfusion of blood. Even today, despite many scientific advances in our understanding of blood and its qualities, some people still ascribe existential qualities to the fluid, witness the preservation of a few drops of blood from Pope John Paul II, as a reliquary, in a church in Umbria in Italy.
Shaun R. McCann. How our attitude to blood has changed over the millennia