About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Your first visit?
Contact us
External links
Good books
Visitor essays
Our forum
New essays
Other site features
Buy a CD
Vital notes

World religions
Who is a Christian?
Shared beliefs
Handle change
Bible topics
Bible inerrancy
Bible harmony
Interpret Bible
Beliefs, creeds
Da Vinci code
Revelation, 666
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing religions


About all religions
Important topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handle change
Confusing terms
World's end
One true religion?
Seasonal topics
Science v. Religion
More info.

Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten commandm'ts
Assisted suicide
Death penalty
Equal rights - gays & bi's
Gay marriage
Origins of the species
Sex & gender
Spanking kids
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news


Religious Tolerance logo

Blood libel & host desecration myths

Christian myths against Jews 1144 CE to now

horizontal rule

Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

Blood libel accusations against Jews:

In 1144 CE, an unfounded rumor began in eastern England, that Jews had kidnapped a Christian child, tied him to a cross, stabbed his head to simulate Jesus' crown of thorns, killed him, drained his body completely of blood, and mixed the blood into matzos (unleavened bread) at time of Passover. The rumor was started by a former Jew, Theobald, who had become a Christian monk. He said that Jewish representatives gathered each year in Narbonne, France. They decided in which city a Christian child would be sacrificed.

The boy involved in the year 1144 hoax became known as St. William of Norwich. Many people made pilgrimages to his tomb and claimed that miracles had resulted from appeals to St. William. The myth shows a complete lack of understanding of mainline Judaism. Aside from the prohibition of killing innocent persons, the Torah specifically forbids the drinking or eating of any form of blood in any quantity. However, reality never has had much of an impact on blood libel myths. This rumor lasted for many centuries; even today it has not completely disappeared. 1

Pope Innocent IV ordered a study in 1247 CE. His investigators found that the myth was a Christian invention used to justify persecution of the Jews. At least 4 other popes subsequently vindicated the Jews. However, the accusations, trials and executions continued. In 1817, Czar Alexander I of Russia declared that the blood libel was a myth. Even that did not stop the accusations against Jews in that country.

"Holy shrines were erected to honor innocent Christian victims, and well into the twentieth century, churches throughout Europe displayed knives and other instruments that Jews purportedly used for these rituals. Caricatures of hunchbacked Jews with horns and fangs were depicted in works of art and carved into stone decorating bridges. Proclaimed by parish priests to be the gospel truth, each recurrence of the blood libel charge added to its credence, thus prompting yet more accusations. This vicious cycle continued to spiral." 7

Nicholl reports that "there are 150 recorded cases of the charge of ritual murder, and many led to massacres of the Jews of the place." 2

Some of the incidents were:

bullet1144 CE: Jews in Norwich, England were accused of the ritual murder. This is believed to be the first recorded case of the "blood libel" myth. Jewish leaders in the area were executed.
bullet1171: Jews in Blois, France were accused of ritual murder. All of the Jews in that town (34 men, 16 or 17 women) were "dragged to a wooden tower where they were given the option of baptism or death. None chose the former." 7 They were burned alive. A second source says that 31 were killed.
bullet1181: More accusations at Bury, St. Edmund, England
bullet1181: Three Christian boys disappeared after playing on a frozen river in Vienna, Austrai.  Several "witnesses" swore that Jews had slaughtered the boys. Three hundred Jews were burned at the stake. After the spring thaw, the bodies of the boys were recovered. They had drowned, and were otherwise unharmed. 7
bullet1183: More accusations in Bristol, England
bullet1192: More accusations in Winchester, England
bullet1199: More accusations and Jewish executions in Erfurt, Bischofsheim.
bullet1235: More accusations and Jewish executions in Lauda, Fulda.
bullet1244: London Jews were accused of ritual murder and fined heavily.
bullet1250: Jews in Saragossa, Spain, were accused of ritually killing a child, San Domenichino de Val.
bullet1255: The body of a little boy, Hugh, was found in a cesspool near the house of a Jew in Lincoln, England. The latter was tortured, confessed that he had engaged in ritual murder, dragged through the streets, and finally hung. 100 Jews were transported to London and charged with ritual murder. One was acquitted; 2 were pardoned; the rest were hanged, either with or without a trial. One source states that 19 Jews were hung without benefit of trial.
bullet1263: A Dominican monk published a theory that God had inflicted Jews with a terrible disease because they had murdeed Yeshua. He reasoned that the only cure was to kill an innocent Christian child and consume its blood.
bullet1283-5: Following a series of ritual murder charges, 10 Jews were murdered by a mob in Mainz; 26 were executed in Bacharach, 40 in Oberwellil, and 180 in Munich.
bullet1431: After ritual murder charges, several Jewish communities were destroyed in southern Germany: Ravensburg, Uberlingen and Lindau. 7
bullet1451: Pope Nicholas V appointed John of Capistrano to organize the Inquisition of the Jews. John repeated the old charges of ritual murder and host desecration.
bullet1475: A few days before Easter, Samuel, a Jew in Trent, Italy, found the body of a Christian infant named Simon. He had apparently drowned in a nearby river. A number of Jews were arrested and tortured. All confessed to murdering the infant. They were burned at the stake. Stories spread of miraculous cures which were believed to have been caused by contacting Simon's bones. Simon was canonized as a holy martyr by Pope Gregory XIII. Simon's beatification was reversed in 1965. 7
bullet1492: Tomas de Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition engineered a blood libel case in La Guardia, Spain. Jews who had converted to Christianity were accused and tortured. They confessed to helping the chief rabbi to abuse and crucify a Christian child. 7
bullet1541: John Eck, a Roman Catholic writer, wrote a pamphlet  "Refutation of a Jewish Book." He repeated the ritual murder and host desecration myths.
bullet1840: An elderly Italian monk-priest, Padre Tommaso, and his servant disappeared in Damascus, Syria, after having visited the Jewish quarter in the city.  A French consol to the Ottoman Empire, Ratti-Menton, promoted a groundless theory of ritual murder that the local Muslim government largely accepted. Jewish leaders were arrested and tortured. Sixty of their children were held hostage and starved to pressure their parents into confessing. One source said that four adults died from the mistreatment; another states that two died and some were permanently disabled. 7 Most of the rest confessed involvement in a ritual murder. 3 Yhe consul then requested permission from the Syrian government to murder the rest of his suspects. As a result of widespread protests from Sir Moses, Montefiore, Adolphe Cremieux, Solomon Munk, and others, the lives of the survivors were spared.

This event introduced the blood libel myth to the Arab world, where it is still circulating. It also led to an organized effort by Jews in Europe and the Middle East to protect themselves. This affair spurred early Zionist writers like Hess to promote the Zionist cause. 13,14
bullet1853: Two Jews of Saratov, Russia, were convicted of ritually murdering two Christian children. 7
bullet1870's: "With the rise of the modern antisemitic movement in the late 1870s, the traditional blood accusation merged easily with the new scientific racial arguments, serving as a lowest common denominator to unite its secular (and often anti-Christian), Catholic, and Protestant members." 3 Roman Catholic Bishop Martin of Pederborn, Germany, wrote that Jews ritually murdered Christian children.
bullet1881: A Roman Catholic journal, Civilta Cattolica, started a series of articles which attempted to prove that ritual murder was an integral element of the Jewish religion. They argued that the ritual murders occurred at Purim rather than Passover. "It is in vain that Jews seek to slough off the weight of argument against them: the mystery has become known to all." (Not quite all. Historians have rejected the stories of blood libel as myth.) 3
bullet1911-3: The Beilis case, an accusation of ritual murder of a boy by the name of Andriusha  Yustchinsky, surfaced in Kiev, Russia. At first, his mother looked like a possible suspect. Although the boy had disappeared eight days before his body was found, she had not notified the police. She showed no emotion when her son's body was discovered. Upon his death, she inherited 500 rubles, which had been held in trust. Suspicion later fell on Vera Tchebiraik who was involved with a gang of thieves. Andriusha was a schoolmate of her son, and would often stay overnight in her home. The boy might have heard about or seen some criminal act by the gang and been murdered to assure his silence. However, this was a time of great unrest in the country, and widespread anti-Jewish sentiment. Soon, the blood libel myth surfaced.  "Mendel Beilis was a Jew arrested in 1911 by the Czarist secret police in Kiev and accused of ritually murdering a Christian boy to use his blood in baking matzoh. He was jailed for almost two and one-half years, under horrible conditions, while awaiting trial. In 1913, after a dramatic trial, he was [unanimously] acquitted by an all Christian jury." 6,7,8,12
bullet1920s: Mendel Beilis emigrated to the U.S. and wrote his autobiography, called "The Story of My Sufferings." 6
bullet1960s: Bernard Malamud wrote a novel called "The Fixer." He received both a Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Although he claimed that this was an original story, some analysts believe that Malamud took most of the events and details from Beilis' book. 6
bullet1930's +: Hitler re-used the blood-libel myth as justification for the Holocaust. The Nazi periodical, Der Stürmer, often published special issues devoted to allegations of ritual murder by Jews. Hitler had asked that a propaganda film be made of the 1840 Damascus case. World War II ended before it could be made.
bullet2000's: The Jewish blood-libel myth continues to circulate among many Muslim countries. Egyptian film producer is making a movie about the Syrian case in 1840, called "The Matzoh of Zion." Director Albert Maysles is making a film about the Beilis case.
bullet2007: Ariel Toaff, an Israeli historian of Italian origin, published a book that has revived the blood libel story. It is titled: "Bloody Passovers: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders." Toaff suggests that several crucifixions of Christian children occurred from 1100 to about 1500 CE. He wrote:

"My research shows that in the Middle Ages, a group of fundamentalist Jews did not respect the biblical prohibition and used blood for healing. It is just one group of Jews, who belonged to the communities that suffered the severest persecution during the Crusades. From this trauma came a passion for revenge that in some cases led to responses, among them ritual murder of Christian children."

He bases his book on the testimony given under torture. Twelve of Italy's chief rabbis issued a press release stating:

"It is totally inappropriate to utilize declarations extorted under torture centuries ago to reconstruct bizarre and devious historical theses. ... The only blood spilled in these stories was that of so many innocent Jews, massacred on account of unjust and infamous accusations."

Sergio Luzzatto, in an article in the Corriere della Serra wrote:

"Even if the author should manage to prove that a deviant sect existed for centuries...clearly it could never be identified as a Jewish group, or as part of a Jewish community. This would be comparable to saying that the rabbis who were present at [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad's Holocaust Denial Conference in Teheran represent mainstream Judaism." 15

horizontal rule

Sponsored link:

horizontal rule

Host desecration accusations against Jews:

The host is a wafer used during the Roman Catholic mass. At a certain point during the ritual, the church teaches that it is converted into the actual body of Jesus Christ, just as the wine becomes Jesus' actual blood. These elements of the mass are then eaten by the believers. This belief is not shared by Protestants, who believe that the bread and wine symbolize -- but do not become -- Jesus' body and blood.

A variation of the blood libel myth developed in Europe early in the 11th century. Instead of accusing the Jews of killing an innocent child, they were accused of desecrating the host. Sometimes they were accused stabbing pins into the host, or of stepping on it. Other times, they were accused of stabbing the host with a knife until Jesus' blood leaked out. Sometimes, they were accused of nailing the host, in a symbolic replay of the crucifixion.

Like the blood libel myth, host desecration makes no logical sense. Being Jews, they would not believe in the Christian doctrine of transubstantiation - that the host during mass becomes the actual body of Jesus. To them, the host is just a simple wafer with no religious significance.

Nicholl reports that "100 instances of the charge have been recorded, in many cases leading to massacres." Some of the incidents were: 2

bullet1021: Rome suffered through both an earthquake and hurricane on Good Friday of that year. Some Jews were charged with having caused the disaster driving a nail through a stolen host. They were tortured until they confessed; they were then burned alive.
bullet1215: The Fourth Lateran Council in Rome declared the belief in transubstantiation. This established the theological basis for the host desecration myth.
bullet1243: All Jews in Berlitz, Germany were burned alive for allegedly torturing a stolen host. 4
bullet1308: The Bishop of Strasbourg charged Jews in Sulzmatt and Rufach with host desecration. They were burned alive.
bullet1370: Jews in Brabant, Belgium, were accused of defiling the host and were burned alive. 5
bullet1389: Jews in Prague were accused of attacking a monk carrying a wafer. All of the Jews in the city were offered the choice of conversion to Christianity or death. They were all killed. 4
bullet1399: A rabbi and 13 elders in Posen, Poland, were charged with stabbing the host and tossing it into a pit. They were slowly roasted to death. Some townspeople believed that the host had bled.

Unlike the basic Blood Libel myth, rumors of host desecration by Jews appear to have died out in the Middle Ages. It has surfaced recently, during the mid-1990's. In at least two Roman Catholic cathedrals (one in Ontario, Canada and another in Mississippi) some parishioners believed that Satanists were masquerading as church members, attending mass but not swallowing the host. They believed that it was later taken from the cathedral and used in Satanic rituals.

horizontal rule


  1. M.I. Dimont, "Jews, God and History," Mentor Books, Revised edition, (1994), Page 235. You can buy this book from Amazon.com bookstore
  2. William Nichol, "Christian Antisemitism: A History of Hate," Aronson, (1995).
  3. Jonathan Frankel, "'Ritual Murder' in the Modern Era: The Damascus Affair of 1840," Jewish Social Studies Volume 3, Number 2, at: http://www.indiana.edu/~iupress/journals/jss-art3.html#r4
  4. Wildwoman, at: http://www.loop.com/~bramble/
  5. Edward Vanhoutte, "Importance and unimportance of the Jews of Belgium from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment," at: http://pcger17.uia.ac.be/JEWS.html
  6. "Family of Mendel Beilis: A martyr for his people," at: http://www.mendelbeilis.com/
  7. Shari Schwartz, "Editor's Preface: The Making of a Martyr," at: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/
  8. "A boy is murdered," at: http://www.shemayisrael.co.il/
  9. Salo W. Baron, "The Russian Jew under Tsars and Soviets"
  10. S. M. Dubnow, "History of the Jews in Russia and Poland"
  11. Alexander B. Tager, "The Decay of Czarism: The Beilis Trial"
  12. "A government blood libel: The Beilis affair," The history of Jews in Russia, (1995). at: http://www.friends-partners.org/
  13. Ronald Florence, "Blood Libel : The Damascus Affair of 1840," University of Wisconsin Press, (2004). Read reviews or order this book  
  14. Jonathan Frankel, "The Damascus Affair : 'Ritual Murder', Politics, and the Jews in 1840," Cambridge University Press, (1997). Read reviews or order this book
  15. Historian gives credence to blood libel," The Jerusalem Post, 2007-FEB-07, at: http://www.jpost.com/

horizontal rule

Copyright 2003 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2007-AUG-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or to the Blood libel, etc. menu, or choose:

Web ReligiousTolerance.org

Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Twitter link

Facebook icon

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.