I have always regarded it a valuable commodity to be able to laugh at oneself with others as it is almost unavoidable not to make a fool of yourself at one time or another. Also it almost always makes you feel better if you can find the funny side of a situation which is why I am writing this post.
A phobia is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Hierophobia specifically is a fear of sacred objects, religious buildings and priests.
I know it sounds absolutely ridiculous but I suffer from this phobia fortunately for myself as my faith has grown I have faced many of my fears and overcome them but I still from time to time feel unsettled.
I am not sure if I thought I was going to go puff into smoke or melt into a puddle but it took me nearly two months after first acknowledging my belief in God before I built the courage to enter a church. In the end my desire to worship God overcame my fear to enter a church and once I had attended Mass for the first time with a close friend the fear completely disappeared.
Shield your eyes and burn your hands lol. Most sacred objects such as crucifixes and rosary beads have actually never bothered me. However I do find relics very unsettling especially first class relics. Although when out of curiosity I went to see the display of Cardinal John Henry Newman's relics at the Birmingham Oratory I found the experience not as difficult as I thought it was going to be and actually found I could feel the religious significance of the items.
The worst aspect of my phobia is my fear of priests. At the very worst when confronted by a priest I experience panic, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, trembling and a strong desire to get away.
The individual themselves can be very nice and I don't experience any difficulties when they are dressed in civies but the moment I am aware they are a priest or see a dog collar/cassock I begin to feel uncomfortable.
(No doubt you are having a good laugh at my expense upon reading this but it's not funny when you can't string a sentence together and feel yourself turning red from the ankles up)
Thankfully my boyfriend has an relative who is a priest up north who we have been to visit on occasion for short breaks and upon staying with him and seeing for myself that priests are really no different to myself my fear has subsided.
Nonetheless If that fails to calm my fears then there is always the tactic of saying to myself "I am bigger than you, so there is nothing to be afraid off" as I happen to be nearly six foot and find I am more often than not bigger than most people I meet. I am yet to meet a priest who is significantly taller than myself however, but if I do I will be sure to let you all know how it goes.