– What are relics?
– Quite simply they are sacramentals
– Sacramentals are as Michael Pennock states in This is Our Faith“[…] those objects, actions, prayers, and the like which help us become awarded of Christ’s presence” (176).
– Okay, that’s how we understand them as they are classified in the Church, but what are they and what’s their history in the Church?
– Thought to be somewhat of a throw-back to the days when Christians use
to meet and have early forms of liturgy in Crypts on top of tombs of the
martyrs and early saints
– This is where we get the tradition of placing relics in altars
– If we look back historically, the veneration of the Saints and their physical bodies can be somewhat traced back to John the Baptist, who’s remains were collected by his followers and buried in a place of prominence so they could be honored.
– To the history of relics in the Catholic Church, most trace the history of Christian veneration of relics to the account of St. Polycarp’s martyrdom in 156 AD.
– Because of the holiness of the Saints and cultural/sociological/religious context of their impact, folks began to venerate relics of the Saints
– Relics are personal objects, items, or remnants of the person – bones, skin, basically any physical piece of the Saint – that are carefully preserved and venerated as sacramentals.
– Classes of Relics
– First Class – Bones or parts of the body
– Second Class – Objects that were used by or associated with the St.
– Third Class – A piece of cloth or material that has been touched by the St.