“Catholics venerate relics”, Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, in an All Saints’ Day reflection in 2015, said, “not because of a macabre preoccupation with the great mystery of death, but because of our timeless faith in the great mystery of the Incarnation.”
Adoration is rendered to God alone, Bishop Braxton said. Respectful veneration must not be confused with worship, as religious images and relics are merely “things,” he added.
Catholics do not venerate relics because they expect the relic “to do something to us or for us,” he said.
“If someone experiences profound spiritual renewal or (in very rare cases) a physical healing after venerating a relic, this must be seen as the power of God responding to acts of extraordinary faith,” Bishop Braxton explained.
“In faith, we hold out the hope that when we pray in the presence of a relic of a saint’s body (which was once a temple of the Holy Spirit) with an open mind, an open heart and an open spirit, we are disposed for the grace of God to help us to live the virtues exemplified by the faithful disciple of Christ whose body we venerate,” he said (from Why do Catholics Venerate Relics, The CatholicSpirit.com).
Olive Wood Gothic Pilgrim Crucifix With Holy Week Relics
What is a Relic?
Relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Our Lord. They are usually broken down into three classes:
First class relics are the body or fragments of the body of a saint such as pieces of bone or flesh.
Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items).
Third class relics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third class relic of a saint.
It is not Worship, but a Blessing
The word relic means “a fragment” or “remnant of a thing that once was but now is no longer.” Thus, we find in antique shops “Civil War relics” or “Relics of the French Revolution.” Obviously, we are not talking about these kinds of relics but rather sacred relics.
This comprehensive definition comes from an interesting interview with Father Carlos Martins, CC, a Custos Reliquiarum conducted by Mary Rezac. The remainder of Mary’s article, “Is It Weird That Catholics Venerate Relics? Here’s Why We Do,” can be found on the Catholic News Agency (CNA) website.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is made of olive wood and mother-of-pearl
Saintly Role Models and their Relics
Supporting the Living Stones in the Holy Land
Olive Wood Coptic Comfort Cross With Calvary Relic
Visit the Franciscan Holy Land Gift Shop’s vast selection of keepsake, handcrafted, and religious items bearing authentic relics to find something special to bless your home and family.