Catholic Exchange: What I Learned by Caring for Holy Relics

A little over four years ago a friend of mine called enlisting my help with an unlikely and unexpected project. Her parish priest had just died and she was the executor of his estate. Upon his passing, he left his estate over 70 holy relics and artifacts from our Catholic tradition. The will was complicated and she needed me to help her find reliable guardians to take the holy relics in order to avoid violating Canon Law or the danger of the holy relics finding their way onto Ebay.

I discovered, much to my consternation, that holy relics are in fact on sale on Ebay, which is a gross violation of Canon Law and appalling on many levels. At that point in time, I had little to no experience with holy relics. Even during my time living in Europe, I did not stumble across a lot of holy relics.

A large relic collection

The first time I walked into her home to begin helping her and her husband with the task, I was stunned by the large collection that spread across their living room and dining room. There were reliquaries of varying sizes including one the size of a small tabernacle. I walked around the room with my mouth agape.

I surveyed the collection exclaiming in awe and wonder: Look, St. Thomas Aquinas! St. Therese of Lisieux! St. John the Baptist?! St. John Damascene! St. Teresa of Avila! St. Dominic! Our Lord’s manger! But then, standing in a rather simple reliquary for what it held, were three slivers from the True Cross Our Lord died upon. I was stunned. Pieces of the Cross that Christ died upon for our salvation were right in front of me on my friend’s dining room table.

We then got to work, matching the wax seals on each relic with the paper bulls we had that authenticated each one. Some never had the paperwork, but the vast majority did. Once we had a completed list of each authenticated relic, I went to work calling every priest I have known for the last ten years. After I exhausted my resources in the clergy, I turned to trustworthy members of the laity and religious orders. The relics ended up going to parishes and communities across the country as people offered to take over guardianship of these sacred items.

Read the rest over at Catholic Exchange.

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