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 Post subject: Relics
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 8:00 pm 
Hello all, I have a very serious question and do not mean to put anyone's faith down, so please take it with a good intention.
I am studying and praying very hard now, towards Catholicism. One thing that was told to me by my cousin (who is in a cult) was about the head of a saint that was in Ireland. Then I read about various polish Catholics that are hoping that the heart of the Pope will be buried in Poland.
I then started doing research and found out about various body parts of saints that are in churches and venerated.
Am I the only one that finds that gruesome? Is this a common practice and could someone explain the reasoning/belief behind it?
I have to admit I would have a hard time worshipping at an altar that had a head in formeldahyde (sic?) on display.
I ask this in all honesty and it isn't anything that would keep me from joining...thank you for all of your responses...
Janet


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 8:21 pm 
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It is a common practice. It goes all the way back to at least the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, who was burned in about 155. After his death, his followers gathered his remains for veneration.

You might also find 2 Kings 13:21 helpful.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 8:48 pm 
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Here is a translation of the Martyrdom of Polycarp if you're interested.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:00 pm 
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17:1 through 18:3 is the applicable passage.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 9:57 pm 
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And byt he way, the relics (usually very small items) are not normally 'on display' - particularly when they are in the altar as you have mentioned. THey are usually placed inside or under the altar.

Relics can also be contained in reliquaries. The only relic I've seen up this close was - well - about the size of a pencil lead.

Keep in mind Obi's comments above.


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 Post subject: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:19 pm 
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Student wrote:
And byt he way, the relics (usually very small items) are not normally 'on display' - particularly when they are in the altar as you have mentioned. THey are usually placed inside or under the altar.


Ahh, but that is only because we don't have the wealth of relics available to us in this country that were around in Europe. If you go to a museum and see, as an example of medieval metalwork, a fine reliquary from the 13th or 14th century, you will see that it is very often in the shape of the body part it contained (such as an arm), and that it will often have a little "window" in it to make the relic visible. When one had a major relic, one wanted it to be seen...

In my own home town of New York, we have the body (minus the head!) of St. Frances Cabrini in a glass reliquary under the altar in the chapel up at Cabrini High School! (The body is dressed in a habit; the head there is made of wax, because the real head was detached and is in the order's motherhouse in Rome.... oh come on, stop saying 'eeeewwwwww!!!') Also, St. Jean Baptiste on Lexington Avenue (to be a true New Yorker, pronounce this as "Saint Jeen the Baptist", including that word "the" in the middle, even though it is not written there; never say "Sahn Zhan Bapteest") is a church run by the Blessed Sacrament Fathers. On the side altar is a crystal reliquary containing an entire arm bone (it looks like it might be an ulna, but I could be wrong) of the order's founder, St. Pierre Julien Eymard.

In Philly, St. John Neuman is buried in a glass (actually, I think it is lucite) reliquary under the altar of the Redemptorist church - you can see him there. St. Anne de Beaupre in Canada has a great relic of the arm of St. Anne, which is venerated on my birthday. Well, not for that reason -- my birthday happens to be July 26, the feast of SS Joachim and Anne. There are also the remains of St. Vibiana - whoever she was, we know nothing about her besides her epitaph - in the cathedral at Los Angeles. Moving on to second class relics (did you know there are three classes?) the Oratorian Fathers in Brooklyn have one of the cardinalatial birettas of Ven. John Henry Newman. The Provost one time put it on my head; I can therefore report with a fair degree of certainty that the good Cardinal's hat size was 7 5/8, just like mine, because it fit perfectly.

As for gruesomeness, all attitudes about this are entirely a matter of custom and habit. For example, to someone who had only known vegetarianism his whole life, a cheeseburger would be a mighty gruesome item. I come from a Catholic culture in which I have been going to wakes since I was five, and it has amazed me to meet people (usually suburban Protestants) in their thirties who have never been at a wake in their lives, or indeed in the presence of a dead person in his coffin, and who find the idea of such gruesome and disquieting.

Custos


Last edited by Custos on Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:32 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:20 pm 
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I have a couple of first-class relics in my home -- one of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and one of Bl. Frances Siedlewska. The former is a piece of bone and the latter a lock of hair. They are not "gruesome" in the least.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:21 pm 
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Lauda Jerusalem Dominum wrote:
I have a couple of first-class relics in my home -- one of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and one of Bl. Frances Siedlewska. The former is a piece of bone and the latter a lock of hair. They are not "gruesome" in the least.


Really awesome... How did you aquire them? I am looking for St. Therese (my cousin) and St. Thomas relics... Can't find them anywhere!

FJ

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:55 am 
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I was thinking about this the other day. Someone was talking about the lady who hemmoraged, who was cured by touching Christ's clothes. Wouldn't this relate?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:04 am 
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Since we're on the topic of relics, this past Sunday (Divine Mercy Sunday) the priest held a relic of Saint Faustina Kowalska as he gave the final blessing. It was, I believe, a tiny fragment of bone encased in a small round reliquary.

The relic belongs to a friend of his, Father George W. Kosicki, noted hermit and author, and one of the world's foremost authorities on Saint Faustina.

What a wonderful gift to have such a blessing on the Feast of Divine Mercy itself!

'thann


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:37 am 
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Saint Faustina? A few months ago - after the birth of my daughter in December - a priest at my parish came to bless us (and her) and brought a relic of Saint Faustina with him. That was the only one I've seen up close. I have where in a few altars relics were placed but have not seen the relics there placed.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:40 am 
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forumjunkie wrote:
Lauda Jerusalem Dominum wrote:
I have a couple of first-class relics in my home -- one of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and one of Bl. Frances Siedlewska. The former is a piece of bone and the latter a lock of hair. They are not "gruesome" in the least.


Really awesome... How did you aquire them? I am looking for St. Therese (my cousin) and St. Thomas relics... Can't find them anywhere!


The former I got from the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I don't know if they are still distributing first-class relics, however. I am almost certain that I misplaced the paper testifying to the authenticity of the relic.

The latter was given to my daughter as a gift from the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, which congregation was founded by Bl. Frances and for whom my wife used to work.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:46 am 
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This was a big stumbling block right before my conversion.

Just know a couple of things ...
It has biblical support. (see below)
MY reaction to it was because I personally was still grasping the whole idea of sacrament. I had an unusual fear of matter and God has had to work with me to fully purge the false notion that matter was evil. I was creating an unnecessary divide between matter and spirit. My own error, carried to its logical conclusion, makes the Incarnation impossible.

I highly recommend contemplation of the Incarnation on a regular basis and regular reading of the creation accounts in Genesis. I also suggest adoration. The Eucharist itself is physical and it really brings into clear focus the sacramental nature of the faith. Relics are an extension of that ...

See this blog entry on biblical evidence for relics from Dave Armstrong. Search for "The Biblical Evidence for Relics" if it doesn't take you there automatically.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:51 am 
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I have tried to understand the appeal of relics, and I think that if they help people then why not. The class of relics that is something that was touched by the Saint doesn't really bother me, but in all honesty I don't think I would want a fragment of bone. I really don't want to insult anyone. It's just that I have struggled with understanding relics for a long time.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 9:12 am 
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Lauda Jerusalem Dominum wrote:
The former I got from the Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I don't know if they are still distributing first-class relics, however.


No. You have to get them from Baltimore, and the odds of it aren't good.

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 Post subject: Re: Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 9:59 am 
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Custos wrote:
As for gruesomeness, all attitudes about this are entirely a matter of custom and habit. For example, to someone who had only known vegetarianism his whole life, a cheeseburger would be a mighty gruesome item. I come from a Catholic culture in which I have been going to wakes since I was five, and it has amazed me to meet people (usually suburban Protestants) in their thirties who have never been at a wake in their lives, or indeed in the presence of a dead person in his coffin, and who find the idea of such gruesome and disquieting.
Custos


That is exactly what I would have said.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:30 am 
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You'll get a kick out of this one: http://www.kostnice.cz/ Don't know whether any of the bones are considered relics, but it is kinda creepy.

To get a description, click on "English", followed by "Ossuary".

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:51 am 
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Now that IS creepy-weird.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 1:02 pm 
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Janet, I am an adult convert also, and I have never been comfortable with the whole notion of relics. But I know that the Church teaches that the veneration of relics is ok so I just relaxed about it. I know that culturally people can be very attached to the remains of loved ones. I have seen some beautiful artwork made from human hair by immigrants so that they could bring part of a loved one with them. I don't get it personallly but some people find this sort of thing comforting.
As items come up that you struggle to understand try to surrender your will to the teaching of the Church. That is the wonderfull thing about having a Magisterium; we don't have to rediscover or explain every item of faith. (not that many of us don't try!) Some things are just mysteries that we could never fully explain anyway.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 06, 2005 7:26 pm 
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Also, don't forget about the handkerchiefs and aprons touched to Paul (Acts 19)

We have a Relic of the True Cross at home. I acquired it from a church in the Netherlands that was closing.

The paperwork has been lost, but it still has an intact late 19th century seal from Cardinal Louis-Marie Caverot, Archbishop of Lyon.

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