I have long had a fascination with religious relics. For me they are a direct connection with the past and a binding rod to my ancient faith. Growing up after Vatican II did not afford me much occasion to encounter genuine relics at mass. By the time I was child, the churches did not have relics on display nor were they on the altars and at times there were no relics in the altar stones, breaking with all tradition. However, visiting various nearby shrines and especially those in Italy when much older, gave me an opportunity to see first class relics up close. I was amazed by these precious objects and what they meant for me as a Catholic.
I remember seeing the relics of St. Mother Cabrini and St. John Neuman for the first time. I felt great comfort and a certain closeness to the saint while there. I could not help but think the saints were there in spirit as well as in body. When in Italy, I saw the relics of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Monica, St. Pope Pius X, St. Padre Pio, St. Valentine, St. Philomena and many more. I was blessed to see these relics and connect with holy men and women who understood what I understood as a Catholic.
I realize the following is not a Catholic article but it has an excellent presentation and is of course what we believe as Catholics about relics. Simply replace Orthodox Christians with Traditional Catholics. This article entitled “Why Orthodox Christians Venerate Relics” sums up the veneration of relics rather nicely.
“Contrary to what many people claim, Orthodox Christians do not worship relics. Instead, we venerate them. We take great care to distinguish veneration (Greek: doulia) from worship (Greek: latreia). In English, the two words have definitions people often treat as synonymous. However, in Greek, the official liturgical language of the Early Church, the two words have entirely separate meanings. Where worship means completely giving over oneself to service to God, veneration means simply treating something with reverence, respect, and honor. We afford both worship and veneration to God, but the only One we worship is God.”
Furthermore, “Orthodox Christians venerate the relics of saints for several reasons: First, because we believe the body remains the temple of the Holy Spirit, even after death. Second, because veneration of a saint’s relics affirms the reality of his or her existence. Third, the act of veneration communicates that all Orthodox Christians, even those who have departed this life, remain in communion with God and with one another. Lastly, we do this to honor these saints as examples for how we should live our own lives to please God and achieve theosis. We also venerate their relics in the hope that we may somehow participate in the Grace they received. In other words, to have a share in their holiness.”
As a Traditional Roman Catholic, I have long admired those ancient martyrs who died for their belief in the true God. And I admired those who cherished the bones of these fallen heroes of our Faith. Because of the persistence and dedication and devotion of the early Christians, the relics of many ancient martyrs have been preserved. Thankfully, we still have these priceless objects, however there is an unprecedented danger facing these relics today.
Sadly, many churches, convents and monasteries have closed down in Europe, dumping many precious ancient relics onto the open market. The danger lies in the relics falling into the wrong hands or being destroyed. I have managed to save some of these relics and am working towards their ultimate preservation but I need help. They can be quite expensive and the people that hold them are interested in the money first and not necessarily their ultimate preservation. Sorry to state the hard truth but that is they way things stand.
Currently, I am asking for funds to help rescue these objects. The more I can raise the more I can do. You might be shocked at how many of these precious relics are out there. Certainly, there are fakes but there are a host of genuine ones that need to be preserved and safeguarded. If you wish to aid me in this work, please see the link below. I can only pledge that these funds will go to the preservation of these objects and nothing else. Right now, I have a good connection with a concerned individual who is helping me get these objects into the right hands. But like many things, it requires money. Any amount helps and with God’s help, it will be done so that future Catholics can venerate these objects and enjoy their presence as I have. See the link below.