February 2001, Volume 6, Issue 7   
Rev. Mark Connolly
Cultivating Friendships
Rev. Mark Connolly
Thought for the Month
Henry Van Dyke
Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci
Saint of the Month
Catholic Corner
The Chair of Peter
Joseph Marcello
Love Letters
Catholic Corner

I sometimes wonder about the proliferation of relics. It seems impossible that there can be so many thousands of relics from one saint. Please comment.

Relics are divided into three categories: First-class relics are part of the saint's body, second-class relics are clothing or other articles used by the saint during his life, and third-class relics are any other object that has been touched to a first-class relic.

Obviously, first-class and second-class relics are rare, but there can indeed be an unlimited number of third-class relics.

Relics - from the Latin "reliquiae," meaning remains - have been venerated since the early days of the Church. Just as we often keep a special possession belonging to a deceased love one to remind us of that person, so the early Christians preserved the bodies and possessions of the saints and martyrs. The first non-scriptural reference to relics is found in a 156 A.D. account of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp. By the tenth century it had become common to house relics in churches or shrines, a practice that continues today.

From Pastoral Answers to Questions about the Faith
by Rev. John Patrick Bertolucci,
published by Our Sunday Visitor, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, IN 46750


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