The use of relics has some, although limited, basis in Sacred Scripture. In II Kings 2:9-14, the Prophet Elisha picked-up the mantle of Elijah, after he had been taken up to heaven in a whirlwind; with it, Elisha struck the water of the Jordan, which then parted so that he could cross.
In another passage (II Kings 13:20-21), some people hurriedly bury a dead man in the grave of Elisha, "but when the man came into contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet." In Acts of the Apostles we read, "Meanwhile, God worked extraordinary miracles at the hands of Paul. When handkerchiefs or cloths which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them" (Acts 19:11-12). In these three passages, a reverence was given to the actual body or clothing of these very holy people who were indeed God's chosen instruments — Elijah, Elisha, and St. Paul. Indeed, miracles were connected with these "relics" — not that some magical power existed in them, but just as God's work was done through the lives of these holy men, so did His work continue after their deaths. Likewise, just as people were drawn closer to God through the lives of these holy men, so did they (even if through their remains) inspire others to draw closer even after their deaths. This perspective provides the Church's understanding of relics.
The veneration of relics of the saints is found in the early history of the Church. A letter written by the faithful of the Church in Smyrna in the year 156 provides an account of the death of St. Polycarp, their bishop, who was burned at the stake. The letter reads, "We took up the bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy, and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom." Essentially, the relics — the bones and other remains of St. Polycarp — were buried, and the tomb itself was the "reliquary." Other accounts attest that the faithful visited the burial places of the saints and miracles occurred. Moreover, at this time, we see the development of "feast days" marking the death of the saint, the celebration of Mass at the burial place and a veneration of the remains.
After the legalization of the Church in 313, the tombs of saints were opened and the actual relics were venerated by the faithful. A bone or other bodily part was placed in a reliquary — a box, locket and later a glass case — for veneration. This practice especially grew in the Eastern Church, while the practice of touching cloth to the remains of the saint was more common in the West. By the time of the Merovingian and Carolingian periods of the Middle Ages, the use of reliquaries was common throughout the whole Church.
The Church strived to keep the use of relics in perspective. In his Letter to Riparius, St. Jerome (d. 420) wrote in defense of relics: "We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are."
Here we need to pause for a moment. Perhaps in our technological age, the whole idea of relics may seem "strange." Remember, all of us treasure things that have belonged to someone we love — a piece of clothing, another personal item, a lock of hair. Those "relics" remind us of the love we share with that person while he was still living and even after death. Our hearts are torn when we think about disposing of the very personal things of a deceased loved one. Even from an historical sense, at Ford's Theater Museum for instance, we can see things that belonged to President Lincoln, including the blood stained pillow on which he died. More importantly, we treasure the relics of saints, the holy instruments of God.
1 Corinthians 1:29, "That no flesh should glory in his presence."
Very well done and should be read by all on this thread.
So, yes, of course the tomb will be opened at some point, though there may well be records of the inventory and translation when it was last sealed. If they seem authentic and the tombs's seal is unbroken, they will leave it alone. Some of the most fascinating work the church does is investigating and authenticating saints, relics, and the attendant miracles. As for whether Paul would have liked this, I think he learned enough humility on the road to Damascus to know that it is not up to him.
I wonder why America has Veterans Day? Arlington Cemetery? Memorial Day?
I wonder why some place wreathes/flowers at another's grave?
Surely, anyone who partakes in these activities are "heretic worshipers?" /s
Oh, nevermind, it's just another Catholic bashing thread!