Skip to comments.The Ancient, Biblical Christian Practice of Venerating Relics
Posted on 02/03/2014 6:51:46 AM PST by Brian Kopp DPM
A speck of bone, their childhood shoes, even a drop of blood? If anything is distinctive of the devotional practices of the Catholic Church compared to Protestant Christians, its the Church's practices surrounding relics.
Relics are the remains of those recognized as saints, whether it is a part of their body (first degree relic), something they owned (second degree relic), or even, though less impressive, objects that have touched a first or second degree relic (third degree relic). Catholics carefully preserve relics, honor them, and even sometimes claim miracles in connection with them.
Catholics insist they are honoring Jesus' servants and in doing so are honoring Jesus. But to many Protestants, the whole practice seems at best very strange, at worst idolatrous, and, either way, in the very least, easily dismissed as just another late medieval corruption of the Catholic Church.
So Protestants (and Catholics) may be surprised to learn that the Churchs beliefs and practices surrounding relics actually come from the Bible and the early Church.
Relics in the Bible
In the Old Testament book 2 Kings, we find an curious story in which God works a miracle through the dead remains of one of his holy servants:
Early Christians were battling Gnosticism and many other unwelcome pagan influences. Just because it is from the early days of the Church does not necessarily make it correct and true.
The story of St. Polycarp brings to mind how the Early Christians, because of the persecutions, fled to the catacombs and the priests celebrated Masses there on top of the tombs of the martyrs.
In the dedication of our new church this last Saturday, we have two relics, one believed to be St. Edward the Confessor of England and the other is St. Clare who warded off the Muslims with the Blessed Sacrament.
Somehow the record accompanying the first relic got lost, but a priest who was at there when our old church was dedicated said it was of St. Edward the Confessor.
That priest is blind now and cannot celebrate Mass, so he gifted his chalice and paten to our new church — he was ordained in Rome and his chalice was used, and thus blessed, by Pope John XXIII. What a gift!
Good apologetics in support of the practice of the ancient church. However, you Latins, especially in these parts, need to reclaim the importance of holy relics. The Latin bishops here in the Great Plains have been giving relics to my bishop (Bishop BASIL of Wichita and Mid-America) at a surprising rate: it seems whenever a church is closed, the Latin bishop gives him the relics it housed, rather than distributing them to other churches of his own diocese. While we Orthodox are grateful for the gift of the holy relics, but it doesn’t say anything good about the strength of traditional piety in your confession.
Nothing says "Catholic" quite like "Protestant-bashing".
Interesting observation. Thankfully, the Archbishop at our Dedication Mass and our priest at another presentation one eveing have both explained the importance of relics.
Smells like unwashed feet around here.
So clarify, what is the purpose of the relics? How does using them honor God? Why use relics when we now have direct access to God through Jesus. Jesus wants us to pray directly to the Heavenly Father.
Lots of things are discussed in the Bible but than does not mean it is on the “approved” list. Homosexuality is mentioned in the Bible and the Homos say that is a stamp of approval.
The thought goes through my mind regarding divorce, that it is in the Bible also and the “church” approved it, but Jesus had a pretty interesting discussion about that................
Having said the above, the protestants have many things wrong also. I often read Revelations chapter 2 and 3 and Jesus is highly critical of the church. His concerns are so great that he talks about leaving the church unless they repent and get back to basics. Having said that, his criticism applies to me also.
but the point here is that there is a clear precedence in Scripture for thinking that God could work a miracle through the belonging of a holy person.
Notice the word “could”. Yes he could, but he could use anything. Let’s venerate dirt, Jesus used that. He used a lot of things.
The biblical reference cited here is NOT about the relics, it is about God, but then man is always distracted by shiny things................... and misses the major points.
However, since it was Gnosticism they were battling, what better way would there be to fight it, than by honoring the relics of the saints? It's the Gnostics, precisely, who took the anti-body, anti-physical view.
The gnostics --- the great rivals of the Catholic Christians --- taught that people should shun the material world created by the evil demiurge, and embrace the spiritual world.
Gnostics associated evil with matter and flesh. They were convinced of the worthlessness of anything that suggested mortality, e.g. a dead man's bones.
The veneration by Christians of the mortal remains of the martyrs is a forceful refutation of Gnosticism. We don't believe flesh is either evil or irrelevant. We believe in Jesus, the Word-made-Flesh. We believe in the Resurrection of the Body.
Excellent, thanks. There were several threads lately discussing the theft of Pope JPII’s relics that were mocking and derogatory and I thought this article was a good response to that kind of ignorance.
My prayer as an adult is for the reunification of the major streams of Christianity, with a "both/and" openness to exploring Truth, rather than the "either/or" that has characterized our past. I realize this is a nearly impossible task; yet in Christ all things are possible. I believe that many of our internecine conflicts have damaged the Name of Jesus, and that we should work together to agree on what we agree upon, and leave the conflicts "open-ended", as matters of faith that have not yet been completely resolved. "For now we see through a glass darkly..."
This post inspired me to do a little research. I wanted to know (and maybe I missed it in reading the article) what relic is pictured, where it is and who said the words on it. My search led me to a 2004 FR thread posted by Pyro7480 about Tyburn Convent that commemorates Campion's martyrdom.
Unfortunately in our day many such bishops are unworthy of the office.
We have an incredible chapel of holy relics not far from here.
Christians “walk by faith, not by sight.” And we are to “worship Him in spirit and in truth.” A Christian has no need of these superstitious idols.
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:21)
John Henry Newman, an Anglican priest who later turned Roman Catholic and rose to the rank of Cardinal, in his book, The Development of the Christian Religion, admits that Temples, incense, oil lamps, votive offerings, holy water, holy days and seasons of devotion, processions, blessings of fields, sacerdotal vestments, the tonsure (of priests, monks and nuns), images, etc., are all of pagan origin (p. 359).
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:8-9)
I’ve got a jar of toenail clippings for sale.
Early Christianity lost out to Paul!
As for touching the hem of Christ clothes Jesus said her 'faith' had saved her, not the act ie. work of her touching.
11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.
God was doing, don't praise God for His mercy, preserve handkerchiefs and aprons to venerate. The handkerchiefs and aprons weren't the source of the power that performed the healing acts, God was.
This is like worshipping little shards of the Buddha’s tooth.
Pagans go crazy over this kind if stuff. They love it.
As Christians, we ought not to.
The early "ekklesia" consisted of Torah observant messianic Jews, The tzitzit on the corners of the Tallit ( prayer shawl ) In Acts 19.11-12, Paul is alive. This article is either purposefully deceitful or What is the need of Pagan Tradition when Since Jesus' NAME in Hebrew is Yah'shua
2 Kings 13 20-22 Interesting Eisegesis. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
and therefore they did not believe in and rejected Pagan Traditions
such as worshipping bones, blood, and garments.
consist of knots which spell out the NAME of the LORD (YHvH).
And thus have nothing to do with Pagan Relics. The woman was
calling on the NAME of the LORD for salvation.
shows complete ignorance of Holy Scriptures.
This exercise consists of ripping verses out of context
in order to prove the existing Pagan Traditions.
calling on the NAME of Yah'shua is all
that is needed for salvation ?
which in Hebrew means YHvH be/is my Salvation !
The early "ekklesia" consisted of Torah observant messianic Jews,
The tzitzit on the corners of the Tallit ( prayer shawl )
In Acts 19.11-12, Paul is alive.
This article is either purposefully deceitful or
What is the need of Pagan Tradition when
Since Jesus' NAME in Hebrew is Yah'shua
OK. So be a saint!
Got kicked out of Saint school the first week.
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Police recover relic stolen from Boston cathedral [Catholic Caucus]
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Relic of Saint Mary Magdalene...Makes First North American Tour
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Delighted antiques dealer discovers 1,300-year-old Knights Templar relic at car boot sale
Healed by monks divine intervention? (miraculous recovery linked to monk relic) [Catholic Caucus]
Catholic relic (of St. Therese of the Child Jesus) nicked from Toronto church [Catholic Caucus]
Mother Teresa's Relic Heads For Europe
Spiritual gift, Paterson Catholic gets relic of 1st U.S.-Born Saint (Catholic Caucus)
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, Relics and the Incorruptibles
Wow, thanks for the link!
Obviously the Old Testament King Hezekiah did not share the belief in relics.
He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
If this had not happened I wonder what chapels would be built for it, and votive offerings would today’s Christians be offering to it! After all, it is connected directly with Moses!
FWIW, I hear that Catherine of Sienna's wedding ring may be available, too.
I'm always amazed that Catholics don't consider it blasphemy for them to fill Tupperware containers with odd bits of skin that dropped off of Jesus during his life. They go apoplectic when Protestants take notice of their pantry shelves, however!
EXACTLY right bump.
You forgot to include.... pagans wore clothes....... :-)
Knock on the door, hard. Make them let you in.
Thanks for the original thread — lovely!
In our day? What was it St. John Chrysostom said about Hell being paved with bishop's skulls? No one is worthy of the episcopal office, though some, by God's grace, execute it well enough that in the end they will hear "Well done, good and faithful servant."
If after your death the Latin church canonizes you, or the Orthodox proclaim your glorification, I’m sure there will be interested buyers when your estate puts it up for auction. If you’re hoping for that, you’ll need to devote rather more time to repentance of sins, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the like, and a bit less to suppressing blog pimps here at FR. In the meantime, I think we’ll all pass on the offer.
For you are dust, And to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3;19)
That’s the best post I’ve seen on FR so far this year.