What Is the Spiritual Significance of Catholic Relics?
Relics are spiritual objects that are held in high veneration by the Catholic Church. It has long been believed that relics represent a direct connection to God, especially when it comes to healing. Whether it is a piece of bone, ashes, clothing, or book, the relic is inevitably treated with honor and reverence. The awareness of the place Catholic relics occupy in the religion needs a deeper understanding. For this reason, in this blog post, we will take a closer look at the significance of relics in the Catholic tradition.
What is a relic?
A relic means the “remnant of a thing that once was but now is no longer.” It is a material object that belonged to a saint or was somehow related to Jesus Christ and that was preserved for veneration and honoring their memory.
Relics represent a vital aspect of many religions, such as Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and others. It is forbidden by the Church to sell religious relics of great importance and reverence. Traditionally, they are kept in special vessels or reliquaries and are on display in churches, museums, and chapels.
What are the three major classes of relics?
All Catholic relics are broken down into three major classes:
- First-class relics are remains of saints. These may include bones, flesh, or hair. First-class relics are considered the most treasured and valued.
- Second-class relics are the attributes of saints used during their lifetimes, such as clothing, books, jewelry, and vestments. As for the martyrs, their relics may include tools used in the execution (e.g., a rope, a cross, or ashes).
- Third-class relics are the only relics officially allowed to sell. These are objects that have made contact with a saint or first-class relics, such as pendants, clothes, candles, etc. Third-class relics are usually preserved at home or worn on a body for the purpose of protection and healing. You can find relics for sale in specialized religious stores or with the help of antique dealers.
What is the spiritual meaning of Catholic relics?
The tradition to keep and revere sacred relics is tightly related to the family. It is quite common for many Christians to preserve the belongings of the deceased members of their family at home. The purpose of this act is to keep the memory of the person and their life alive. The same is with the relics. In this context, it should be emphasized that Catholic relics are meant to be venerated, not worshipped.
Due to Catholic relics, faithful recall the life and deeds of saints and pray to God for the grace and healing of their bodies and minds.