CHNetwork Q&A Discussion Home Forums Worship Third class relics

6 replies, 2 voices Last updated by  Katherine 2 months, 3 weeks ago
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  • #29030

    Katherine
    Participant
    @cosbap

    A friend gave me three crucifixes that she took to an exposition of relics of a great long list of saints and holy objects. It includes many of my favourite saints, a piece of the crib Jesus was laid in and a piece of Mary’s veil (I can’t help being skeptical about these last two, but the saints I can accept without trouble).

    She said the crucifixes are now third class relics. I know that they are special and are now a sort of link to those saints, and that I need to take care of them. But I’m still very vague on this topic. Please can someone explain what it means to have a third class relic; the significance, any considerations for care of the objects, and how to use them?

    I’m no longer freaked out by relics but I don’t fully understand them yet.

    #29031

    David W. Emery
    Keymaster
    @David W. Emery

    I have an authenticated second class relic that I acquired many years ago. It consists of a small glass reliquary containing dust from the tomb of St. John of the Cross (patron saint of my confirmation), mounted in a wooden cross. I keep it in a special place in my home, surrounded by pictures of Jesus, Mary and other saints, as a sort of shrine. I keep the authenticating letter among my valuable papers.

    This is just one idea of how to keep and use a relic. There are many others, depending on the specific circumstance of the person, the saint whose relic he possesses, and the class and form of the relic. If one has, for instance, a rosary which has been touched to a first class relic, thus making the crucifix a third class relic, it may be kept and used in the same manner as before, but now with the realization that it, too, is a relic with a special tie to that saint. (Rosaries, after all, are meant to be used for prayer; they are not museum pieces.) I suggest that you continue to keep, display and use the crucifixes as you would any crucifix, additionally recalling their affinity to the saint or saints whose relics it has touched, and praying to the particular saint or saints involved as patrons of your soul. You may consider third class relics as objects analogous to holy water; their status as relics is similar to the blessing the water receives.

    David

    #29043

    Katherine
    Participant
    @cosbap

    Thank you David. Here is the list of saints: https://bit.ly/2BIBL2g

    Your relic of St John of the Cross is special, and I like the description of how you use it.

    One of the crucifixes is to replace a missing one on a rosary the same friend made for me, so I will be using that one. The other two I can wait and see.

    Do you think it is likely there is a genuine piece of Mary’s veil or the crib of Jesus?

    #29044

    David W. Emery
    Keymaster
    @David W. Emery

    That is a lot of saints’ relics present at the exposition.

    “Do you think it is likely there is a genuine piece of Mary’s veil or the crib of Jesus?” No, because they would have disappeared into the oblivion of history long before people thought to preserve them for devotional purposes. In the early years of Christianity, it was the passion and death of Jesus and the relics of the martyrs which were the driving force. Tidbits such as a crib which even Jesus himself had left behind as he matured would not be considered until medieval times, 500 to 1500 years after the fact. So no, not at all likely.

    David

    #29045

    Katherine
    Participant
    @cosbap

    That’s what I thought. Why might they be included with the other relics? Does it suggest they aren’t genuine either? I hope not, but it seems odd.

    #29046

    David W. Emery
    Keymaster
    @David W. Emery

    There are many authentic relics. Some are ancient. Nobody (outside of total non-believers) is disputing the Shroud of Turin or the relics of the True Cross. On the other hand, during medieval times, when faith was strong but education was limited to an elite few, there was a lively trade in bogus relics. The two we are considering here are probably of this latter variety.

    The fact that bogus relics exist apparently does not stop some people from believing the claims about them and promoting them to others. As to the Exposition, to avoid being accused of bias and becoming involved in a lawsuit, they probably took on all comers and let the visitors decide for themselves which ones were authentic.

    David

    #29047

    Katherine
    Participant
    @cosbap

    Thank you

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