Radio Show

Why Are Relics So Important?


A listener e-mails the Busted Halo Show with a Question of Faith: “Could you please clarify the reasoning behind keeping body parts in a church? I don’t mean to sound judgmental, but it sounds a little morbid to me.”

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Father Dave explains: “Essentially, he’s asking about relics, which I will admit as well — it’s one of those things about our Church that makes you go, ‘Hmm…’ And yet, it’s certainly something that helps one appreciate the history of [the Church]. When looking at our modern Church today, it helps to consider where some of this stuff came from. We know that in the earliest times of the Church, the way they venerated the saints was to gather around their graves or the places where they were martyred. Eventually, they would build monuments [to these saints], and eventually, they would build churches atop the graves of first the apostles and then other people who they considered to be leaders of the community. For us that sounds morbid, [but] then again, if you think about things that people choose to do today that wouldn’t have been done 1,500 years ago, like being cremated and put, not just in an urn, but in a necklace or something like that, [then having relics is] not outside of the realm of human experience. It comes from love and fondness for those who have passed on. And also, continuing to hang onto a piece of them, if you will, reminds us of the Communion of saints.” (Original Air 10-03-17)

Photo credit: A woman touches a relic of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata after a Mass at the Basilica of Santa Anastasia al Palatino in Rome. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)