Relics are important avenues for prayer that are often misunderstood. These sacramentals are means to enhance our prayer life, bring us closer to the deceased saint, and ultimately, closer to God.
Revering relics isn’t just a “Catholic thing.” We have references of relics and extraordinary results after coming near them noted in both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. (See 2 Kings 13:20-21, Acts 19:11-12.)
The belief is that contact with the remains or items that touched a holy person brings us closer to the saint who prays with us.The saint is right there, praying our prayers.They are helping us live a holy life like they did.
Relics are are divided into three classes:
- First Class Relics: Body parts of saints or instruments of Passion, such as fragments of Jesus’ cross
- Second Class Relics: Objects which came in close contact to a saint’s living body such as clothing or personal items
- Third Class Relics: Items, often cloth, that were touched to a holy person’s deceased body
Mary’s body is believed to have been taken into heaven at the end of her life, so there can be no first or third class relics of her. We cannot have fragments of her bones for first class relics or touch something to her remains for third class ones. However, we do have second class relics that include fragments of her veil and her slippers.
Recently, I was privileged to view a relic of Saint Teresa of Calcutta. It was exciting and humbling to come so close to a part of one of the most loving and giving people to have lived in my lifetime.I can’t imagine anyone being more devoted to the poor than this little woman.
I’ve also had many opportunities to pray near relics of Saint Theodora/Mother Theodore Guerin. I’ve seen her shoes and held her rosary, both second class relics. And before my book, Seven Principles of Sainthood Following Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, was published, I placed the manuscript on her coffin and prayed that it was all she wanted it to be, that I accurately relayed her teachings, especially to trust everything to God.