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Veneration of Relics in Seven Questions

On the 2nd of July, 2020, the Reliquary containing the bodies of our Sisters, Martyrs during the French Revolution, was offered to the Cambrai Diocese by the Ursuline community in Saint-Saulve.
A strong symbol, showing that relics still have a whole place in the Catholic faith.

1. What is the origin of the devotion to relics ?
Devotion to the relics of martyrs existed already in the beginning of the Christian era . Originally it was not permitted to move away the bodies of the martyrs, but the Holy Eucharist was celebrated on their tombs, a sign that related the passion of Christ with that of the martyrs. This is the origin of the tradition expressed by the Council of Carthage in 401, of placing the relics of the martyrs under the altar at the moment of their consecration. This practice is still a current one.

2. What is a relic ?
The word comes from the Latin, reliquiae, which means remains. Relics are therefore what « remains » of saints and martyrs, either parts of their body or things they owned, or even instruments of their torments, if they were martyrs.
There are different kinds of relics :
• Noteworthy relics : the whole body of a saint or one of its whole members (skull, arm, etc.).
• Worthwhile relics : (the whole part of a body, but not a member of it (piece of a skull, of a rib, of a jaw).
• Minimal relics (or light ones : a piece or a fragment of the body).
The word relics is also used in a rather an unsuitable manner when we venerate clothes or other objects that belonged to a saint. There is also a mention of « contact relics » for cloth that has been placed on the reliquary of a saint, or directly on the original relic.

Devotion to Relics in Seven Questions

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