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What is the Purpose of Relics?
A Biblical Case for Relics?
Are Bones Depressing ?
Relics are Not Magic


What is the Purpose of Relics?

Relics cannot cause miracles to happen.  Not even Saints perform miracles.  Only God can perform a miracle. And He chooses to do them in answer to the prayers of the Saints. See John 2:1-10.

A Bible study on relics is a good way to see the manifest power of God and the value of sacramentals.  On the one hand, there are Muslims who have an unholy zeal to destroy all statues and relics.  Even some Protestants follow their example.  While they begin with two important truths that God is the source of all that is good and only He is to be adored, they fail to see just how powerful God is.  They create a false separation between God and His created world because they fail to see how He works through it.  See links below on Islam.

God works through relics to inspire us to holy faith.  They remind us of the Saints whose example we are called to imitate.   1 Corinthians 11:1  God also give us grace through them.

“God doesn’t need relics”   is the response often heard from those who do not value them.  But if we reject all that God does not need we would reject Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  God is God.  He does not NEED anything. He could have saved us in other ways if He wanted to.  Jesus could have written the Bible Himself while on earth, or He could have handed it down directly from heaven to each of us.

God blesses us with relics not because He needed to do so, but because we need them.  Devotion to the Saints leads to a greater response to God’s love when we do so voluntarily rather than out of obligation.


A Biblical Case for Relics?

John 9:1-7
“As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth. … 6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva, and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him, “Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed, and came back able to see.”

If Jesus had desired He could have just instantly cured the man without the clay or water. However, we see Jesus choosing to work through physical things, not because He needed to, but apparently because we need for Him to do so. 

Luke 8:43-47
“And a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years,   who (had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and) was unable to be cured by anyone,  came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped.   Jesus then asked, “Who touched me?” While all were denying it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you.”   But Jesus said, “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me.”   When the woman realized that she had not escaped notice, she came forward trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how she had been healed immediately.”

2 Kings 13:21
“Once some people were burying a man, when suddenly they spied such a raiding band. So they cast the dead man into the grave of Elisha, and everyone went off. But when the man came in contact with the bones of Elisha, he came back to life and rose to his feet.”

Out of respect for the dead we usually would never dig up a grave.  However, the Saint  is now in heaven.  And, out of an even greater respect for the dead, who is now alive in Christ in heaven, we consider it a privilege to have relic from that saint.

Acts 19:11-12
“So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

God chooses to work miraculous deeds through the objects associated with the Saints.

Revelation 6:9-10 
“When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God.  They cried out in a loud voice,  ‘How long will it be, holy and true master, before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?’

Above we see the Saints in heaven aware and concerned about what is happening here on earth in this life.

Revelation 8:3-4 
“Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne.   The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel.”

The Saints in heaven intercede on our behalf. 

James 5:16
“The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.”

And because of these truth above the Church has always esteemed the value of having relics of the saints placed in our altars.

Relics are Not Magic

Magic vs. Sacramentals

Are sacramentals such as holy relics like magic ?

NO!  They are the opposite of magic.

In magic you have a supernatural object such as magic wand, lucky charm, or a genie in a magical lamp.  They are used to bring about a change in the natural realm, e.g. to turn something into gold, etc.

With sacramentals we have a natural object such as a holy relic, holy water, etc. and by faith in God and by His application of grace a change is brought about not in the natural realm, but in the supernatural realm.  Through them God brings about a supernatural blessing that cannot be seen.

See CCC  2117 548,  Revelation 9:21


Read more on 


What’s Your Perspective ?
A Surveyor’s Perspective:
Islamic vs. Christian Perspectives

The Greatness of God
Christianity – Islam :
Father/son, or Master/slave relationship

See  “Going Directly to God.”

See  “One Mediator





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First class relic of Saint Pope John Paul II incased in a Golden Bible




St. Jerome (ca. 341-420), the greatest Christian scholar of the classics, is revered for his translation of the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into the common vernacular, the Latin Vulgate.


Are Bones Depressing ?




The admonition on the wall behind
St.  Jerome, “Cogita Mori”
(Think upon death), is made explicit by his pointing to a skull.  His Bible is open to an image of the Last Judgment. And the hourglass and candle are further reminders of the passage of time and the imminence of death.

Is this a fair representation of St. Jerome ?  Why is St. Jerome often depicted with a skull ?

This image of a depressed man obsessed with death is unfair to St. Jerome.  St. Jerome’s focus was on life in heaven.  Certainly, he was not presumptuous about God’s mercy, but his concern about God’s judgment was motivated by desire to live a holy life so that he might go to heaven.  For example, he tried to console St. Paula to not be overwhelmed with grief about the death of her daughter St. Blaesilla.  He encourage St. Paula to focus on the hope that her daughter had gone to heaven.

The contrast of the image above with St. Jerome’s true character seems paralleled with the contrast of our own culture’s view of death and the Catholic Church’s teaching on relics.

Why is St. Jerome depicted with a skull ?
Is this to emphasize death or life ?

The childish view of death and fear verses Christian hope:

When looking at a skull or skeleton our culture seems to focus on the macabre, the dark side of what is celebrated on October 31st with its ghosts, goblins, and zombies.  Whereas Christians answer this basic human concern with hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So, Christians are invited to celebrate  “All Hallowed’s Eve” - or Halloween - which is the day before All Saints Day. 

We should celebrate Halloween by focusing not on death, but on life.  One of the best ways is to celebrate the power and grace of God working in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us and who are now in heaven.  We can do this by going to Mass on the Eve of All Halloweds.  If there is a lesser party afterward then it is a good idea to dress up as one’s patron Saint.

Halloween is meant to call us to look forward with hope to the day to come when we - God providing and our willing - go to heaven to we will be with Jesus and His Saints in Heaven.

So, why do artists often picture St. Jerome with a skull?

St. Jerome was a Doctor of the human condition. He wanted to lead people to eternal life.  For comparison, ask yourself what is the mature response when one sees a skeleton in the office of a doctor of chiropractic medicine ?  Are you happy he has studied the human body ?

So, it is quite appropriate that this Doctor of the Church is often pictured with a skull.  St. Jerome wanted us to be prepared and not be caught off guard.

1 Thessalonians 5:2
“For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

He wanted us to think about and to prepare for the Four Last Things, our own death, our own particular judgment, and the consequence of heaven or hell. This will be the measure of whether our life will be judged a success or a complete and utter failure. 
(Go Home Team.)

The value of relics and a mature understanding of them is based on the hope and faith they inspire in us for our Lord Jesus Christ.  He desires to work through them to help us.





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Maria Goretti was martyred for her faith before she was 12 years old.  Below is a wax image of her which contains her relics.