A relic is a physical link with someone who was faithful to God, someone whose life was holy enough to be considered a Saint. Devotions to Saints continue to be practiced today with pilgrimages to various shrine and relics throughout the world. The Catholic Church requires, by canon law, that every altar consecrated for the celebration of mass must contain the relic of at least one saint, preferably a martyr. Through this law the contemporary church remains connected with the early Church, when priests offered mass using the sarcophagus of a martyr as the altar.
Author, Thomas J. Craughwell, catalogs 350 relics of the Catholic Church. He barely puts a dent in the 40,000 some relics of saints but assures the reader he selected the most important, musty, unusual or rare of the relics. Arranged in an easy A-Z format, the book includes saints popular to the United States, Canada and Latin America. Readers can find information on the relics of popular Saints such as St. Francis of Assisi as well as the lesser known St. Sergius of Radonezh. Also included are Holy land relics and relics of Jesus including the stairs from Pontius Pilate’s house and the veil of His mother, Mary.
Each entry includes the location and history of the relic and the biography and feast day of the saints. Some of the more unusual relics include the Holy Nails, Holy Prepuce or Foreskin of Jesus, the Holy Spear and yes, even the Holy Grail is included. Not all of the relics in the catalog are publicly venerated, nor can they be 100% authenticated, but their history provides insight into the beliefs and practices of early Christians.
A fascinating read and great resource for Catechists, teachers, parents and students who want to learn more about relics and the practice of venerating relics. The only thing missing is an index!
WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group provided this book to me for free in exchange for this honest review as part of their Blogging for Books program