Don asked:

There's a shop here at the Shrine of Saint Bernadette here in Albuquerque. They sell relics that they say are from the tomb of Jesus. I heard there are different degrees of relics. I wonder how are those determined?

Patrick Madrid replied:

"Trafficking in relics ... is a very serious no no in the Catholic church. Canon law forbids it ... If these are some kind of real relics then they shouldn't be sold. I know sometimes there's a rationale that 'we're not selling the relic, we're selling the reliquary, we're selling the container that the relic is in' ... You might want to write a letter to the store and inquire about that ... You might want to even write a respectful letter to the bishop.

There are three main levels of relics. The first would be what are known as first class relics and those are those that are associated with the body of saints. It could be a little fragment of bone ... Second class relics are those things that are typically garments [that the saint owned] ... Third class relics, the lowest level, those would be things that the saint touched."

Mark's take:

Second class relics can also be objects that the saint owned, like a bible or a rosary. Third class relics are also created when touched to other first, second, or third class relics. If you have access to a relic (many churches have one) and touch an item to it (usually a rosary, religious necklace or a prayer card) it becomes a third class relic. Touching a relic with your hand however does not make your hand a relic. We saw a wonderful collection of relics when Father Carlos Martins brought them to our parish for a viewing. Check out the site Treasures of the Church.


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Show air date: August 23, 2013

Question appeared in show: 12:22

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