Q1: I have a question after your article “Canon Law and the Private Ownership of Relics, Part I” was shared with me.
A few weeks ago, I was in Rome on pilgrimage. I received from a Passionist priest at a monastery there a first-class relic of St. Gemma Galgani, a saint I dearly love. It came at no cost and with an official certificate from their postulator general.
But yesterday another priest informed me that there are directives from the Holy See and canon law discouraging the private ownership of first-class relics; he said that he and others received first-class relics from the same location, but they were taken by the ordinary bishop of a neighboring diocese once the bishop broke the news regarding private ownership of relics.
I was very surprised to have heard this. The relic was given to me by a priest of the congregation, and it seemed like a very common practice of the Passionist monastery…
As I devout Catholic, I want to do right by God and Holy Mother Church. Your article says that today it is not possible to legally obtain first-class relics from Rome on a personal basis, so I am concerned with the idea that I very innocently but illegally obtained and now possess a first-class relic. Does it seem like this monastery has the legal right to distribute such relics of saints associated with their congregation, or is it an abuse? Why does it seem like few priests are aware of these directives? What should I do? –Phil
Q2: In this article, you spoke of a parish priest petitioning Rome for the relics of a saint to be placed in the altar of a parish church.
I’m interested in knowing if there is anything in canon law regarding other custodians of relics— not the Vatican, but, for example, the religious order to which a saint belonged. Are there any rules or laws governing how a religious order, for example, acts as custodian of the relics of a saint who belonged to their order?
In the parish where I work in [Europe], we have a number of relics…. Often we get email requests, always from other countries, for us to “send a relic” to a person by mail. Once an American woman even sent an email telling us when she’d appear in our city and asking where, exactly, she “should go to pick up my relic” of a certain saint. She expected just to appear and walk away with a first-class relic.
Even the clergy can be clueless about “what you have to do to get a first-class relic.” I could not imagine that a parish priest would not realize that an American vacationing in Europe cannot just walk into a local parish and “pick up a relic” like a souvenir t-shirt or coffee mug… –Cornelia Continue reading