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Why Do We Honor Religious Relics?

Why Do We Honor Religious Relics?
Why Do We Honor Religious Relics?

Why Do We Honor Religious Relics?

The veneration of relics is a practice that precedes Christianity and has its origin in the Hebrews’ ancient practice. In the Fourth Book of Kings (cf. 13:21) we read the account of a corpse being thrown “into the grave of Elisha”. Upon contact with the prophet Elisha’s remains, the corpse resuscitated to life. Holy objects – including Aaron’s staff, the Ten Commandments, and manna from the desert – were greatly revered and preserved in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10).c The Church continued the veneration of sacred objects from its roots in the Old Testament. A number of our practices are based, in part, on the practices established by the patriarchs and prophets who also received God’s divine revelation.

Many miracles have been worked in the Church’s history through these sacred objects, testifying that God blesses the practice of honoring relics. This truth is further rooted in apostolic practice testified to in the New Testament. For example, a woman was healed by touching the hem of Our Lord’s cloak (cf. Mt 9:21), as well as many others who were sick (cf. Mk 6:56). In the Acts of the Apostles, we read that many were healed by merely touching St. Peter’s shadow (cf. Acts 5:15) and that handkerchiefs and aprons touched to St. Paul wrought healing miracles (cf. Acts. 19:12).

What Is a Relic? Definition, Origins, and Examples

Relics are the physical remains of saints or holy people or, more generally, objects that have been in contact with holy individuals. Relics are kept in sacred places and are often thought to have the power to bestow good fortune to those who venerate them. While relics are often associated with the Catholic church, they are also an important concept in Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism.

Relic Definition

Relics are sacred objects associated with holy individuals. They may be literal body parts (teeth, hair, bones) or objects which the holy person used or touched. In many traditions, relics are believed to have special powers to heal, grant favors, or exorcise demons.

In most cases, relics are objects that are recovered from the holy person's tomb or cremation. They are usually housed in a sacred place such as a church, stupa, temple, or palace; today, some are kept in museums..." from the article: What Is a Relic? Definition, Origins, and Examples

The Ancient Weapon Used By Charlemagne, Held By Napoleon, & Stolen By Hitler: The Spear of Destiny

"Among the most powerful relics of Christian history, the fabled Spear of Destiny is one of the most prized and sought-after. From its origin in the fabled tale of a Roman soldier piercing the side of Jesus Christ to the myth of the spear granting world-conquering invincibility to its owner, the legends surrounding the Spear of Destiny have been obsessed over by many. Even infamous leaders like Napoleon were known to be deeply fascinated by the spear and its powers, wishing to possess it at all costs. But what is the truth behind this fascinating legend? And why do four different versions of the spear exist? In the Gospel of John, Jesus was arrested by Roman authorities, tried, and sentenced to death by crucifixion, which involved nailing a person to a cross and leaving them to die slowly. As Jesus hung on the cross, the soldiers guarding him planned to break his legs to hasten death. This would allow his followers to bury him before the Sabbath began and they were prohibited from manual labor including burials. Jesus, however, already appeared to be dead. To confirm, one of the Roman soldiers, later identified as Longinus, used his lance to pierce the side of Jesus as he hung on the cross causing a miraculous mix of blood and water to flow from his body. Some accounts suggest that Longinus was blind and that some of the blood and water from the wound splashed onto his eyes, restoring his sight and leading to his conversion to Christianity. Jesus was removed from the cross and entombed, but what happened to the spear used by Longinus? The Bible makes no further mention of the spear, though interest in the spear and other Christian relics begins to grow as the Church expands and becomes a geopolitical force. This renewed interest ultimately gives rise to four main contenders claiming to be the true lance that pierced the side of Jesus, each with fascinating tales and powers assigned to them. As the legends of each grew, the lance came to be known as The Holy Lance the Spear of Destiny, or the Holy Spear..." from video introduction

What is the Spear of Destiny?

"The Spear of Destiny is the name given to the spear that was used to pierce Jesus after He was crucified on the cross. John 19:34 records, “…one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear…” Because of the contact between the spear and Jesus’ blood, all sorts of myths and legends have been attached to the spear. One legend says that whoever possesses the “spear of destiny” has great power and authority—the ability to essentially control one’s own destiny.

According to legend, the “spear of destiny” was rediscovered during the Crusades and has since passed from one powerful ruler to the next, although there is no historical proof of this. This entire idea is completely unbiblical. The Bible never again refers to the spear that pierced Jesus after the Roman soldier used it. The Bible nowhere even hints that the spear would have any power whatsoever. No object has any power to control destiny. That power is God’s alone." from the article: What is the Spear of Destiny?

Religious Relics from Many Religions

Holy cloak of Prophet Mohammed displayed after two years

Video from TRT World

"Every year almost one million people from around the world visit the Hirka-i Sharif Mosque in Istanbul. It holds one of the most prized artifacts in Islamic heritage: The cloak of the Prophet Muhammad." from video introduction

Ancient stone caskets that stored Buddha’s relics | Sanchi Stupa, India

Video from Storytrails

"This is the story of ancient stone caskets that contained something very precious; the cremated remains of the great Indian preceptor, Lord Buddha himself! Lord Buddha's ashes and other relics - his hair, teeth, nails and bones - were safely preserved in stone caskets after his death in 483 BCE. Later, during the time of Emperor Ashoka, they were further divided and redistributed at stupas across the Indian subcontinent. And one of them was the great stupa at Sanchi, which now is a significant UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sculptures at the Sanchi Stupa tell us about the events that immediately followed the death of Buddha. Watch this short video as we trace the journey of Buddha’s cremated remains from Kushinagara nearly 2500 years ago, to locations across the world that have become important Buddhist pilgrimage sites today." from video introduction

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