Friday, August 28, 2015


When we removed the ugly free standing altar from Saint Joseph, I was able to retrieve a first class relic of Saint Francis Xavier, SJ, Confessor.

However, our new altar, when it was installed in 2006 did not have a place to place the relic. So I've kept it in the sacristy for all these years until I had a brainstorm to ask one of my parishioners, Jim Fontenot to make a marble casing for it that we would then attach to altar.

He did a wonderful job in making the circular marble casing to match the marble of the altar and we placed the first class relic of St. Francis Xavier, SJ, Confessor,  into it and the casing was cemented to the back side of the altar.

Since our church was built by the Jesuits, I think it is wonderful that we have a first class relic now on our altar of a Jesuit saint and confessor. 


Fr. Michael J. "Francis Xavier" Kavanaugh said...

My confirmation patron!

gob said...

We recently had a rather long discussion about Catholic funerals...who should or should not be allowed a Catholic funeral, giving scandal...proper Catholic ceremony and burial etc...etc. Restrictions on cremation have been liberalized, but some still apply.

Then we consider the numerous holy people whose bodies were sliced and diced, beheaded even, and bits and pieces scattered around the world...many available for the faithful, and the unfaithful, to gawk at. I think I'm in favor of proper burial or cremation...(And why is it against the rules to keep grandma's ashes on the mantle piece? First class relic...right?)
Enjoy your's Fr. McD.

Anonymous said...

Well, of course, Gob shows once again his lack of knowledge in that the first Christians celebrated Mass on the tombs of the martyrs and that is how the altar stone comes about as the New Liturgical Movement explains.

"the idea of the stone altar, the use of which afterwards became universal in the West, is evidently derived from the custom of celebrating the anniversaries and other feasts in honour of those who died for the Faith. Probably, the custom itself was suggested by the message in the Apocalypse (vi, 9) "I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God." With the age of peace, and especially under the pontificate of Pope Damasus (366-384), basilicas and chapels were erected in Rome and elsewhere in honour of the most famous martyrs, and the altars, when at all possible, were located directly above their tombs. The "Liber Pontificalis" attributes to Pope Felix I (269-274) a decree to the effect that Mass should be celebrated on the tombs of the martyrs ... it is clear from the testimony of this authority that the custom alluded to was regarded at the beginning of the sixth century as very ancient... The great veneration in which the martyrs were held from the fourth century had considerable influence in effecting two changes of importance with regard to altars. The stone slab enclosing the martyr's grave suggested the stone altar, and the presence of the martyr's relics beneath the altar was responsible for the tomblike under-structure known as the confessio. The use of stone altars in the East in the fourth century is attested by St. Gregory of Nyssa (P.G., XLVI, 581) and St. John Chrysostom (Hom. in I Cor., xx); and in the West, from the sixth century... (The Catholic Encyclopedia, "History of the Christian Altar")"

I have been told that accrding to the rubrics even free-standing altars are required to have an altar stone standing under them. I don't know if that is correct or not. But one can only wonder why the altar stones were done away with - probably martyrdom was no longer fashionable, the saints of course were played down - no doubt in deference to the protestants who have removed all reference to that from their bibles, statues of Our Lady painted white, etc, again to pander to protestants.


Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course GOB is being silly and hyperbolic at the same time. And yes the custom of relics of saints does strike Americans (including me,although I'm not really American) as a bit macabre or odd, the slicing and dicing of saints for their relics to be distributed around the world. I think this is more in keeping with European cultural peculiarities.

But with that said, I gawk as anyone else, especially is those marvelous churches in Europe that have side chapels filled with the relics of saints, to include fingers, heads, and God knows what!

And this brings us to cremation. I have given up, apart from simply stating verbally and in writing that cremains must be given a Christian Burial in a blessed plot or columbarim. Most don't, they take Grandma's ashes home, place it on the mantle in the closet or distribute portions to others to keep in lockets like the hair of a baby.

Are these relics? No! Not if grandma isn't a declared saint. It's her remains.

At least poor old Saint Francis Xavier's little bit of skin in our first class relic is properly place in one the of the most sacred places in a Catholic Church, its altar.

Anonymous said...

I coughed up a gob this morning and spit it in the toilet.

John Nolan said...

The requirement for an altar-stone containing relics was removed in 1969, although the practice is still recommended (GIRM 302). It was built in to the mensa at the place where the Host is laid during Mass, and the priest kisses it when he ascends to the altar, saying the prayer Oramus te which refers to the saints 'whose relics are here'. I assume that the relic of St Francis Xavier was removed from the original high altar.

The lay Catholic convert Hartwell de la Garde Grissell (1839-1907), who was chamberlain to three popes, amassed a vast collection of relics which he bequeathed to the Archdiocese of Birmingham (England) with the proviso that they be housed in a chapel in the Jesuit church of St Aloysius in Oxford, a fine neo-Gothic church (a group photograph taken outside the church in 1879 includes Grissell and Gerard Manley Hopkins, who was a curate there at the time). This was duly done.

In 1954 the Jesuits, in a fit of puritanism, painted over the polychrome interior of the church with a uniform battleship grey. Worse was to come. The relic chapel was stripped in 1971 and the relics burnt at the local crematorium. For good measure, the vestment collection, which included two mitres which had belonged to Pius IX, was sold off to theatrical companies. When the Jesuits left in 1980 one commentator described the church as a 'shabby barn'.

Fortunately, the story doesn't end there. In 1990 the then Archbishop of Birmingham entrusted the church to the Oratorians and it is now the Oxford Oratory (something Newman had always wanted). The polychrome interior has been restored. So has the liturgy. Every Sunday Solemn Mass is celebrated ad apsidem in Latin, with a fine choir and a magnificent organ. There are also Masses in the older form - the lunchtime EF Mass on Holy Days is particularly well attended. Mass in English is celebrated with reverence and attention to detail. The relic chapel has also been restored; although all that remains of the Grissell collection is a glass urn containing ashes, the Oratory Fathers have been able to source relics from elsewhere.

The community is decidedly on the young side. The provost, Fr Daniel Seward, has only just turned 40. Attendance at Mass between 1990 and 2010 increased five-fold. There's a lesson here for those inclined to listen.

gob said...

Anon 6:42, perhaps you should see your physician...maybe have a chest x ray...

Anonymous said...

Nah, gob, the x-ray would only show your face...

gob said...

I am embedded in your

John Nolan said...

And another thing the Oxford Oratorians have noticed is a considerable increase in the number of confessions, since these are offered before every Mass and indeed during Mass. The latter practice would no doubt incur the wrath of the 'spirit of V2' ideologists, but if people who are at Mass and intending to receive Communion see people going to confession they might well be jolted out of their complacency and follow suit.

George said...

Yes, the Pope is Catholic and believes in the power of God working through miracles and relics.

Pope Francis “venerated” the Shroud of Turin when he traveled to that city.

Francis prayed before, then kissed, the reliquary containing the coagulated blood of St Januarius. It did
partially liquefy in his presence.

The Pope has recently requested that the remains of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina( Padre Pio), be publicly exhibited in St. Peter’s Basilica next year.

Six months into Pope Francis' reign, the Vatican for the first time publicly displayed bone fragments said to belong to Saint Peter.


Coinciding with the Pope's visit to the U.S., the incorrupt body of Saint Maria Goretti an 11-year-old Italian girl, a martyr, stabbed to death in 1902 by a family friend, will also travel to the United States on a multi-city tour. That is not a miss-type.
The INCORRUPT BODY of St Maria Goretti will travel to the U.S. on multi-city tour.


St Maria Goretti

The story of St. Maria Goretti

George said...

For those who are interested, below is the Georgia schedule in the tour
of St. Maria Goretti.

Monday October 26
Holy Spirit Church
4465 Northside Drive NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30327
(404) 252-4513
• Public veneration of St. Maria begins: 9:00 am
• Solemn Mass celebrated in St. Maria’s honor: 7:00 pm
• Public veneration ends: 10:00 pm
Tuesday October 27
St. Monica Church
1700 Buford Hwy
Duluth, Georgia 30097
(678) 584-9947
• Public veneration of St. Maria begins: 9:30 am
• Solemn Mass celebrated in St. Maria’s honor: 6:30 pm
• Public veneration ends: 11:30 pm

Anonymous said...

No, no Gob, an X-ray does not show the soul, although it does not surprise me that you would think so.

gob said...

There is no incorrupt body of Maria Goretti. Her bones (except, I think, for her right arm, which may be somewhere else), are contained in a statue.

gob said...

Anon x ray won't show a soul....but it'll show me? Wow....I must be some kind of a powerful dude....

gob said...

A relic doesn't have to be something associated with or connected to a saint. It can be any item from the past that is preserved as a keepsake. It could be, for instance, the 1862 Confederate battle flag that hangs in my living to grandma's ashes.....

George said...

You are correct gob. Her body has been incorrectly referred to in some reports as in incorrupt. It is only her encased skeletal remains(relics). My apologies on that.

Here are truly incorrupt saints

IncorruptBodiesof Saints

For instance, St Bernadette

The body of Saint Bernadette Soubirous was first exhumed 30 years after her death. On September 2, 1909. Her arms and face were completly unaffected from corruption and had maintained their natural skin tone. The second exhumation took place at the end of the Process on April 3, 1919. The body of the Venerable was found in the same state of preservation as 10 years earlier. This sacred relic was placed in a coffin of gold and glass and can be viewed in the Chapel of Saint Bernadette at the motherhouse in Nevers (France).

Note:(It has been the custom in the Church that the bodies of consecrated religious are not embalmed. After the second exumation of St Bernadette, it was decided to wash the body which caused some discoloration. Because of that, a wax mask was place over her face. The doctor who examined her body was stunned to find her liver perfectly preserved because that organ is usually the first to decompose.)

A few examples of incorruptibles where their physical remains(as far as I am able to find out) have not been altered in any way(in other word, no wax mask).

The body of Saint Alphonse Mary of Liguori

The body of Saint Joaquina de Vedruna

The body of Saint Catherine Labouré

The body of Venerable Mary of Jesus of Ágreda

George said...

Relics are conduits for God's grace. The effect it has usually depends on our spiritual disposition. Think of an electrical circuit connected to a battery. A switch must be closed for the current to flow.
The switch is analogous to our spiritual disposition in relation to the effect of the relic. This does not always have too be the case though. God in His great Mercy can even cause an effect to happen if He chooses to do so according to His Divine Mercy and Providential Wisdom. A year after the prophet Elisha's death and burial, a body was placed in his grave. As soon as the body touched Elisha's remains the man "revived, and stood up on his feet".

First Class relic- a part of the physical remains of a saint (a bone or part of one, for instance.)
Second-Class Relic: An item (such as a shirt, a glove, etc.) that the saint wore. It can also be something owned or used, for by the saint such as a rosary or prayer book
Third-Class Relics: This is an object that is touched to a first- or second-class relic.

Relics are conduits for God's grace. The effect it has usually depends on our spiritual disposition. Think of an electrical circuit connected to a battery. A switch must be closed for the current to flow.
The switch is analogous to our spiritual disposition in relation to the effect of the relic. This does not always have too be the case though. God in His great Mercy can even cause an effect to happen if He chooses to do so according to His Mercy and Providential Wisdom. A year after the prophet Elisha's death and burial, a body was placed in his grave. As soon as the body touched Elisha's remains the man "revived, and stood up on his feet".

A relic is not a magic talisman however. It is forbidden to sell relics and for good reason, not just because such a thing would be unseemly, but more so because of the potential for fraud and abuse.

George said...

A little more about incorruptibility

It is a mystery why some saint's bodies are incorruptible and others are not. There are those who accuse the Church of some sort of conspiracy and that the bodies were specially embalmed to keep them incorrupt. The fact that bodies of some of the saints were found not to be incorrupt testifies against that being the case. If that were so, would not the Church have preserved the body of St Therese of Lisieux, who is one of the greatest of modern saints and one of the most popular? I was talking to someone a few years ago who had worked as an embalmer and the person told me that even an embalmed body will only last so long - the length of time it lasts depending on certain conditions. Even the skeletal remains over time can disintegrate. Under really dry conditions,(in say a desert climate) a skeleton and even the skin and other parts of the body can remain intact in a shrunken dessicated state for centuries (such as the Egyptian mummies).

One of the common features of the incorruptibles is that when they were buried their bodies for the most part were in good physical condition. St Maria Goretti's body had undergone severe trauma and damage both from multiple stab wounds and subsequent surgery. This might explain why her body was not found to be incorrupt
and only her skeletal remains were intact.

Anonymous said...

Yes, George, the whole thing about incorruptibles is a mystery and it is obviously to show the power of God that just as Our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead so too in our day and age there are the bodies of some of the saints that are wonderfully preserved from corruption.

To me the oohs and the ahs and the turning up the nose about about relics, etc, is simply not Catholic. Many just look at the form and fail to see what others see - relics can be a powerful means of intercession to God on behalf of those seeking some assistance. We don't know why that happens - why God chooses to work in this way but nevertheless He does.

I think many converts in the Church these days completely miss out on this - the spiritualty of what being a Catholic is. It is the power and the mystery of Faith which is often found only among simple peasants. Not for learned men who find it too difficult to comprehend or to believe I think, and the often scoff.

We have an example with the woman who thought that if she could just touch the hem of Our Lord's garment that she would be cured and of course she was. That is faith. If we had faith the size of a mustard seed we are told we could move moutains.

No one commented on what George had to say about incorruptibles. Maybe some just cannot believe that such things exist but they do, because nothing is impossible to God. I think these days people have forgotten that and they tend to limit God and to pull Him down to our level. We are powerless people who can do nothing for ourselves but rely on the mercy of God and for that we need faith.

Thanks, George, for your great post which I have ony just come across. Those who are converts need to dig a lot deeper down and discover that spirituality that you won't have even been given a sniff at in any RCIA classes.