Are there any rules governing relics?


#1

Through an elderly aunt who is a nun, I have come into possession of a pendant which contains the relics of two saints. I am wondering if there are any rules governing relics, and what I should do with them.

Thank You.


#2

I suggest holding onto the relics for veneration or giving them away.

One thing that you cannot do with the relics is sell them. Code of Canon Law (CIC) strictly prohibits the sale of relics: “It is absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics” (CIC 1190 §1). This law pertains to *all * authentic relics of saints. The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law ( the commentary) explains that, “The prohibition against selling any sacred relic is expressed in the code’s strongest language, nefas est, meaning ‘it is absolutely forbidden.’ Relics may be given away by their owners, except for the second category of relics which may not be given away without permission of the Apostolic See” (p.1415).

The second category of relics referred to in the commentary are very significant or highly honored relics. The law treats these relics more strictly: “Relics of great significance and other relics honored with great reverence by the people cannot be alienated validly in any manner or transferred permanently without the permission of the Apostolic See” (CIC 1190 §2). The commentary explains what “relics of great significance” are: “A significant relic was defined in the previous code as a part of a saint’s body (arm, forearm, heart, tongue, leg) or the part of a martyr’s body that had suffered the wound that caused death, provided the part was entire and not too small” (p.1415).

For more information on relics see:
[LIST]
*]Relics - Catholic Answers tract
*]Relics - Catholic Encyclopedia article
*]Whether any kind of worship is due to the relics of the saints? - Summa[/LIST]


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