Buying medals with relics


What is the position with buying medals that include a relic? Is that permitted?

I’m trying to get hold of a medal of Blessed Bartolo Longo, not necessarily with a relic, but there doesn’t seem to be many available.


So long as they’re not charging you for the relic, it should be fine.


Those medals contain a 3rd class relic, usually, which is just a piece of cloth touched to the relics of the saint. Zero issue with that at all. You can tell because we even have a word for it.



How do you know that? If the price advertised is for the medal, but the price seems a bit on the pricey side, how do you know you are just paying for the medal? If the relic is part of the medal and you are buying it, then is the price paid not for both?


But is that not similar to buying a blessed item?


Generally they’ll say something along the lines of, “We are not charging you for the relic, the extra cost is for what houses the relic”. If I don’t see that, I assume they’re charging for the relic, but Father @edward_george1 gave the thumbs up, so there shouldn’t be an issue regardless.


It’s not even the same kind of relic. A first class relic is a body part. A second class relic is something that belonged to the saint. A third class relic is something touched to a first class relic. These relic medals contain a tiny piece of cloth that was touched to a first class relic. If they were selling the relic medals for significantly more than a regular one, so as to turn a profit off of its being a third class relic, that would be wrong. But as it is, there’s nothing wrong with it.


Many thanks.


Sorry, I’m just a little confused. We have a word for what - a third-class relic? And there’s “zero issue with it”. Meaning – what – it’s okay to pay for a third-class relic, but not for a first-class? Sorry I am just unclear on this post…


That we have zero issue with third class relics in medals is demonstrated by the fact that we name such a thing a third class relic.

It is not okay to buy a first class relic. It is okay to buy something that has been touched to a first class relic. It is not okay for someone to significantly jack up the price on an object just because it’s a third class relic.


? Seems to be a bit of a puzzle?


I’d contact the Basillica where Bl Longo is entombed. Guessing they have medals available:


Many Catholic shrine gift shops sell many, many third-class relic medals. A number of them are run by orders. I doubt that the shops would be permitted to do this if it wasn’t okay.

If you’re looking at the JPIICorner medals of Blessed Bartolo, their prices can be a bit on the pricey side because they tend to offer medals that nobody else is selling. They make medals of a lot of beati. It’s hard to get a medal of a beati unless you go directly to their own personal shrine gift shop. I think I got some Blessed Jerzy Popieluszcko medals from JPIICorner, and I can tell you that the gift shop at his grave didn’t even have medals of him because I went in person hoping to buy one. I think I ended up with a holy card instead.


Also, I feel like I’m picking on your answer, but you seem to assume that everyone knows that the term “third class relic” means something obvious on its face, like everyone would know “Oh, of course, if it’s a third class relic, then obviously it can be bought and sold”. I, for instance, know what the different classes of relic mean, but they don’t seem to have an obvious effect of whether or not they can be bought and sold.
Sorry, I just had to express myself fully on my confusion from your answer. I’m probably missing something…


I suspect that the limitations on buying and selling first and second class relics is because they are so scarce and it could quickly lead to abuses. By contrast, you can make an unlimited supply of third class relics simply by touching cloth or something to the saint’s grave, so there’s not much chance of a huge inflated price, nor are you trafficking actual body parts.


Of all the Catholic things I’ve had to rewrap my head around to revert, relics are the only things that weird me out. I just don’t get it but I guess I don’t need to “get” everything.


I tend to think of relics a bit like I think of my mom’s dishes (and other possessions) that I have of hers. Those dishes were so non-important in my life growing up, they were just everyday objects, yet somehow they remind me so strongly of my childhood and my mom, that they are precious to me. I also love to see my children using those dishes, although she died before two of my kids were born, it’s like the use of those dishes is a gift from her to her grandchildren that she never got to know.


If Canon Law is correct which I assume it is, of course then no class of relic can be bought or sold.
I would also assume that a third class relic is not being sold but price just covers the cost of producing a medal or card. The price cannot be raised because it includes a relic.

Canon Law does not differentiate between the classes of relics. It applies to all relics.

**Can. 1190 §1 It is absolutely wrong to sell sacred relics. **


That’s interesting that it says it’s forbidden to “sell” the relics but says nothing about buying them.

I suppose one could argue that buying the relic facilitates the sin of the seller. Also it would surely be wrong to go around offering people money proactively for a relic, for example, “Hey I’m willing to spend 5,000 dollars if you can just find me a relic of St. So-and-so.”

On the other hand, if a relic is on the market so it’s going to be sold anyway, and a Catholic felt they could give a particular relic a “good home”, it would seem to be okay to ransom the relic. If it were a first-class relic you would likely have to give it to a church but it would seem if it were a second or third class relic you could keep it.

There is a chapel in Pittsburgh (St. Anthony’s) with thousands of relics that were all bought by a wealthy, devout Catholic who went to Europe and bought them all during a time when Europe was in the throes of some kind of modernism or upheaval and everybody was getting rid of their relics, so he was able to get a lot of them for a good price. He ended up becoming a priest and building a chapel to house the whole collection of 5,000 relics. I realize he was operating under the older version of Canon Law though.


In Matthew 9:20-21, the woman touches the hem of Christ’s garment saying, “If shall touch only his garment, I shall be healed”.

In 2 Kings 13:21, when the dead man’s body touched the bones of Elisius he came back to life.

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