Catholic relics - is this one a step too far?


What about churches dedicated to the Sacred Heart, for example? Or Our Lady?


I’m all for displaying first class relics of the saints. It is a great honour to be in such direct contact with a saint who is spiritually in Heaven and will be one day united with those earthly remains in Heaven. These remains are not only a physical and direct link with the distant past but also a physical and direct link to the future to the end of time.

I tried to track down as many relics as I could when I was in Europe last year. It was a wonderful adventure. I’ll have to admit though that the head of John the Baptist (Amiens Cathedral, France) was the most scary first class relic. It had gone black and was mumified - just the front of the face on a golden and jewelled plate - and you were allowed to see it at a range of a few centimetres away. It used to be displayed only once per year.

But as someone else has already noted, we of the English speaking world are too removed from death and the dead these days that it shocks many to see human remains. The continental Europeans, Latin Americans etc., are much less fussed about human remains.


I think I have just seen:eek: more than I ever wanted to of Oliver Plunkett…
On the other hand, the fact that his head was rescued from the desrespect/destruction of the rest of his body…I guess I would say that the church with his head–Well, it sort of is his only gravesite…
But then, :oI am the woman who kept a box with a friend’s mother’s cremains in the back of my closet for a couple of years while the family fought out what to do with them…


[quote=Guyonthestreet;]the preserved bodies not being subject to decay as a sign to the faithful of the persons holiness. Which I suppose would make them and their lives at least worthy of contemplation.

That phenomena has also been observed in the bodies of some Hindu, Buddhist, and Daoist priests whose bodies weren’t disposed of as Tradition demands.



Do any other christian denominations keep relics and venerate them?


Well, the Orthodox churches do; I doubt that Protestants do, as this would smack to them of “papist” practice.


LOL how did I know that this was going to be a bog mummy?

I do think that the whole body parts thing is a little macabre, something about the dismembering creeps me out. I’m not as bothered by a whole body having dealt with death enough, but the violent deaths and/or post mortem seperation of pieces bothers me.


I thought of the mummies I’ve seen in museums when I saw the head.
Finding a display like that in a church, if you weren’t aware of it, would probably be shocking at first.

The mummified head would be less disturving to me than one that looks like it had been removed just yesterday.

A whole body, though, wouldn’t bother me at all. If it looked like a mummy, it would be no different from mummies in museums, and if it looked fresh, it would be like going to a wake.


As a point of interest St. Plunkett’s descendant’s have been of great importance in Irish affairs through the centuries. Most well known in Ireland is Joseph Mary Plunkett, who was one of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation:-

He was also a devout Catholic as much of his poetry makes plain, I include a very well known example below:-

I see His Blood Upon the Rose

I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.

I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.

All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.

If you read the biography above you will see the particularly heart-wrenching circumstances under which this young man married. His aide-de-camp btw was Michael Collins whom I’m sure some Americans of Irish descent here will be familar with. Joseph Plunkett’s father was also just as a point of interest a Papal count.

His cousin Lord Dunsany is famous as one of the chief inspirations for modern fantasy writing and Sir Horace Plunkett was one of the early organisers of the co-operative farming movement.


Saints bodies or relics from saints were very popular in the early church coming out of biblical times. The garment Jesus was wearing healed the woman with a blood issue, the hankerchief of the apostle healed, the bones of an old testament prophet brought back a person to life.

So relics and Saints body parts were commonly placed under the Catholic Church altars, when heaven and earth meet in the Mass from;

Revelations 6:9
When he broke open the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar 8 the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God.
They cried out in a loud voice, "How long will it be, holy and true master, 9 before you sit in judgment and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?"
Each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to be patient a little while longer until the number was filled of their fellow servants and brothers who were going to be killed as they had been.

This ancient Christian practice bonified the communion of Saints doctrine and God being the God of the living not the dead…


Protestants don’t have any relics because there are no holiness in the people that would make them a Saint. For only the Catholic church has the holiness and the incorruptible bodies of people who were martyred for the faith. People who were still incorruptible after some 500 years or more are still preserved.
As for praying for the dead, it dates back to the early church around 70 A.D. when on the walls of the Catacombs, they left prayers for the dead. There are even prayers written on the wall for St. Paul.


So you are saying there is no holiness in protestants?? :confused:

Have you read what your own pope and catechism has to say on the matter?

Do you disagree with the catechism of the catholic church?

Wow - I thought it was even earlier as catholics quote Maccabees as evidence of praying for the dead. I think Maccabees 1 and 2 date from 175 - 135 BC. But Im not a catholic, so what do I know :wink:



Could the same devotion and blessings not be displayed/invoked, if the head/body was buried with dignity somewhere?

Given that everyone knows the guys in question are holy, martyrs, and devoted their lives to God, is there a specific reason to parade the head around other than tradition?

I guess it’s a personal thing for me.

To me, personally, there is something deeply degrading to the humanity of someone to have their head seperated from their body.

Oliver Plunkets body is somewhere - I cant rememeber where now or what the church is called - I cant see why this martyr of the church shouldnt have his body and head brought together and for him to be interred somewhere.

It wouldnt stop the faithful praying to him - hes a saint now - and where ever he is interred would be his shrine.

But he would at least be given the dignity in death he was not shown in life.

Ive read a lot around relics now. Things like cloth, wood, medals etc I can now understand better - but not parading a human head about the place.


No one is denying that. No doubt that degradation is precisely why beheading was invented.

But in his case, the separation was done by those who killed him. Not by the church. Since he cannot be reassembled, and it makes no difference to him anymore, there is no reason for the church to not use his head as a visible reminder of a holy life and death.


I’ll take your word for that.

But I do know that when the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool, UK, was doing some building work, some coffins had to be removed, as I described on another thread. At least one of the coffins broke open, and it was clearly seen that the 200 year old body was perfectly preserved. It turned out that a previously-unknown underground chalybeate spring had been penetrating the coffins, and the chemicals had preserved them. These were the bodies of just ordinary local people (who may have been saints in God’s eyes, of course, who knows).

A body being preserved or not is not taken as proof of holiness when a candidate is being investigated for canonisation.


What was this post supposed to acheive besides been blatantly insulting to Protestants?


Thank you. I was over here in the Methodist Amen Corner :hmmm:wondering the same:ouch: thing.


I am not insulting. It is what it is. That’s the problem, because there are divisions from the Catholic church, you assume it is insulting to say anything against Protestanism. Well, I don’t sugar coat anything sir, to me anything outside the Catholic church is incorrect doctrine. period.


Furthermore, I am insulted when non-Catholic’s make fun of the Saints and their relics. PERIOD. Oh, but that’s ok.

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