"Church Links Relics to Christ's Birth, Plans Unveiling" (Piece of Manger)

The Vatican, which has authenticated these small pieces of the manger and of the clothing of Many and Joseph, sent them permanently to Chicago, U.S.A… They are in Holy Family Church there.
see www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-christmas-relics-20121228,0,6103035.story

The article doesn’t indicate exactly what the Vatican authenticated. Perhaps the only thing that the Vatican authenticated was that the relics came from Vatican storage. If, however, the Vatican actually claimed that these were genuine relics of Mary and Joseph’s clothing and the manger, then I’d really like to know how they came to that conclusion.

From the linked article:

*Although the relics came with a certificate of authenticity from the Vatican, Boland is not concerned about their scientific credibility. For example, carbon testing may or may not pin down the relics’ origin during Christ’s time, he said.

“We’ll never get anywhere with that,” Boland told reporters, pointing to the objects’ intangible value. “These are objects of faith and devotion.”

How could Boland not care if the people of his parish were giving devotion to fake relics?

I’m with Cornbread on this one. I’m also finding it difficult to believe that the Vatican would permanently send such treasures, if they are authentic, to Chicago. The piece of the manger was brought back to the Vatican in the 5th century. How can they tell that it was a piece of the actual manger that Jesus slept in?

Ah, modern day Catholics. Always seeking proof.

from the article:

Although the relics came with a certificate of authenticity from the Vatican, Boland is not concerned about their scientific credibility. For example, carbon testing may or may not pin down the relics’ origin during Christ’s time, he said.

“We’ll never get anywhere with that,” Boland told reporters, pointing to the objects’ intangible value. “These are objects of faith and devotion.”

I’m not sure how to have “faith” in something no one can prove is anything to have any faith in or where any devotion comes into it.

No one can prove these things are what they are purported to be and the Vatican can only say how they came to be in the possession of the Church and what someone said they were long long after the facts.

A certificate of authenticity means that the item is an actual relic, not simply that the Vatican sent the item from storage, for example. In fact, a relic has to be authenticated by the Church before it can be venerated, according to Catholic canon law, so as to keep a fake from being publicly venerated. If this will be helpful, some fuller information on the nature of relics and on the certificate of authenticity given by the Church for relics is at saintsandrelics.blogspot.com/p/relic-terminology.html

According to the link you provided, authentication is really nothing more than certifying a chain of custody, e.g. “This bone came from the body of Saint X”. If you’re asserting that the church has gone further in the case of the items in question and also claims that those items are definitely genuine pieces of Mary and Joseph’s clothing and a piece of the manger, then I’m going to need more than that link to confirm that process.

The Shroud of Turin is venerated every day, but as far as I know, the church has never asserted conclusively that it is the burial cloth of Jesus. I suspect the same is true of these items.

Thinking of just the manger, for the relic to be true we would have to believe that the Holy Family chipped off a piece of someone else’s property to take as a souvenir? Clearly they didn’t steal it. The only other possibility is that the bought it from the owner of the stable and then lugged the whole feed-trough back to Nazareth and kept it the rest of their lives. Just not believable. Right up there with the supposed relic that is “Jesus’ foreskin,” as if a devout Jewish family would have kept such a thing…

It is impossible to “authenticate” that something is a part of the manger Jesus was placed in. And unless we can see the text of whatever authentication was with these relics, I do not believe the Church had ever said that. I also point out that the statement in the article shows there has not been any dating done to show they were even from the same century.

What we have is a lot of people throwing around a lot of language, bit no one providing any evidence.

What harm is done if what we believe to be authentic isn’t ? What builds faith is good.

Agreed. What, here, is going against the Catholic faith in any way, shape or form?

I reckon it depends upon whether the truth matters or not.

And what destroys faith is not. Catholics have the unfortunate habit of believing in the Church more than they do God. The Church is God to many, and this is a notion the Church tends to foster. However true that may be at an esoteric spiritual level, the Pope, the Vatican, the Scripture, The Rosary, all of these things that people think of when they think of the Church: not God.

Why would anyone believe in Eternal Life or miracles or angels or all the very real and true things, the Resurrection, the Hope of Heaven, when this sort of semi-superstitious practice is continued and fostered?

What happens to someone when they finally understand that no one is saying these are the actual fragments of anything connected to the Holy Family because it’s impossible to say that? What happens to someone thinking of converting when they find out these things have no provenance? This line from the story in the paper…

will formally unveil three relics that the church says are more than 2,000 years old

…is itself untrue. The Church does not say they are more than 2000 years old.

Hasn’t it ever struck people that there is a reason there are no artifacts of Jesus? That His clothes were taken and sold, He owned no property, He left no writings? Even His physical body was taken away.

We aren’t supposed to be venerating objects. We are supposed to be feeding each other. The things that actually are true, are much more astounding than some 1/5" long bit of fibers. But once part of what the faithful are supposed to accept is shown to be false, it casts doubt onto everything else.

the story of the manger is in the scriptures, the manger was real. it does not matter if the relic is the manger or not, it is a visible (almost) reminder, and, a realization of the reality of the events does hit the mind when you imagine you are looking at a piece of the manger.

the story in the scriptures is not the actual event itself either, yet the scriptures are venerated etc., the scripture story is just a second or third hand description and reminder of that event. but with another reminder, a visible, tangible thing, like a piece of the manger you can see first hand so to speak and imagine in the minds eye the events in the story and that brings you closer to them somehow.

And no matter how convincing the scientific testing, there will always be those who are not satisfied with the results. Just look at the Shroud of Turin, for example.

What is wrong in honoring such a thing and allowing it to elevate the mind to heavenly inclinations?

From the Catechism:

*2132 The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, “the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype,” and “whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it.” The honor paid to sacred images is a “respectful veneration,” not the adoration due to God alone:

Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose *image it is.

The fact that people believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but cannot believe that another miracle like pieces of his manger staying intact over a period of years could possibly have occurred, seems totally strange to me. What’s the block, here?

I don’t think anyone has alleged that the survival of these items is miraculous in and of itself, since it’s entirely possible for fabric and wood to last longer than 2,000 years. What I question about them is their provenance, i.e. a documented history going back to the 1st century conclusively tying them to Mary and Joseph.

Catholics are required to believe in the resurrection, among very few other miracles. It seems inappropriate to use that requirement as a blunt instrument to coerce their acceptance of every and any other alleged “miracle”. Is there any miracle accepted by other Catholics that you don’t accept? If there is, then they could use that same argument against your non-acceptance of their miracle.

you are using an argument foreign to catholicism. remember that it is catholicism that holds and teaches people to ‘go the extra mile’, be generous, etc. that is why catholicism has retained all of its ancient traditions over two thousand years while all non-catholic christians chart a continuous progression of shedding more and more traditions and teachings.

catholicism is a hoarder of ancient tradition, it trusts itself throughout its history to preserve and provide the truth faithfully.
your argument is foreign to this way of being; your way is distrustful, ungenerous, and disregarding of tradition. its more like a reactionary protestant fundamentalist who eradicates the old because it is tradition and can neither be proven nor trusted.
catholicism is much more interesting than either this type of distrustful thinking or that other type, the scientific literal-thinking type, which demands proof. catholicism has those qualities of expansive generosity, faith, and trust which make it very attractive because these are positive qualities; whereas your arguments will necessarily always be an increasingly constrictive set of negativity.

Great post. In this, the Year of Faith, perhaps we should be learning more about our roots and where things like this come from, instead of dismissing them out of hand.

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