First Class Relics

I’m not sure if this is the correct category, forgive me if it isn’t.

A Catholic friend of mine has asked on her Facebook page for anyone who knows of a reputable site where she might find a first class relic of a specific saint. Could someone please tell me what the process is to be in possession of one? Can she buy it? Can she own one at all?

It’s forbidden to purchase a relic. It would have to be given freely. I think there’s something to do with authentication of the relic and paperwork to go with it but that knowledge is beyond me.

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It is forbidden for relics to be sold. That means all relics, not just first class. Canon law does not differentiate. A possible exception might be buying one to rescue it and then give it to the Church.

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

§2 Distinguished relics, and others which are held in great veneration by the people, may not validly be in any way alienated nor transferred on a permanent basis, without the permission of the Apostolic See.

§3 The provision of §2 applies to images which are greatly venerated in any church by the people.

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It seems to me that if your friend knows the terminology, like “first class relic”, then they likely also know that they can’t own one. I would ask for some clarification. Is she asking where she could find, and then go visit one? Or if she thinks she can get one - what are her plans?

I knew a priest who had been ordained in the 1930’s. When he died, we found a number of first-class relics in his home. We made sure they ended up given back to the parish. In general, over the last 20-30-whatever years, private ownership of first-class relics is pretty heavily discouraged.

If someone wants a second or third-class relic (a personal possession of theirs would be a 2nd class relic; a third-class relic is created by touching an object to a first-class relic), they might go visit a shrine dedicated to that particular saint, and see if they can make arrangements. Especially if someone has, say, a medical condition that makes that saint’s intercession especially pertinent— I know of people who have been able to borrow relics in the past while in the hospital, etc., and experienced miracles.

A lot of places will send out third-class relics pretty readily. (St. Pio, St. Anthony, and St. Jude being the three most common to find.)

St. Michael relic stones are also relatively easy to find. The Diocese of Austin publishes a few articles on the subject periodically, and that always seems to increase demand.

The certificate is called an “authentic.” It is technically only required if the relic is going to be publicly venerated. Postulators for the cause used to distribute first class relics, but this is done very rarely now.

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