Relics used earlier than 300 A.D.?


#1

Is there any extra-biblical evidence that the early Christians venerated relics? (earlier than 300 A.D.)


#2

don’t know about early extra-biblical references to relics, but the Acts of the Apostles clearly shows that bits of clothing or handkerchiefs used by Peter and Paul were venerated and considered to bring the bearer close to the healing powers of their original owners. The facts of Peter’s burial, and the veneration of the burial places of the early martyrs also shows the reverence of their remains as holy.


#3

[quote=asquared]The facts of Peter’s burial, and the veneration of the burial places of the early martyrs also shows the reverence of their remains as holy.
[/quote]

Yes, that’s the kind of stuff I’m looking for! Can you explain a little further? Or show me where I can find this info??


#4

Polycarp was martyred in A.D. 155/6. This is the account of the collection of his relics recorded in the Ante-Nicene Fathers:

Chapter XVII.-The Christians are Refused Polycarp’s Body.
But when the adversary of the race of the righteous, the envious, malicious, and wicked one, perceived the impressive44 nature of his martyrdom, and [considered] the blameless life he had led from the beginning, and how he was now crowned with the wreath of immortality, having beyond dispute received his reward, he did his utmost that not the least memorial of him should be taken away by us, although many desired to do this, and to become possessors45 of his holy flesh. For this end he suggested it to Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother of Alce, to go and entreat the governor not to give up his body to be buried, “lest,” said he, “forsaking Him that was crucified, they begin to worship this one.” This he said at the suggestion and urgent persuasion of the Jews, who also watched us, as we sought to take him out of the fire, being ignorant of this, that it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole world (the blameless one for sinners46 ), nor to worship any other. For Him indeed, as being the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the Lord, we worthily love on account of their extraordinary47 affection towards their own King and Master, of whom may we also be made companions48 and fellow-disciples!

[list]Chapter XVIII.-The Body of Polycarp is Burned.

[/list]The centurion then, seeing the strife excited by the Jews, placed the body49 in the midst of the fire, and consumed it. Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified50 than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary51 of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course,52 and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps.

(Bold is mine) The author is both contemporary with Polycarp and unknown (although one EWTN library text posts it under a title “Marcion at Smyrna” (Marcion! :bigyikes: ) with the following notation:

Oldest detailed extant account of (arrest and) martyrdom of single individual. A.D. 156, to Christian community at Philomelium in Greater Phrygia. Earliest evidence for cult of martyrs, including relics; distinguished from worship due to Christ. Dying prayer of P. reminiscent of liturgical formulae.


#5

Relics in Early Christianity

The veneration of relics is seen explicitly as early as the account of Polycarp’s martyrdom written by the Smyrnaeans in A.D. 156. In it, the Christians describe the events following his burning at the stake: “We took up his bones, which are more valuable than precious stones and finer than refined gold, and laid them in a suitable place, where the Lord will permit us to gather ourselves together, as we are able, in gladness and joy and to celebrate the birthday of his martyrdom.”

In speaking of the veneration of relics in the early Church, the anti-Catholic historian Adolph Harnack writes, “. . . [N]o Church doctor of repute restricted it. All of them rather, even the Cappadocians, countenanced it. The numerous miracles which were wrought by bones and relics seemed to confirm their worship. The Church therefore would not give up the practice, although a violent attack was made upon it by a few cultured heathens and besides by the Manichaeans” (Harnack, History of Dogma, tr., IV, 313).

In the fourth century the great biblical scholar, Jerome, declared, “We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are” (Ad Riparium, i, P.L., XXII, 907). `

To see the whole article go to :

catholic.com/library/Relics.asp


#6

ooooh! this is great stuff!! :clapping: anything else??? Have Jews historically ever venerated relics??


#7

[quote=Philomena]ooooh! this is great stuff!! :clapping: anything else??? Have Jews historically ever venerated relics??
[/quote]

Point/click!

catholic-forum.com/churches/communion/eng/library/qb/224.shtml


#8

[quote=Philomena]ooooh! this is great stuff!! :clapping: anything else??? Have Jews historically ever venerated relics??
[/quote]

In the book of 2 Kings (I forget the chapter and verse) It tells how after Elisha died and was buried a burial party carrying the remains of a young man was surprised by Moabite raiders. The people threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb and fled for their lives. When the man’s body touched Elisha’s remains, he was restored to life.

This to me is a pretty clear-cut Scriptural example for the power of relics


#9

[quote=RNRobert]In the book of 2 Kings (I forget the chapter and verse) It tells how after Elisha died and was buried a burial party carrying the remains of a young man was surprised by Moabite raiders. The people threw the man’s body into Elisha’s tomb and fled for their lives. When the man’s body touched Elisha’s remains, he was restored to life.

This to me is a pretty clear-cut Scriptural example for the power of relics
[/quote]

2 Kings 13:20-21

So Eli’sha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year.
And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Eli’sha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Eli’sha, he revived, and stood on his feet.


#10

[quote=mercygate]2 Kings 13:20-21
[/quote]

Thanks! :thumbsup:


#11

[quote=Philomena]ooooh! this is great stuff!! :clapping: anything else??? Have Jews historically ever venerated relics??
[/quote]

In general Jews regarded dead bodies as unclean. Contact with one excluded one from the community, and religious celebrations, until purified - 24 hours if I remember correctly. This would seem to argue against 1st class relics.

The Elisha story seems to be an exception. I haven’t seen how they explain it.


#12

The martyrdom of St. Cyprian (A.D. 258) from the Proconsular Acts records the faithful catching the martyr’s blood in their handkerchiefs.


#13

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