I’ve seen a few posts on here regarding relics (i.e 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class) Can anyone clear up for me what theses different classifications are?


Relics of Saints fall into categories: the First Class Relic is the body or a portion of the body of a Saint (bone, flesh, or hair). These are considered so precious that they are rarely entrusted to individuals, but are placed in Faith Communities. The Second Class Relic is an item or piece of an item used by the Saint while on the body (clothing, Bible, Breviary, Mass vestments, and so on). Again, Second Class Relics are considered so precious that they are rarely entrusted to individuals, but are placed in Faith Communities. Third Class Relics typically fall into 2 categories. The first category is a piece of cloth touched to a First or Second Class Relic of the Saint. The second category, in cases where there is no known existing relic of a saint, the cloth has been touched to the shrine of the saint. Generally, the Third Class Relic is a piece of cloth, but it need not be, as long as the item so touched conveys Holiness and is touched with the intent that it be a Third Class Relic. Third Class Relics may be given to individuals, and may be sold. Fourth Class Relics are virtually the same as Third Class Relics and may be sold also.

Relics, when properly reverenced, can be powerful Sacramentals and they are not to be taken lightly. These precious gifts from our Holy Saints can afford us much protection from harm. However, these Relic Medals should always be blessed by a Deacon or Priest of the Catholic Church in order for them to become Sacramentals.


What does “conveys holiness” mean? I have never heard of that.

My understanding of holiness is that it is a decrease in sin and an increase in virtue. I don’t understand how a relic can convey holiness. Maybe I am not understanding your post correctly.



I meant that the relic is touched to the shrine with the intent to make the object holy, not the effects it will have in the possessor or user of the relic.


There are no Church documents classifying relics.

It is all based on tradition and traditionally:

A first class relic is a body part of a saint.
A second class relic is something worn, owned, used by the saint.
A third class relic is an item touched to a first class relic (not to a second class relic).

However, because so many people now want a relic the manner in which a third class relic is created has been diluted to the extent I find unacceptable but because the Church does not have a view on the classifications basically anyone can classify a third class relic as they want.


Thank you all. I was always curious of the relic we have at my mom’s school (Catholic Jr. High connected with one of the parishes in town). After seeing different people talk about classes I figured I’d ask. Now I know that it is a first class relic (piece of bone). Though I am not sure of the Saint.


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