Veneration of Relics


Is it appropriate to kneel and venerate a relic? I was wondering because it reminded me of adoring the Blessed Sacrament and wanted to know if there were any rules pertaining to veneration of a relic.

Had the opportunity to venerate the blood of St. John Paul II early this morning immediately after he was canonized.


Anyone? :blush:


I was waiting to hear myself.


Yes. Most definitely.

For an official source, see here

Go to paragraph # 236


I guess I should have been more specific in my original post.

I certainly agree it is okay to venerate relics, but I was wondering about the posture – that is kneeling before the altar as if it were the Blessed Sacrament that was exposed on the altar.

Also it says on that page you linked: “The relics of the Saints should not be exposed on the mensa of the altar, since this is reserved for the Body and Blood of the King of Martyrs(330).”

Does that mean that the relic shouldn’t be on top of the altar like pictured in my OP?


More information on the public veneration of relics, general norms, rules and prohibitions, etc., can be found in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum.

Exposition on the table of the altar is prohibited, as is genuflection or other reverences accorded solely to the Blessed Sacrament (such as incensing from a kneeling position).

However, it would be inappropriate to say that the exposition in the photograph does not conform to Church regulations without knowing whether the table being used is the consecrated altar upon which the sacrifice of Mass is ordinarily performed in this church.


Frankly, yes. That’s the current liturgical norm. Until recently though, it was customary to place relics on the altar.

In the Extraordinary Form, which is still a legitimate form of the Latin Rite, the relics are still placed on the mensa.

If you noticed, at the canonization ceremony yesterday the relics of Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II (I typed those names just because I’m overjoyed that I can!) were placed on a special table or stand next to the altar—not the altar itself.

So while relics are not on the altar in the Ordinary Form, they are in the Extraordinary. It’s a minor conflict. :shrug: It’s also worth noting that when the Directory was promulgated in 2001, we did not have the same understanding of the Extraordinary Form that we have today, so we can only speculate as to what it might say in regard to this very minor conflict of rubrics. Perhaps the Holy See will update the Directory to reflect* Summorum Pontificum*? Maybe, but I doubt it’s high on their list of priorities.

In your picture, the arrangement followed the Extraordinary Form. Oh well… :wink: I don’t see why it can’t.

As far as the kneeling goes, that’s a custom that dates from time immemorial. If it’s done in private veneration, I see no issue with it.


Within the Church’s Liturgy, yes. Absolutely yes, it would be inappropriate.

But as a matter of personal piety, it’s fine. It’s part of the Church’s patrimony.

See the Directory on Popular Piety #15.


This was setup temporarily for a Mass at the St. John Paul II Shrine in DC. So I am going to agree that it was okay with it like that.


I would agree:) Especially given the great joy of the occasion!


I agree that in the EF relics are sometimes placed on the altar, but note that in many, if not most, such cases, they are actually placed on the gradine behind the altar, rather than on the mensa itself.


With due regard for the norms in the Directory on Popular Piety, I don’t take any issue with what’s show in the photograph.

For one thing, the rule about no relics on the mensa is no longer an absolute rule. It applies to one form, but not the other. For another, it seems like this is a temporary chapel, that was put together for a special occasion (or perhaps one that’s still being built but not yet complete).

I don’t see any real problem with it.


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