What Counts as a Third Class Relic?

Okay…so in November of 2010 I was privileged to spend a week on the Mount of Olives with my sister who was attending a prophetic harp school (led incidentally by a Messianic Jew) at a 24hr House of Prayer. Naturally I bought all sorts of potential sacramental goodies. Now, I brought my rosaries to the Holy Sepulchre, and found myself at the 14th or 13th Station, (wherein is displayed the Mensa that Christ was laid on (as well as to the Tomb of Lazarus) and to the Site of the Crucifixion (the upstairs Shrine apparently overseen by Russian Orthodox). Would that make the rosaries (and/or other objects placed upon them) Third Class Relics, or would the item have to have been touched to the Mensa by a priest? As an aside, I was quite moved by finding myself there, and experienced a deeply personal Moment of the Spirit which I somehow feel would be cheapened if I attempted to share it publicly :blush:

(Interestingly, my former rector (an Anglo-Catholic Episcopal priest who has since been received into the Roman Communion and ordained to the Roman priesthood) at the time had an actual Relic of Pope St. Pius X (a sliver of fingernail I am thinking) that he had been given which I thought not a little awkward at first.)

If you read throughout this thread forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=553685 your likely to find the answer.


Hmmm…i think that answers it…although. nothing on the thread contradicted what I thought I knew…only it did not address the question directly of whether anyone can ‘create’ a Third Class Relic, or whether only members of the reverend Clergy can…but thanks all the same. (I also have some index cards which I placed on the Mensa (following after a group of either Hispanic or Italian (?) pilgrims who took various items and made a great showing of rubbing it over a large surface area) and now keep safely within my Saint Augustine’s Prayer Book

Yes, I would say what you have are third-class relics.

Contrary to what some others have said - and believe me, I have studied this in incredibly exhaustive detail - the Church only officially speaks about and governs by canon law first-class relics: the actual bodies or parts thereof of saints, or the instruments of the passion of the Lord, etc. Anything else is more properly considered to be a larger class of “secondary” relics: things holy through contact with the Lord, saints, etc.

There is something of a subjective element in creating third-class relics. It is not an exact science. It depends in part on your devotion and your intentions. We Catholic Christians (including Orthodox) like to touch and kiss relics. The idea of a third-class relic of any kind is to imbed that “touch” into an object that we can carry away and continue to venerate after having left the actual presence of a holy person or thing.

Does that make sense?

Oh yeah, it makes perfect sense. Why, I remember the first First Class Relic that I encountered, and kissed -a fingerbone of St. Winifride of Wales, encased in crystal. You joined the line, and when it was your turn, the priest thrust the semi-globe forward. (Cyrstal hurts, if you’re not prepared for it). And then there was the relic room at the Ladyewell at Fernyhalgh (in Lancashire): I was making an informal pilgrimage there, and volunteers were in the midst of building news cases for the many, many Relics, affixed in lots to wooden wheels (all labeled, all with provenance, and all very, very small. I could have reached out and physically touched the individual Relics, had I been mad enough to try, and been so inclined. It was an amazing experience to be in the presence of such a record of witness to Christ!

And for some reason I am constitutionally incapable from desiring to place a kiss at the feet of any statue of Our Lady (in fact I do it every time I light or douse the candles of the Ladyshrine at the back of my parish church when I acolyte), and kissing is really the only appropriate action for any Icon -its a wonder I haven’t worn my Icons clear to the other side of the plaque)

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