Why disturb a saint's remains?

We are rejoicing here in Syracuse about having the remains of Mother Marianne Cope, a nun with the Sisters of St. Francis who ministered to those suffering from Hansen’s disease (leprosy) in Hawaii, and whose path has been cleared for beatification, returned to Syracuse. There is a bit of carping in the letters to the editor and such places regarding why the Catholic Church has her remains disturbed. I understand that it is a Church requirement that the remains of one whose cause for sainthood has progressed to this level be made available to the faithful. How would I go about, in a loving way, explaining to others why the Church does this?

Many thanks, and God bless.

Dear bg,

There have been several times that the remains of a holy person have remained intact. When St. Dominic’s remains were exhumed they were found to have a wonderful fragrance that remained with them for days. Such discoveries can be strong evidence of the person’s holiness. Besides, exhuming the remains in an effort to determine the person’s sanctity is not disturbing them. It’s not a matter of doing them damage or of showing them disrespect. Quite the contrary!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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