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Frequently Asked Questions
about the
TYPES OF HOLY RELICS

Q. 1. How many types of Relics is there in the Catholic Church?

A. 1.The "types" of Relics are called "Classes" of Relics. There are three Classes of Relics in the Catholic Church.

Q. 2. What are the Classes of Relics?

A. 2. The 1st Class Relic consists of a part of the Saint, such as a bone, hair, etc..., and the instruments of Christ's Passion.

The 2nd Class Relic consists of something that was owned by the Saint or instruments of torture that was used against a martyr.

The 3rd Class Relic consists of something that has been touched to a 1st or 2nd Class Relic. Anyone can make their own 3rd Class relics by touching an object to a 1st or 2nd Class Relic, including the tomb of a Saint.

Q. 3. Where does one find a Relic in a Church or Chapel?

A. 3. The Relics that you find in Churches and Chapels are usually kept in one of two places. A Relic may be kept in a cavity ("sepulchre") inside the Altar. Or it may be in a "reliquary." Relinquaries come in various forms, such as boxes, Noah's Ark, caskets, the shape of a body part such as an arm or a leg. Usually they are decorated in gold and silver.

Q. 4. Is there anything said in the Church Canon law regarding Relics?

A. 4. Yes. In Canon Law # 1190, there is a reference to the treatment of Relics.

"1 It is absolutely wrong to sell sacred relics."

"2 Distinguished relics, and others which are held in great veneration by the people, may not validly be in any way alienated nor transferred on a permanent basis, without the permission of the Apostolic See."

The selling of Relics is called "simony." While it is wrong to sell Relics, one is allowed to buy them if they are privately sold when buying them would save the Relics from desecration. This must be done only if the good that comes from buying the relic outweighs other uses the money spent could be used for. The buying of Relics at auctions or ebay should never be done. This is because bidding on them would drive up the price, forcing others to pay more when they too may be attempting to rescue the Relics. Such actions also encourage the money makers to increase the likelihood of a market developing in the sale of relics.

Q. 5. How does a person get a relic?

A. 5. Relics can be obtained from different Church sources such as the vicariate in Rome, the religious Order of the Saint involved, the shrine of the Saint involved, etc... When this is done, a donation is usually expected to cover the cost of the metal container (theca) that contains the relic. But, in all cases, no one is allowed to make a profit from the sale of Relics.



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