2 entries from May 2011
Many commenters on my previous post about the trappings of Easter were surprised at how a visit to a Catholic place of worship in Europe can unsettle you. Nothing shows this so much as the display of relics.
A relic, in the technical sense, is some physical souvenir of the life of a saint. It can be an object, such a a rosary or a scrap of clothing. But the most favoured relics are a little more intimate. Pieces of the saint, in person, come highly prized. The faithful often create quite ornate displays for these pieces, and it becomes a shrine, or reliquary.
Reliquaries sometimes have their own chapel. Often, they remain on display in a parish church with which the saint had a connection. So one can find oneself sitting next to a bone or two in the middle of a service or concert. Over Easter, we found ourselves by a hip joint in St. Anna's Franciscan convent church, as we enjoyed a brass quintet play the Messiah. The reoubtable Irish Gumbo asked if the music seemed any hipper. Alas, no.
Mark, a longtime reader of this blog, notes that St. John the Baptist must have had three heads and five arms, when you count his bits on show across Europe and the Middle East.
The Imperial Cathedral at Speyer plays host to the shrine above. That festooned femur once braced the thigh of Father Paul Josef Nardini, who co-founded the Franciscan order of the Holy Family in the 1800s. (Franciscans in this part of the world are gung-ho on saintly glutes, I notice.)
The pope officially recognised his qualifying miracle (cancer remission in a sister of the order he founded) in 2006, so he's still a bit of a newbie. He sounds like he was a decent chap and cool dude. Cool enough to have his own website, at least. And a facebook page, with three fans. I'm one of them.
EDIT: Check out this discovery from Resident on Earth.