“Imagine if you died and everyone thought you were a saint, Mum. They’d all come along with their scissors and cut bits off your clothing,” says Sophie.

“They’d have to keep redressing you, like they did for Rose of Lima,” adds Gemma-Rose. “They had to replace her habit a number of times.”

“They might snip your hair too,” says Charlotte. "You don’t think anyone would try to saw off a finger while no one was looking, do you? Everyone will want a relic of their own.”

Now if anyone did manage to sneak off with my hair or blood or bones, they’d end up with a first class relic (assuming I was holy enough, of course.) All the snipped pieces of my clothing would be considered second class relics. And if anyone missed out on these types of relic, they could always make some third class relics of me by touching pieces of cloth to someone else's first or second class relics. People could even get their very own relic by visiting my grave and touching their items to my tombstone. 

Imagine! Bits and pieces of me could end up in the possession of lots of different people from all around the world. I might even be sold, though that's really against Church law. I could end up on ebay. They have quite a variety of relics up for auction. I know because I had a look. But I 'm guessing most of these are only 3rd class relics. I don't suppose anyone would try and sell a saint's bone or blood online. Or would they?

I wonder if there are false relics waiting for the unsuspecting buyer. How would anyone know? I guess if there were 15 fingers all claiming to be relics of St Sue Elvis, it would mean I either had 3 hands or some fingers weren’t mine to begin with.

So why would anyone want a relic? I guess it’s a bit like wanting to keep a few locks of hair or the special belongings of a loved one. They connect us to that person. And if that person was holy, the relic might inspire us to pray to him with full confidence that he will intercede for us with God. Miracles have been associated with the veneration of genuine relics, though they aren't magic charms. And prayers aren't always answered in the way we ask.

I have a relic of a saint, a 2nd class one. It’s a small circle of brown cloth that used to be part of one of St Padre Pio’s habits. It is enclosed in a hard transparent bubble of plastic, attached to the back of a medal. My friend John lent me this relic when I was pregnant with Thomas: “You can give it back to me after your baby is born. Perhaps Padre Pio will intercede for you. Maybe your baby will be blessed with a miracle of healing.” Perhaps he wouldn't die after birth like the doctors predicted.

For many months Padre Pio’s relic hung around my neck. It went with me to doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds. I closed my fingers around it while I heard bad news, while I prayed, while I cried, while I hoped, while I tried not to despair at the thought of our baby's death. I was wearing the relic when Thomas was born and when Thomas died.

When it was time to return the relic to John, I hesitated. A miracle might not have been granted to us because of the relic, but I still didn’t want to part with it. I associated it so closely with Thomas. Would John let me keep it just a little longer, until I felt stronger?

And then something unexpected occurred. Before I had time to ask my favour of John, he said, “Sue! That relic I gave you… keep it. I came across another one exactly the same. I don’t need two relics.” How does one just ‘come across’ another identical St Padre Pio relic? I did hear that quite a few relics were made from this saint's habits. They were given to those who donated money so his cause for beatification could go ahead. But even so...

I actually have more than one relic. Thomas is also a saint because he died as an innocent child. His locks of hair and his bloodstained gown are first class relics, while his hospital ear muffs, foot prints and hand prints are second class ones. I suppose I could make some third class ones but there doesn't seem much point.

So I have relics of both Thomas and Padre Pio, who are in Heaven together. For some reason, this seems so awesome. 

“If you are recognised as a holy person when you die, Mum,” says Imogen, “we’ll have to bury you quickly. If we wait too long, you might disappear altogether, transformed into relics.”

If I die as a holy person (don't laugh) I could be in great demand. Would anyone like to get in first? Would you like a snipped out circle of my cast-off clothing... just in case?

Post a Comment

  1. Sue, funny yet poignant post. Save a lock of red hair for me :)

    It's beautiful how you connect the joy of Thomas and Padre Pio both being Saints in God's Heaven. Seems Padre Pio wanted you to keep his relic. He must be watching over you in a very special way.

    I have a first class relic of St.Therese. A dear man I only knew from the Internet sent it to me before he died of cancer. I had wanted one for so long. It was a miracle to me that he chose to give me (a stranger) something so precious. I look at it and often think that I possess a part of that holy body which suffered so much during the last 18 months of her life. It is an awesome thought, and one which I need to meditate on more when I am going through my own little sufferings. Knowing Therese's love of priests, I hope to pass it along, at some point, to a priest who truly loves her.

    So, future St.Sue, what will you be patroness of? Bloggers, maybe...no, I think something much more important, much more consoling.

    Love to you, my friend! xoxo

    1. Patricia,

      It has just occurred to me that saving locks of hair and cast-off clothing isn't very humble. I am hardly saint material if I've got all my relics sorted out before I die!

      My son Callum's confirmation sponsor is Padre Pio. Callum was confirmed the year after this saint was canonised. So we have another connection with Padre Pio!

      You have a 1st class relic of St Therese? Wow! How precious. It is so awesome just pondering the connection between the relic in our hands and the saint in Heaven, isn't it? I am sure you will find the right person to give the relic to, at the right time.

      Patroness of body butterers... don't forget I'm going to be an Incorruptible!

      Love to you too!

  2. I have some future St. Sue relics, already, but I'll put an order in for a finger, too - the writing one (do you one-finger type, by any chance? My finger would be more meaningful if you do). I can see how 15 fingers could cast doubt on the credibility of a relic. Hmmm...perhaps, I should have all ten.

    It's wonderful that you have relics of Thomas. I'm glad your relics were a comfort. Possessions and clothing do connect us to a person, don't they? I don't have any relics (besides my 2nd class St. Sue ones) but we have some Lourdes water.

    Great post, Sue:-)

    1. Vicky,

      You want a finger or ten? Now wanting ALL my fingers is a bit greedy, don't you think? I suppose you could always share them by selling a few on ebay. Isn't it amazing what you can buy on ebay?

      I am glad to have my Thomas things. I was very possessive of them at one time thinking they were all I had left of him. But I think I would survive if my relics ever got burnt or lost. I would still have Thomas even if there was no evidence he'd ever existed.

      Lourdes water? I have some of that too. Felicity brought it home when she went to WYD some years ago.

      Thank you for reading yet another of my posts!

  3. Patricia said exactly what I was coming here to say - funny yet poignant.

    Patroness of bloggers might be just the thing! Maybe your blogging digits will remain incorrupt. :)

    I've enjoyed Dr. Seuss' ABC book for many years, but I'm beginning to think St. Sue's ABCs have surpassed an old fave. Well, whaddya know...

    1. Nancy,

      This story didn't know if it was supposed to be funny or sad. It ended up a mixture of both.

      My blogging digits might indeed remain incorruptible if I remember to smother them with body butter every night!

      What a compliment, comparing my ABC with Dr Seuss! He's a favourite of ours too.

      I've been thinking about those ladybug's eyelashes... I think I've got a story... letter V, I think!

  4. Maybe you should start saving your haircuts now ... you know, to satisfy the demand should you end up dying a saint.

    1. Kellie,

      I always wondered whether there was a use for cut off hair. It seems rather a waste just to sweep it up and throw it away. From now on I shall be asking my hairdresser if I can take it home. I don't know whether I should tell her why I want it. She might think I am a bit weird! Thanks for the suggestion!

  5. Hello saint Sue, patroness of body butterers, This blog post is thought provoking and funnily uplifting at the same time. Like guardian angles those second and third class relics took some tine getting used to, when i enterd the Church. But once you've said yes to the Church, you realize that it all fits together like pieces of a puzzle. We just have to educate eyes and minds to see the way God does.

    1. Uglemor,

      You are a convert too? Did I know that? Perhaps I just forgot. You are quite right: some things to do with the Church seemed strange at first but everything fell into place with time. Yes, we do see with human eyes. "We just have to educate eyes and minds to see the way God does." Yes! I also like your analogy of a puzzle.

      I really think I will have to think of a better cause to be patron of, if I want everyone to take my quest for sainthood seriously. Patron saint of body butterers: everyone will just laugh and not even consider if I am holy or not!

  6. Sue - great post! we went to an exhibition of relics recently, over 150 of them. It was phenomenal! So many of my favorites. the kids enjoyed it and were particularly reverent. My dh and I even smelled roses and smoke around various relics.

    also, i've been wearing the shirt and jacket of my sibling who recently passed away. those things do bring comfort in the beginning.

    we, too, love Padre Pio. we went to see him :) on our honeymoon.

    1. Missy,

      It is so lovely to see you here on my blog! We haven't chatted for a long time.

      An exhibition of relics? Wow! I've only seen a few relics. Our local monastery has a relic of St Faustina. After Mass, Father encourages each family to kneel together and then he blesses them with the relic.

      I am very out of date with everyone's news. I am sorry to hear about your sibling. It must be very painful losing someone you grew up with. I can imagine the comfort the clothes bring to you. I shall pray.

      God bless!

    2. Sue,

      It has been awhile since we've chatted. I do hope all is well with you. I wanted to pass on the link of the exhibition in case you want to take a peak. http://treasuresofthechurch.com/ I do love St. Faustina. That's wonderful what your priest does. Thanks for the prayers. I actually didn't really grow up with this brother since he was 21 years older than I, but he was more like a father to me in many regards. We were very close, so thanks for the prayers.

    3. Missy,

      We are well, thank you! We're enjoying some free time. It's the official school holidays at the moment.

      Thank you so much for the link. I will enjoy looking at the exhibition after I have finished this comment!

      I will keep you and your brother in my prayers.

      God bless!

  7. I have to say that as a protestant Christian, I have absolutely know idea how relics and praying to saints work. Still, I think it's a nice thought to have something to hold on to in times of need.

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    1. Misha,

      I used to be a Protestant Christian too. If anyone had told me about relics at that time, I would have thought they were rather a weird idea! It's funny how I came to accept so many things I never thought I would. Maybe I understand better now. Anyway, I think you are right: at the very least, it's comforting to hold onto something that belongs to someone we love and respect.

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog. I'm looking forward to visiting yours!

  8. Very, very nice piece Sue. Glad I found your blog.

    1. John,

      Thank you for your kind words! I am pleased to meet you and will visit your blog soon.

  9. Hello, Sue! I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade, but I never got into religious relics. It was cool seeing things like that when we had Reflection days in school (day trips somewhere religious) but I understood my prayers woudn't be answered any better or faster because of the relics. It was interesting to see, though!

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

    1. Laura,

      Relics are interesting! Yes, they aren't a magic charm, guaranteed to answer our prayers. Maybe some people look upon relics as superstitions. I do think though that having a relic is very special. We can pray with confidence, knowing our heavenly friends are interceding for us. Of course, my prayers weren't answered as I'd have liked, but I still feel that Padre Pio is connected to us and did pray for us. I have full confidence things turned out perfectly regardless!

      Thank you for visiting my blog and stopping to say hello. I will be over to see you soon!

  10. A couple more thoughts - I agree so much with Uglemor. I didn't understand any of this before I became a Catholic but, after my conversion, it all fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and it helped me to grow in faith. I think God uses our senses in a wonderfully comforting way to draw us closer to Him.

    Also, museums keep priceless artefacts of pagan rulers and Godless kings. Why is it any worse to treasure the possessions of saintly people and our loved ones?

    Just thoughts:-)

    1. Vicky,

      Thank you for your additional thoughts. Yes, everyone accepts the artefacts in museums as being very special. People like to think, "Wow! This cup...coat...pen... was used by... This is the mummy of King..." We stand in awe, pondering how these things are still here, but their owners are gone. The artefacts are valuable and treasured. Likewise, we should value the relics of our saints and loved ones who have gone before us.

      I was also thinking about how the veneration of relics points to our bodies being a very special part of us. It's not only our souls which are important. There are references in the Bible to veneration of the remains of various people. I could look them up but haven't got them right at my finger tips. They would be easy to find though.

      " I think God uses our senses in a wonderfully comforting way to draw us closer to Him." I think you are so right!

      God bless!


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