Relics

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

DSC02998There’s nothing like visiting a cathedral or basilica and being moved by the art and dedication of the faithful who built and worshiped for centuries. It is a faith-moment to be part of worship with a quick prayer or lighting a candle or just sitting a while and absorbing the sacrifice that went before.

But I find it jarring when I gaze on some altars or venture into a little chapel and have a skull staring back at me. And it’s not just skulls, it’s all sorts of body parts.

I gazed on St. Anthony’s tongue in Padua and St. Catherine’s tibia in Sienna, andĀ entire skeletons of lesser saints all over Italy and Germany.

These are ‘relics; a portion of the body of a deceased saint that is venerated, are even dressed in gold and precious gems in some instances. They are encased in glass coffins and display cases and displayed prominently.

I guess at one time the Catholic Church in Rome had (or still has) quite a cache of these tidbits to bestow upon churches as reward or to gain favor. Here in Munich the chief congregation was gifted with more relics than anywhere else in Europe because they, at one time, were the anti-reformation leaders . Rome battled fiercely against LutherĀ and his followers and if a congregation was given a relic, it would inspire wavering believers to feel special and keep their allegiance to their Catholic Church.

The Dome Church Frauenkirche here in downtown Munich, is the home church of Pope Benedict. He served here many years before being called to Rome. I wonder how he feels about relics, there might be a glass box here for him someday?

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