Forlorn.of.thee (fa'lo:n ŭv thē), p, my only strength and stay,forlorn of thee, whither shall I betake me, where subsist?
Paradise Lost by John Milton

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Sometime ago, I went to this quaint trendy church in inner Sydney, one where they still celebrate mass in Latin. The air was thick with incense, congregation starts off chanting the Asperges; during the service, we (yes we!) sing the Kyrie and the choir then joins in with some Gregorian Chant and Renaissance polyphony.   Oh...  and the priests face the altar, not the congregation.

Note the position of the altar

But I digress.... on November 1, All Saints Day, this Church brings out all their relics and display them on the altar. What relics you may ask? Bone fragments of the twelve Apostles, veil of Mary, splinter from the cross Jesus was crucified on and many, many more. I was shocked (and awed !).

Do such things exist? Well, the Crown of Thorns can be found at Notre Dame

The Catholic Church keeps bits and pieces of many saints. Once in a while, the Vatican doles out a piece, encased in a monstrance or case, to churches, bishops and priests worldwide. These bits can be 1st class relics, bone, flesh or hair, second class, an item used by the saint or third class, something touched to a first or second class relic.

Monstrance with the bone fragment of each Apostle
Note: I held this!

What happens when a bishop dies, a parish church closes or broken into? Personal possessions of the bishop can be sold and many land up on eBay.

Yes, I've bought a splinter of the True Cross. Call me an idiot, gullible, whatever. But then, it's all about faith eh?


Lilly said...

Wow, that is fascinating. Reminds me of my childhood masses, well not Latin masses, bit before my time but certainly some of the hymns were in Latin. I have never thought about church relics. I have visted St Peters Cathedral but apart from tombs do not recall other items. My daughter lives next to this gay couple in Melbourne. The older of the two is in his 70s and a devout Catholic. He collects all sorts of church treasures too. He also does asset registers for churches and has done this right round Australia. It is hard to believe how much they are worth - amazing. He had some tabernacle covers he was showing me last time i saw him and I told them I would ebay them for him as exotic bird cage covers - he was not laughing. some of the materials used and trimmings just for these are exquisite. I am now inclined to go and have a look on Ebay myself. Fabulously interesting post, thank you! And yes, it is all about faith and the older I get the more I find I have.

Young Werther said...

Lilly, if you're relic shopping you have to go to eBay's global site (no au). Guess Aussies not really into these things..

Jo Dee said...

If it makes you feel closer to God as you interpret him, then that is what counts.


Lisa said...

Wow that is such an excellent experience! I want to see buy a relic.. sheash.. but how do you really know if it's the true deal? I got some holy water from The Fatima, that was a really special trip with my grandmother that I will never forget. I have never had the chance to visit mass in Latin, that will be on my bucket list :) Thanks!! Great post