The document that accompanies a relic is often times referred to as the
the document there is a variety of useful and neccessary information. On the top of the
document is the name of the ecclesiastic who has authenticated the relic as genuine, this could
be the Postulator General of the religious order whose logo appears or, the Vicar
Next is the body of copy that is usally written in latin; I'll translate it into English. "To all and any who will read this document. We, the Pro-Postulator in the Cause of (Beatification and) Canonization of _____________________ guarantee and testify that from the authentic Relics, which are preserved, we have extracted a particle from ___________ of the same ________________ and have placed it in a ______ _________ case covered by crystal, bound by red colored thread and sealed with the seal of our office."
Rome ( Date ) Signature [Seal]
This document is a public acclaimation as to the authenticity of the relic itself,
of which a
high ranking ecclesiastic has signed his name. Typed or hand written into the blank areas
are the name and the abbreviation of the cause
of their sainthood and the individuals station in religious life, as well as any distinction of
honor that the Church might have placed on them posthumously. There is also a description
of the relic itself, (described below) and a description of the locket or reliquary that it is
On the bottom of the authentic is the date of issuance, the seal of the office, registrar number and the signature of the authenticateur.
Underneath the backcover of the relic locket there is a seal of red wax. The relic itself is held in place in the locket by threads that cross over it. The threads are fed through the walls of the locket on opposing sides and it is sealed shut with a wax seal bearing the insignia of issuing religious authority and their orders initials. This seal and it's locking procedure, (threads and seal) should never under any circumstances be broken. It protects the integrity and validity of the authentication. Even if the papers are lost and the seal is intact it is difficult but not impossible to have new papers generated in Rome.You can see an photo of the actual wax seal.
In the process of trying to identify the specific relic
you have accompanied by the
document you will find that the explanation will be in Latin. I have compiled a glossary to
provide you with the definitions of the most commonly used words:
arca mortuaria - mortuary box, container
arca sepulerali- coffin
breviario - breviary
coronse spinse D.N.J.C. - crown of thorns of Our Lord Jesus Christ
[cravio] corporis - body
de velo - from the veil
domini nostri jesu christi, D.N.J.C. - Our Lord Jesus Christ
domo - house
ex bireto - from the biretta
ex capillus - from the hair
ex carne - from the flesh
ex cineribus - from the ashes
ex indumento - from the clothing
ex ligneo pulvere, mixto pulveri corporis, quem residuum continebat prima capsa funeralis - from the remains of the wood, mixed with the dust of the body, the residue of which was contained in the first box, [or sarcophagus]
ex ossibus - from the bones
ex praecordis - from the stomach or intestines
ex praesepis - birthplace of D.N.J.C.
ex pelle - from the skin
ex pluviali - cope [ cloak wore for Benediction ]
ex sportula - from the little basket
ex stipite affixionis - probably means "from the whipping post"
ex strato - from the covering [ blanket ]
ex tela serica quae tetigit cor - from the silk cloth which touched the heart
ex tunica - from the tunic
Now let's move forward to the initials that follow the name to which the relic belongs:
AP. - Apostle
C. - Confessor
D. - Doctor of the Church
E. - Bishop
EV. - Evangelist
F. - Founder of Order
Lev. - Deacon
M. - Martyr
Poen. - Penitent
PP. - Pope
Reg. - King or Queen
V. - Virgin
Vid. - Widow
The next important step is to clarify the classification of the relic itself. There are three classes of relics; 1st class, 2nd class, and 3rd class.
[ 1st class ] The bodies of saintly persons or any of their integrant parts, such as limbs, ashes and bones.
[ 2nd class ] Objects that have come in physical contact with living Saints and are thereby sanctified ( for instance, the instruments wherewith a martyr has been tortured, the chains by which he was bound, the clothes he wore, objects he used).
[ 3rd class ] Bits of cloth touched to an actual 1st or 2nd class relic.
Saints Alive! home page Saints Alive home Page 2
© 1997, Saints Alive!
last edited March 21, 1998