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AGNUS DEI: The figure of a lamb stamped on the wax which remains from the Pascal candle, and solemnly blessed by the Pope on the Thursday after Easter, in the first and seventh years of his Pontificate. A bull of Gregory XIII forbids a person to paint or gild any Agnus Dei blessed by the Pope, under pain of excommunication.

ALTAR-STONE: Altars and altar-stones are consecrated by the bishop with ceremonies prescribed in the Pontifical. The most important part of the rite consists in the anoiting with chrism, and the placing of relics in the sepulchre or repository made in the altar-stone and afterwards sealed up. The consecration endures till the altar-stone is broken or the seal of the relics is broken.

ANTIMENSION: A very important symbolic altar furnishing of the Byzantine Rite, whether Catholic or Orthodox. It is a rectangular piece of linen or silk about 18" square. It has relics of the saints sewn into it and is consecrated by a Byzantine rite Bishop during a long ceremony which he anoits the relics and the antimension with the holy oil called Sacred Chrism.

BEATIFICATION: A stage in the process of canonization, involving a declaration by the Pope that the candidate is enjoying heavenly bliss and can be venerated locally.

CANONIZATION: A solemn definitive act by which the Pope admits a candidate into the calendar of saints.

CAPSULE: Diminutive of the Latin capsa,chest: a small and often round air-tight receptacle suitable for the preservation of delicate relics, dust, drops of oil or water, tiny fragments of bone, etc.

CULT: Veneration ( or honoring ) of a saint expressed in public acts, local or universal, and formally approved by the Pope.

CUSTODIAL: A vessel for preserving sacred objects such as relics.

DOCTORS of the CHURCH: Saints whose writings on doctrine have a special authority; recognized by the Pope.

FERETORY: From the Greek pheretron,bier: a large reliquary shrine in the form of a sarcophagus or coffin with a parallelepipedal container surmounted by a roof with two slopes ( a saddleback roof) in a manner of a catafalque.

HAGIOGRAPHY: From the late Latin usage, "that which is written about the saints": the type and also the body of literature and knowledge based on written sources and relating to the lives, sufferings, and miracles of the saints.

HOLY ROOD: The "True Cross",i.e. the cross on which Christ was crucified and died.

INVENTION: From the Latin invenire,to come upon: the discovery, whether accidental or deliberate, of the saint in its original burial place (loculus or cubiculum), leading to its veneration and possible translation.

LOCULUS: Diminutive of the Latin locus, place: used to refer to the small enclosed space of a Christian tomb, usally an old one, that was held by collective memory to be that of a holy person, if not actually a martyr.

MARTYR: Someone who chooses death rather than to renounce his faith.

MARTYRIUM: In medieval Latin, a small funerary edifice marking the tomb of a Christian martyr.

MENSA: The flat top of an altar which was the site of the offertory and sacrament of the Eucharist.

MONSTRANCE [Ostensorium]: A vessel with transparent sides of crystal or glass in which the Blessed Sacrament is exposed for Benediction, or which can be used in the veneration of a relic(s).

RELICS: Bodily remains - or belongings - of a saint which become the object of a cult authorized by the Pope.

SUSCEPTION: In this context a ritual act whereby with due ceremony a priest takes delivery of a relic.

TERTIARY: A lay person belonging to a religious order, who lives a holy life in the community rather than observing a strict religious rule; thus member of a third order.

TECA: Often used in reference to the locket in which the relic itself is mounted.

TRANSLATION: A ritual, legal, and canonical operation whereby the body of a saint is removed from its original burial place to a position - often in or near the chancel of a church - where it can be more conveniently venerated by the faithful.

VENERATION: Reverence for a person or object.

VICAR-GENERAL: A bishop's representative or assistant in matters of law or administration.

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Last edited March 21, 1998