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     The Saints Alive apostolate is a combination of religious and laity working together to commemorate the dignity, lives, trials, martyrdoms, and the examples of our brothers and sisters who are a treasure in a rich tradition that has been bestowed by God upon His Church.
     Saints Alive has a collection of over 600 documented relics of individual saints, as well as relics of Our Lord's Passion and the Blessed Virgin. In recent times we have been invited to exhibit and discuss the lives and legends of the saints at 17 Catholic Churches. We have also been invited by 4 religious communities.
     According to the documents of Vatican II, "the member who fails to make his proper contribution to the development of the Church must be said to be useful neither to the Church nor to himself". We are here to hopefully make at least a little difference, to help perpetuate the veneration of "the holy bodies of saintly martyrs and othes now living with Christ, whose bodies were the living members of Christ and the temple of the Holy Ghost".

Who Are The Saints?
     The saints are those who by their good lives have reached heaven, whose union with God is ascertained by miracles and their veneration is approved by the Church after adequate proof that they are with God.

Why Do We Honor The Saints?
1. They are God's friends.
2. They have added in life, some by their knowledge, some by their culture, all by teaching us how to live rightly.
3. They have achieved the highest distinction - union with God for all eternity.

How Are Relics Classified?
     By (holy) relics we understand (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 that have been touched to an actual 1st or 2nd class relic.

Are Relics Received and Venerated Without Proof That They Are Genuine?
     No. The Catholic Church is very prudent in this matter, and her law declares that those relics alone may be publicly venerated which have authentic documents accompanying them, and proving them to be genuine. These documents can be given only by one authorized by the Holy See to grant them. If the document is lost, no relic may be offered for public veneration by the faithful without a special decree from a Bishop who can guarantee the relic as genuine. But even should a Catholic venerate as a relic some object which is not authentic, such veneration is at least well meant, and directed towards the one whom the object is believed to represent.

Do Catholics Worship Relics of Saints?
     They do not worship relics as they worship God, by adoration. If you mean worship in the sense of honor or veneration, then Catholics certainly venerate the relics of Saints. The law, "Honor thy father and thy mother," extends to their persons, body and soul; to their reputations, and to all connected with them. We reverence their remains even after death. And if we are not to venerate the remains of relics of the Saints who have been so entirely consecrated to God, are we to desecreate them? Or are we to be blandly indifferent to them as to the bleached bones of some dead animal lying in the fields? The Catholic doctrine, forbidding adoration, yet commanding respect and veneration, is the only possible Christian conduct.

Thesis: The veneration of relics is licit and useful. This thesis embodies an article of faith.
Proof: The 7th Ecumenical Council (A.D. 787) - condemned "those who dare to reject any one of the things which are entrusted to the Church, the Gospel, or the sign of the cross, or any pictorial representation, or the holy relics of a martyr".
     The Council of Trent - enjoins bishops and pastors to instruct their flocks that "the holy bodies of saintly martyrs and others now living with Christ - which bodies were the living members of Christ and the temple of the Holy Ghost and which are by Him to be raised unto eternal life and glorified - are to be venerated by the faithful, for through these (bodies) many benefits are bestowed by God on men; so that they who affirmed that veneration and honor are not due to the relics of Saints, or that these and other sacred monuments are uselessly honored by the faithful, . . . are wholly to be condemned, as the Church has already long since condemned and now also condemns them".

Is There Proof In The Sacred Scriptures?
Old Testament New Testament
Cfr. Ex. XIII, 19
4 Kings XIII, 21
Ecclus. XLIX, 18
2 Kings, 13:20-21
Matt. IX, 20
Acts V, 15-16
Acts XIX, 11
Acts 19:11-12

When Did Christians First Start Venerating Relics?
     The veneration of holy relics is an ancient practice in the Church:
     As we read in the Acts of St. Polycarp (composed about A.D. 156): "We adore Him (Christ), because He is the Son of God, but the martyrs we love as disciples and imitators of the Lord . . Then we buried in a becoming place his (St. Polycarp's) remains, which are more precious to us than the costliest diamonds, and which we esteem more highly than gold".

Wouldn't All The Relics Of the Cross Be Enough Wood For 2 or 3 Crosses?
     In 1870 a Frenchman, Rohault de Fleury, catalogued all the relics of the True Cross including relics that were said to have existed but were lost. He measured the existing relics and estimated the volume of the missing ones. Then he added up the figures and discovered that the fragments, if glued together, would not have made up more than one-third of a cross.

Were The Early Saints Aware Of The Importance of Relics?
     St. Ambrose relates how a blind man was restored to sight when the newly found bodies of Sts. Gervasius & Protasius were taken to the basilica, and adds: "You know, nay you have seen with your own eyes, how many were delivered from demons and a great number were cured of diseases when they touched the garments of the Saints; how there was a repetition of the miracles of the early days when, in consequence of the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, abundant grace was showered down upon the earth."
     St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: "This holy wood of the Cross is still to be seen among us; and through the agency of those who piously took home particles thereof, it has filled the whole earth."
     St. Chrysostom tells how men and women used to wear articles of the Cross in golden lockets on the necks.
     St. Augustine says, "we have not erected an altar to the martyr, Stephen, but with the relics of the martyr Stephen we have erected an altar to God."

OREMUS (Let Us Pray)

Those Saints of yours, Lord, who now rejoice with You in the Kingdom of Heaven, awaited the coming of your glory with faith and much patience while they lived on earth. What they believed, I too believe; what they hoped for, I hope for too; and through Your grace I trust to come to that place where they have already arrived. Till that happens, I will walk in faith, strengthened by the examples of the Saints.

The Imitation of Christ

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last edited March 21, 1998

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