♦What is a Relic?
A relic is something connected with a saint or blessed, including a part of their body (e.g. hair or a piece of bone), their clothing, or an object that the person used or touched.
Relics are classified as 1st Class – a part of the person’s body, for example: blood, hair, or bones; 2nd Class ‑ an article touched by the person or touched directly to part of his or her body; and 3rd Class ‑ something touched indirectly to the person, that is, to a 1st or 2nd Class relic, to the tomb, etc.
It is not the kind of relic or how big it is that is important, but rather the faith and prayer that the relic occasions. By the communion of saints, it is that person who is close to us, blessing and praying for us.
♦Why do we venerate Relics?
The veneration of relics is an ancient custom dating from the reverence shown at the graves of the martyrs even in the time of the apostles. Miracles have been worked by God in association with relics – “…not that some magical power existed in them, but just as God’s work was done through the lives of [holy people], so did His work continue after their deaths. Likewise, just as [others] were drawn closer to God through the lives of [holy people], so did they (even if through their remains) inspire others to draw closer even after their deaths. This perspective provides the Church’s understanding of relics.” (Fr. W. Saunders, “Keeping Relics in Perspective”, © 2003 Arlington Catholic Herald)
“In all, relics remind us of the holiness of a saint and his cooperation in God’s work; at the same time, relics inspire us to ask for the prayers of that saint and to beg the grace of God to live the same kind a faith-filled life.” (Saunders)
♦What do we express when we venerate Relics?
“To venerate the relics of the saints is a profession of belief in several doctrines of the Catholic faith: (1) the belief in everlasting life for those who have obediently witnessed to Christ and His Holy Gospel here on earth; (2) the truth of the resurrection of the body for all persons on the last day; (3) the doctrine of the splendor of the human body and the respect which all should show toward the bodies of both the living and the deceased; (4) the belief in the special intercessory power which the saints enjoy in heaven because of their intimate relationship with Christ the King; and (5) the truth of our closeness to the saints because of our connection in the communion of saints — we as members of the Church militant or pilgrim Church, they as members of the Church triumphant.” (Fr. W. Saunders, “Church Teaching on Relics”, © 2003 Arlington Catholic Herald)
♦Abuses of Relics
Venerating relics is included among other “expressions of piety [that] extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it.” (CCC #1675)
“In his Letter to Riparius, St. Jerome (d. 420) wrote in defence of relics: ‘We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are.’” (Saunders, “Keeping…”)
Abuses and misconceptions of relics in the history of the Church, such as selling relics (simony) or their forgeries and using relics as kinds of good-luck charms led the Church to establish guidelines defining the proper use of relics: “Pastoral discernment is needed to sustain and support popular piety and, if necessary, to purify and correct the religious sense which underlies these devotions so that the faithful may advance in knowledge of the mystery of Christ. Their exercise is subject to the care and judgment of the bishops and to the general norms of the Church.” (CCC #1676)
According to the tradition and norms of the Church, first class relics must be treated with proper reverence, sealed in a proper container and authenticated with a certificate from the Postulator. The second and third class relics of Blessed Teresa are also authenticated by the Postulator.
According to the laws of the Church, relics should never be sold. It is understood, however, that an offering can be made out of courtesy to cover production, shipping, and handling.
♦VENERATION AND RELICS OF SAINT TERESA OF CALCUTTA
The Church distinguishes between the cult (i.e. formal veneration) of a Blessed and that of a Saint. The act of beatification provides the faithful the opportunity to offer public veneration to a Blessed within set limits; a canonized Saint, however, can receive public veneration throughout the universal Church.
The liturgical feast of Saint Teresa of Calcutta is September 5, the anniversary of her death, and is celebrated with the rank of an optional memorial.
♦Where is Saint Teresa of Calcutta buried?
The mortal remains of Saint Teresa are in a marble-covered stone tomb on the ground floor of the Mother House of the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta.
♦Relics of Saint Teresa
If you would like to receive a relic card of Saint Teresa of Calcutta, you can contact the MTC by email at firstname.lastname@example.org (providing us with your physical mailing Address so that we can send you one)
or write to
Mother Teresa Center
Piazza S. Gregorio al Celio, 2
Mother Teresa Center
524 West Calle Primera,
San Ysidro CA 92173
Mother Teresa Center
c/o 54A, A. J. C. Bose Road
For Parishes that would like to receives a relic of Saint Teresa of Calcutta for the public veneration of the faithful to be exposed in their Parish Churches. A request letter on the Letterhead of the Parish and from the Parish Priest/ Pastor is necessary. That Letter needs to originally signed and by the Parish Priest and stamped with the Parish seal and sent to one of the above address.
There are numerous commercial sites on the web selling “relics” of Saint Teresa, some claiming these are “from the Vatican”. Without the authentication of the Postulator, no relic has the guarantee of authenticity and should be regarded as doubtful and with suspicion. Moreover, selling sacred relics is absolutely forbidden by the Church!