Important Information on the Veneration of Relics
Well-intentioned but uninformed Catholics should know that bidding and posting of relics on Internet auction sites are prohibited.
When the practice of venerating small pieces of bone fragments of the bodies of the saints became widespread as early as the fourth century, abuses often accompanied this devotion in the form of simony – the buying and selling of sacred things. Church authority did what it could to assist the faithful against deception and deter those who were profiting from the sale of fraudulent relics. In medieval times, those who created or wittingly sold, disseminated or displayed false relics for veneration were subject to immediate excommunication. Nevertheless, even relics of which the validity is certain, the revised 1983 Code of Canon Law declares in the strongest language possible,
“It is absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics.” – Canon #1190
This strong language only appears elsewhere in the Code to describe sins against the Blessed Sacrament, forced ordination and priests who break the seal of confession. While it is true that a relic may not be sold, the Church does allow a contribution to cover expenses for the relic case and postage. These contributions help support the ministry and canonization causes of holy persons who have been officially declared Blessed by the Church.
Catholics who have acquired a first class relic, such as through the estate of a deceased relative, and do not find it useful in their own spiritual life, would do well to consider a few options:
- Offer it freely to another family member, friend or person of faith who would benefit from its intended purpose to strengthen one’s faith and aid one’s spirit of prayer and devotion.
- Offer it to the local church or return it to the religious community to whom the particular saint belonged. As rightful proprietors of these sacred items, they find it distasteful and reprehensible to see a member of their own “religious family” for sale to the highest bidder on the Internet. In some instances, family members or descendants of the recently canonized are still living and would react negatively to such bidding.
- Specifically bequeath relics to loved ones so there is no uncertainty regarding their disposition after you are called from this life. The survivors are apt to cherish these keepsakes, not only because of their sacred nature, but also because of your care and concern in determining who will inherit them.
Handle relics sensibly and reverently, without abuse. Resist the temptation to rationalize the sale of these sacred items: “The bidders are Catholics and I want these relics to have a good home.” All justifications aside, involvement with the trade of first class relics to bidders on Internet auction sites gives the Church’s good intention for relics a bad name overall.
Why are complimentary first class reliquaries and replacements not readily offered?
We regret that we are not able to offer complimentary reliquaries and replacements. These sacred items are crafted in Rome by a group of nuns – the quality of their work, the costs associated with their labor and materials, and the shipping to get them from Rome to the Shrine in New Orleans are all factors primarily beyond our control. It may surprise many people to know that our asking donation is essentially a recoup of what we have already paid to Rome. We offer relics to the faithful for their intended devotional benefit, but to honor the numerous requests received on a monthly basis for a complimentary first class relic or replacement is not feasible.
First Class Relics
There are no first class Seelos relics available at this time.
Second Class Relics
In the New Testament we read about second class relics of the Apostle Paul and the wonders the Lord worked through them:
“… God worked extraordinary miracles at the hands of Paul. When handkerchiefs or cloths which had touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases were cured and evil spirits departed from them.” – Acts 19:11-12
Father Seelos died on October 4, 1867. On February 26, 1999, Redemptorist Postulator-General Father Antonio Marrazzo conducted an exhumation his earthly remains as a necessary part of the beatification process. Second class relics of the cloth that bound the bones of Blessed Francis Seelos during this examination are available in a special paper pouch/envelope for the purpose of carrying in a wallet, purse, glove compartment, etc. Second class relics are complimentary. We welcome a freewill offering of $2 each to help defray the cost of printing the envelopes and postage.
Third Class Relics
Third Class relics (also known as Seelos Mementos or Scapulars) of Blessed Francis Seelos, have been a labor of love by volunteer needle-workers for decades. Volunteers from across the United States have been faithful to this dying art since the 1960s, and have quietly contributed to the scapular supply-and-demand out of their love for God, Church, and Father Seelos. Third class relics are complimentary. We ask a $2 donation for each to help defray the cost of materials and postage.
Second and third class relics and relic items are available in our online shop, or you may mail your request to:
The Seelos Center
919 Josephine Street
New Orleans, LA 70130