What to make of relics?

Megan Sweas| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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Here's an article that interesting both for its subject, relics, and its location, slate.com.

The article itself is interesting, cleverly explaining both the history and the new rise in popularity of relics, which had all but vanished as part of people's faith lives since Vatican II. Here's the best line, in my opinion: 

"Though holy relics may still have their place in modern spirituality, they represent a time when saints were posthumous medieval rock stars, pilgrims their devout groupies and monks their roadies."

But after reading this, I'm still curious about what place relics have in modern spirituality. What does praying to a relic do for people? Are we just going back in time to saint rock stars and their devoted groupies, forgetting all reason and trusting that this is truly a piece of St. Francis? Is there a new modern twist on the veneration of relics?

I read recently about a first-class relic of the newly canonized St. Damien returning to Hawaii. This would seem to be more reliable since he died in the past 150 years. But what would it do for you to be in the room with St. Damien's finger?

I might think, "That's cool" but it wouldn't affect my faith. Perhaps relics, like it seems for the author of this piece, are simply curiosities, odd enough to make the very rare coverage of religion on Slate.

Photo from Wiki Commons