Friday, July 14, 2017

Known and Unknown

As the Bear has this week been engaged in a brief hiatus (it is, after all, summer), here for your edification are more relics, some of which are not too often seen.

Ex pallio S. Iosef

Above is a small piece from the cloak of Saint Joseph (the Betrothed) in a modern theca. This was given to me by a Catholic priest and it was sealed by the Augustinians. Only a few parts of Joseph's cloak, belt, and staff are known to still exist on earth and his body has never been found. In 1889, Pope Leo XIII instructed in Quamquam pluries that the popular novena to the Holy Cloak of Saint Joseph be added to the recitation of the Rosary in the month of October, in memory of the 30 years Joseph had spent living in the company of Jesus Christ. Three places were Saint Joseph's relics can be found are at the National Historical Museum in Sofia, Bulgaria; at Saint Anthony's Chapel in Pittsburgh, and in the Philippines.

Ex ossibus Ss. Martyrum Machabeor

From the same priest came the above theca with intact seal containing a small piece of bone belonging to one of the Old Testament Maccabean martyrs. I have no idea which Maccabeus this is, but their relics can be found at the Basilica di San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, Italy. The original provenance of this relic was the Vatican according to the numerical markings on the back of the theca.

Ex ossibus S. Dionysii

Above in modern theca with intact seal is a piece of bone of Saint Dionysus the Areopagite, a convert of Saint Paul. This relic came from Metropolitan Theodosius of the Orthodox Church in America. The relics of Saint Dionysus can be found at the various Athonite monasteries in Greece.

Ex ossibus Ss. Petrus, Iona, Alexis

Also from Metropolitan Theodosius came the above treasure with pieces of bone belonging to the three Metropolitan-Saints Peter, Jonah, and Alexis of Moscow, Kiev and all Rus. The relics of Saint Peter and Saint Jonah can be found at Uspensky Sobor (the oldest cathedral at the Kremlin) in Moscow, Russian Federation, whereas those of Saint Alexis can be found at Epiphany Cathedral in Yelokhovo, also in Moscow.

Ex ossibus S. Gregorii Naz.

From the first priest came also a piece of bone belonging to Saint Gregory of Nazianzus (one of the Three Holy Hierarchs). His relics can be found at the Vatican and at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George in Fener, Istanbul, Turkey.

© Marcelle Bartolo-Abela, aka the Bald Eagle.


  1. Thank you, Bald Eagle. Ha ha, yeah, a "brief hiatus" called writing his furry rear end off on Book II of the Rubricatae Chronicles. Oh, and laughing evilly, as readers of the first one will probably understand.

  2. These are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing them! Can I ask you a question? I'm a cynic, and what goes through my mind is, how does anyone know these are true relics? I wonder what the percentages are of them being what they say they are, the likelihood. I wish I didn't think like that, but I do. Do you have any idea? I don't know much about relics, as you can see. Thank you again.

    1. The answer to your question about authenticity is where they come from; their provenance. They all have an unbroken chain in terms of source/s and for most of them, I have the original documentation.

  3. Very beautiful, and thank you for sharing the images. Whenever thinking about relics and their 'authenticity' (a concept that interests me far less than it used to) what comes to mind is T S Eliot's line from "Little Gidding": 'You are here to kneel. Where prayer has been valid.'
    The traditions of devotion have their own authenticity: something that the Orthodox seem to understand more wholeheartedly than we do.

  4. You're welcome! Yes, the Orthodox have definitely remained more into relics and icons than Catholics have.


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