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
- 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, and praying for usbut rather the faith and prayer that the relic occasions. By the communion of saints, it is that person who is close to us, blessing .
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)
--From the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Center