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<<  The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on Relics of Saints.


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This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:


Popular piety


1674 Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions among the faithful. The religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church's sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc. (cf. Council of Nicaea II: DS 601; 603; Council of Trent: DS 1822)

1675 These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it. They "should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some way derived from it and lead the people to it, since in fact the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them." (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 13 § 3)

1676 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. (cf. John Paul II, Catechesi Tradendae 54) Their exercise is subject to the care and judgment of the bishops and to the general norms of the Church.

At its core the piety of the people is a storehouse of values that offers answers of Christian wisdom to the great questions of life. The Catholic wisdom of the people is capable of fashioning a vital synthesis. . . . It creatively combines the divine and the human, Christ and Mary, spirit and body, communion and institution, person and community, faith and homeland, intelligence and emotion. This wisdom is a Christian humanism that radically affirms the dignity of every person as a child of God, establishes a basic fraternity, teaches people to encounter nature and understand work, provides reasons for joy and humor even in the midst of a very hard life. For the people this wisdom is also a principle of discernment and an evangelical instinct through which they spontaneously sense when the Gospel is served in the Church and when it is emptied of its content and stifled by other interests.


(Consejo Episcopal Latinoamericano, Third General Conference (Puebla, 1979), Final Document § 448; cf. Pope Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi 48)

In Brief


1679 In addition to the liturgy, Christian life is nourished by various forms of popular piety, rooted in the different cultures. While carefully clarifying them in the light of faith, the Church fosters the forms of popular piety that express an evangelical instinct and a human wisdom and that enrich Christian life.




  1. Church of Antioch, (A.D. c.30-40)
    Church of Smyrna, (A.D. c.90-100)
    Martyrdom of St. Symphorosa, (martyred A.D. c.138)
    Sts. Epipodius and his companion Alexander, (martyred A.D. 178)
    Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253)
    Pontius of Carthage, or Pontius the Deacon, (lived during the 3rd century)
    Martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, (A.D. 203)
    Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338)
    The Apostolic Constitutions (or Constitutions of the Holy Apostles), (A.D. c.270)
    Martyrdom of Sts. Tarachus, Andronicus, and Probus (Provos), (A.D. c.304)
    Martyrdom of St. Vincent (of Saragossa), (A.D. 305)
    St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378)
    St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389)
    Ammianus (Marcellinus), (A.D. c.325-post 391)
    St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379)
    St. Victricius, (A.D. c.330-c.407)
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420)
    St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407)
    Prudentius, (Aurelius Prudentius Clemens), (A.D. 348-c.413)
    St. Asterius Of Amasea, (A.D. c.350-400)
    St. Paulinus of Nola, (A.D. 353-431)
    St. Paulinus the Deacon, (Paulinus of Milan), (unknown - A.D. c.425)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. John Cassian, (A.D. c.360 - 433)
    St. Nilus the Elder, (A.D. c.385 - c.430)
    Philo of Carpasium, (late 4th to early 5th century)
    Zacchaeus, (unknown - A.D. c.430)
    St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    Apollinaris Sidonius, (A.D. c.430 - 489)
    Sozomen, (Salminius Hermias Sozomenus), (A..D. c.400-c.450)
    St. Avitus, (Alcimus Ecdicius), (A.D. c.470-525)
Church of Antioch, (A.D. c.30-40), one of the five major churches that composed the Christian Church before the East-West Schism, traces its origins to the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul.

"Thus was he (Ignatius) delivered to the wild beasts near the temple, that so the desire of the holy martyr Ignatius might be accomplished, as it is written: "the desire of the righteous is acceptable" (Proverbs 10:24); that he might not be burdensome to any of the brethren by the gathering of his relics, according as in his epistle he had before wished, that so his end might be. For only the more solid parts of his holy relics were left, which were carried to Antioch, and wrapped in linen — a priceless treasure, bequeathed to the holy Church through the grace which was in the martyr."

Martyr.. S. Ignatii, n. vii. The edition used is that given by Gallandius, t.i.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 248-249

Church of Smyrna, (A.D. c.90-100), one of the seven churches of Asia that St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote to, also known as the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse.

"But when the emulous, and envious, and wicked adversary of the race of the just, saw the greatness of his martyrdom, and considered how irreprehensible his conversation had been from the beginning, and how he was now crowned with the crown of immortality, having without all controversy received his reward, he took all possible care that not the least relic of his body should be taken away by us, although many desired to do it, and to have a share in his holy flesh. And to that end he suggested to Nicetas, the father of Herod, and brother of Alee, to go to the governor, and hinder him from giving the body to be buried: "Lest," says he, "forsaking him that was crucified, they should begin to worship this Polycarp." And this he said, at the suggestion and instance of the Jews, who also watched us when we were about to take him away out of the fire: not considering that neither is it possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of all such as are saved throughout the whole world, the sinless for sinners, nor worship any other. For Him indeed, being the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples and imitators of the Lord, we worthily love them, on account of their exceeding great affection towards their master and their king: of which (martyrs) may we also be made companions and fellow-disciples. The centurion, therefore, seeing the contention excited by the Jews, put the body into the midst of the fire, and burned it. And thus we afterwards, taking up his bones more precious than the richest jewels, and tried above gold, deposited them where it was fitting. Where the Lord will grant unto us being gathered together, as we have opportunity, with exultation and gladness, to celebrate the anniversary day of his martyrdom; both in memory of those who have wrestled, and for the exercise and preparation of those who may have to wrestle."

Epist. Encyc. Ecd. Smyrn. de Martyr. 8. Polyccvrpi, n. 17-18.
The date usually assigned to this piece is the year 147. Gallandius edition is used.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 249-250

Martyrdom of St. Symphorosa, (martyred A.D. c.138), Italian; according to tradition, she was martyred with her seven sons at Tibur (Tivoli) towards the end of the reign of Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-138).

"After this the persecution ceased for a year and six months, during which time the holy bodies of all the martyrs were honored, and deposited, with all care, in tombs constructed for them."

Ruinart, Acta Sincera, p. 19.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 249

Sts. Epipodius and his companion Alexander, (martyred A.D. 178) are venerated as Christian saints. Close friends since childhood. Their feast day is 22 April. Epipodius was a native of Lyon; Alexander was said to be a native of Phrygia, and a physician by profession. They were both martyred during the reign of Marcus Aurelius

"Into that cavern their venerable bodies were, with religious forethought, cast, because the fury of the Gentiles, denying the last rites of burial, raged even against the bodies of the dead. Afterwards, however, the reverence of religious men preserved that place, and a reverence transmitted through their posterity discovered it, and many miracles, which manifested the power of the saints. For when, in the time that followed, the people of Lyons were falling rapidly under a disease that raged, a certain youth of noble birth, who was vehemently burnt up with the violence of the fever, was admonished in a vision to seek for a remedy from the woman who preserved the sandal of the martyr. But she replied that she knew nothing of medicine, but did not deny that, by the mercy of God, she had cured very many by means of the relic of the martyr. And Lucia immediately presented to him the blessing, and the chalice of beneficent salvation. When he had received the cup, the cure of thirst, he at once, the fire of the fever extinguished, recovered in such wise, that he was said to have been restored to life and health, not by human help, but by the wonderful aid of God: which power of faith and of the saints is spread throughout the whole city, and a countless multitude, while they received health of body, received also an increase of faith; and there was a present and everlasting medicine, both of souls and bodies. But also afterwards in those places these wonderful works are shown, the casting out of demons, the cure of infirmities, the restoration of health; which things are well nigh of every-day occurrence, and works greater than these, that a firm belief, even though it be not willingly granted, is exacted by the existing miracles. Wherefore, it is fitting that faith be given to these things said arid done, for that the friendly power of God, His force and dignity, as it loves the faithful and believing, so does it abandon the doubting. Therefore let us not doubt that these things are done which we have both learned by hearing, and do now see to be manifest."

The Acts of the Martyrdom of SS. Epipodius and Alexander, given by Ruinart, Pp. 66-7.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 250-251

Origen of Alexandria, (A.D. 184-253), Alexandrian; born in Egypt, philosopher, theologian, writer.

"And no wonder if a saint sanctify, by the word of God and prayer, the food of which we partake, when even the very garments with which he is clothed are holy. The handkerchiefs and aprons of Paul derived so much holiness from his purity, that, when applied to the bodies of the sick, they drove away diseases, and restored health: and of Peter what shall I say, the very shadow of whose body bore with it so much holiness, that whomsoever, not he, but his shadow only touched, was at once relieved from every ailment." [Acts 5:15]

T. iv. L. ix. Comm. in Ep. ad Rom. 666.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 251-252

Pontius of Carthage, or Pontius the Deacon, (lived during the 3rd century) was a Christian saint and Latin author from Carthage. He served as a deacon under Cyprian of Carthage and wrote the Vita Cypriani ("Life of Cyprian") shortly after Cyprian's death around A.D. 258.

"When he (St. Cyprian) had reached the Praetorium, the proconsul not having as yet arrived, a more retired spot was allowed (Cyprian). Whilst he was, after his long journey, sitting down bathed in perspiration (the seat was accidentally covered with linen, that so even under the stroke of martyrdom he might enjoy the honor of the episcopate), a certain person once a Christian, offered his own things, as though he would fain change his dry clothing for the wet clothes (of Cyprian); he in fact desiring nothing else by the things offered, but that he might obtain possession of the sweat already tinged with blood of the martyr who was on his road to God."

Vitaet Pass. S. Cypr. Rulnart, p. 214.
Ruinart's edition is used.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 25

Martyrdom of Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, (A.D. 203), Perpetua's account of events leading to both their martyrdoms, apparently historical, were written in the first person and are the grounds for considering it the earliest surviving text written by a Christian woman. They were martyred under the Emperor Septimius Severus.

The date assigned to this piece is A.D. 203.

"When the martyr Saturus was dying, he said to Pudens, Farewell, and be mindful of my faithfulness, and let not what thou seest terrify, but strengthen thee. And, at the same time, he asked him for the ring on his finger, and having plunged it in his wound returned it to him, leaving him that pledge as an inheritance, and a memorial of (his) blood."

Ruinart, Passio SS. MM. Perpet. et Felic. n. 21, p. 96.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 251

Eusebius of Cæsarea, (A.D. c.263-338), appointed Bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 314, Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist, scholar of the Biblical canon who was deeply embroiled in the Arian controversy.

"For the brethren there (at Jerusalem), venerating, according to a derived custom, the throne, which has been preserved to this day, of James, the first who received from Christ and the Apostles the episcopate of the church of Jerusalem, point out clearly to all, what veneration, both they of old and the men of our days, preserved, and still preserve towards holy men, on account of their love of God."

Also, in the history, Vita Constant. I. ii. c. xl. he says:

"Who can doubt that the places which have been honored by the bodies of the martyrs and have preserved the memory of their glorious death, belong to the Church?"

H. E. L. vii. c. xix.
See also Ibid. c. xxxii., where the preservation of this apostolic throne is again noticed.
See also Ib. viii. 6.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 252

The Apostolic Constitutions (or Constitutions of the Holy Apostles), dated A.D.c 270, is a Christian collection of eight treatises which belongs to genre of the Church Orders.

"God therefore is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for all live unto Him, (Luke 22:38). Wherefore even the very relics of those who live with God are not without honor. For even Eliseus the prophet, after he was fallen asleep, raised up a dead man who was slain by the pirates of Syria; for his body touched the bones of Eliseus, and he arose and lived again. Now this would not have happened, unless the body of Eliseus were holy."

L. vi. n. 30.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 254-255

Martyrdom of Sts. Tarachus, Andronicus, and Probus (Provos), martyrs of the Diocletian persecution (A.D. c.304), they were then condemned to death by wild beasts, but when the animals would not touch them in the amphitheatre they were put to death with the sword.

Having described their martyrdom, the writer says:

Maximus, on leaving the amphitheater, leaves ten soldiers, and commands the bodies of the holy martyrs, after being cast together with the unclean and profane bodies (of the gladiators), to be guarded. It was accordingly done as was ordered, and the bodies mixed together were guarded by the soldiers; but we...kneeling down, prayed to the most high God, that by His good mercy we might be enabled to liberate the relics of His holy martyrs. And after we had prayed,...we see the guards at supper, and a fire burning near the bodies. And we again approached a little nearer behind them, and having fallen on our knees, we with one voice besought God, and His Christ in the Holy Spirit, to signify to those who prayed unto Him, that He gave aid from on high in liberating the holy bodies from the unclean and defiled. Immediately a no slight earthquake took place, and thunder and lightning shook the air, and an exceeding darkness supervened, and the rain fell fearfully. After a while, when the storm had ceased, having again prayed, we went to the bodies, and find the fires put out by the rain, and the guards gone: and seeing this, we were filled with great confidence. But not being able to find the bodies of the saints, stretching our hands towards Heaven, we begged of God to discover to us the relics of His holy martyrs. And suddenly the all-merciful God, in His ineffable condescension, sent a bright star from Heaven, and this having rested upon each of the bodies, made known to us the bodies of His servants, and taking in our hands their relics, we went our way to the neighboring mountain."

This piece is pronounced by Ruinart and others to be one of the most precious monuments of antiquity.

Passio S. Tarachi et Soc. Ruinart, pp. 490-491.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 255-256

Martyrdom of St. Vincent (of Saragossa), (A.D. 305), also known as Vincent Martyr, deacon of Saragossa in the former Kingdom of Aragon, Spain, who was tortured and drowned in A.D. 305 under the Emperor Diocletian.

The date of this martyrdom is fixed by Ruinart in A.D. 304. He considers
the acts cited as being the same as those often commended by St. Augustine. Having described the death of St. Vincent, the writer says:

"Then might you have Been the multitude that had stood round, emulously kiss the feet of the saint, touch with pious curiosity the wounds with which the whole body was lacerated, receive in linen cloths the blood as, with sacred veneration, to be a future benefit to their posterity."

Pass. 8. Vincent. Ruinart. p. 395.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 255

St. Ephrem the Syrian, (of Edessa), (A.D. 306-378), Syrian; born in Nisebis, deacon, hymnist, poet. His works were even during his own lifetime almost all translated into Greek, and were, as St. Jerome informs us, held in such high estimation, as to be read in some churches after the Holy Scriptures. We have his life by St. Gregory of Nyssa.

"And now contemplate the life hidden in the martyr's relics. For who will deny that they have yet life, who sees that their very monuments have life? The thing is most clearly ascertained; it is one of which no one will doubt. The martyr's tombs are impregnable citadels, and a safe refuge against those who attack the public liberty; cities most strongly fortified; defenses prepared for the fugitive, and an assured protection. Whom envy has inflamed, or the artful cunning of deceits has seduced, let him give heed that he may experience the present aid. . . . Physicians are they, the restorers of health, they bear the medicine of life, a medicine useful both to body and soul, for it is compounded by the Spirit, wherewith bodies and souls are healed. They require faith in order to bestow upon thee whatsoever you ask; unless thy hesitating mind hang in doubt, let thee be slain and thou shalt revive. God dwells in their relics; thence have they ability to work every kind of miracle. O God that dwellest in the just, to Thee be glory, and may Thy mercy be upon us."

T. ii. Gr. In Vit. B. Abra. p. 19.
See also t. ii. Gr. Testamentum S. Ephr. p. 233, F.

"On this account though dead, their (martyrs') works are as though they were living; healing the sick, expelling devils, and causing all the malice of their tyranny to flee, by the power of Christ. For the grace of the Holy Ghost, that performs all miracles, is ever present with their holy relics."

T. ii. Gr. Encom. in Glorias. MM.p. 308.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 256-257

St. Hilary of Poitiers, (A.D. 315-367), French; husband, theologian, bishop of Poiters around A.D. 355, and Doctor of the Church. Referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" and the "Athanasius of the West.". He was obviously a firm supporter of St. Athanasius.

"We owe more to your cruelty, Nero, Decius, and Maximinian (than to Constantias). For through you we conquered Satan. Everywhere was the holy blood of the martyrs received, and their venerable bones are a daily testimony, while evil spirits howl at them, while maladies are expelled, while wonderful works are seen."

[He then proceeds to details of miracles.]

In his Treatise on the Trinity he adduces the miracles performed at the tombs of the Apostles and martyrs, as one proof of Christ's divinity. In the acts of St. Felix, bishop and martyr, as published by Baluzins and given by Du Pin, at the end of his edition of St. Optatus of Milevi we read: "His body was placed in Nola, and relics of it were, by religious servants of God, and children of the mother Church, brought to Carthage. In that same venerable spot many wonderful things take place, and all kinds of infirmities are cured in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Contr. Const. Imp. n. 8.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 256

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

"Of the cross, He was crucified for our sins truly. And if thou shouldst be disposed to deny this, the very place yet visible confutes thee, even this blessed Golgotha, in which we are now, on account of Him who was crucified on it, assembled together; and further, the whole world is filled with portions of the wood of the cross. Many, my beloved, are the testimonies concerning Christ. [He then names several, and amongst the rest:] The holy wood of the cross gives testimony, which (wood) is seen amongst us to this day, and by means of those who have in faith taken there of, has, from this place, now almost filled the whole earth. . Golgotha, this holy place, which is raised above all others, is the witness in the sight of all."

Catech. x. n, 19, p. 146.
See also Catech. xii. n 4, p. 184.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 253-254

"I have passed over Elias, and the widow's son whom he raised; and Eliseus, who twice raised the dead, once when living, and again after his death. For when alive, he wrought the resurrection by means of his soul; but in order that not only the souls of the just might be honored, but that it might be believed that in the bodies also of the just there abides power, the corpse which was thrown into the grave of Eliseus, having touched the dead body of the prophet, revived; and the dead body of the prophet did the work of the soul, and that which was dead and buried gave life to the dead; and while bestowing life, it still continued among the dead. Wherefore? In order lest, had Eliseus risen again, the work might be ascribed to the soul alone, and that it might be shown, that even when the soul is not present, there resides a certain power in the body of the just, on account of the just soul which has for so many years dwelt in it, and used it as its minister. And let us not foolishly disbelieve, as though this had not happened; for if handkerchiefs and aprons, which are external, when they touched the bodies of the sick, raised up the infirm, how much more should the body itself of the prophet raise the dead?"

Catech. xviii. n. 16, p. 293.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 254

St. Gregory of Nazianzen, (A.D. 318-389), Cappadocian; archbishop, theologian, Doctor of the Church.

Theirs (of martyrs) are mighty honors and public festivals; by them devils are cast out, and maladies cured; of whom are apparitions and predictions; whose bodies, even alone, whether touched or honored, can effect as much as their holy souls; even whose drops of blood alone, and the minute symbols of their passion, can do as much as their (entire) bodies. These (relics) thou venerateet not, but dishonorest, thou who art filled with wonder at Hercules' funeral pile."

Adv. Julian, t. i. Orat. iii. pp.767-7.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 261

"Though Cyprian's name was high in esteem with all men, yet was his body in obscurity, and the treasure was in the possession of a certain woman of fervent piety, and this for a length of time. I know not whether this was from God's honoring this God-fearing woman, and who on this account left in her possession the martyr; or whether He made trial of our desire, whether we should be borne down with the loss when deprived of the holy relics. But when the God of martyrs no longer endured to make that which was a common good, peculiar to one individual, nor to cause a common in jury, through love towards her, He made the body publicly known by means of a revelation. And this honor He assigned to a deserving woman; that woman might be blessed in that as they, in times past, gave birth to Christ, and announced Him to the disciples, after His resurrection from the dead, so now too one should indicate, another deliver up, Cyprian, that common helper."

T. i. Orat. xviii. De S. Cypr. p. 284.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 261-262

"What I have omitted it is for you to supply (that you, too, may present something to the martyr Cyprian), as, the driving away of evil spirits, the removal of diseases, the foreknowledge of future events all which even the very dust of Cyprian can effect where there is faith, as they know who have made trial, and have transmitted the miracle even to us, and will deliver it to future ages.

T. i. Orat. xviii. De S. Cypr p. 285.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 262

"Such is the veneration of truth, that a little dust, or some small relic of old bones, or a small portion of hair, or shreds of rag, or a stain of blood, are enough to have the same honor as the whole body. And it is a fact, that a (martyr's) name given to places is a holy relic, standing even in lieu of the whole martyr. Oh the miracle! for I am of opinion, that but to think (of a martyr) saves. But what if I should speak of diseases and demons expelled in a manner surpassing belief, so as to amount to miracles? the places that were found worthy of their honored bodies being antagonistic to the incursions of demons. These are the wonders of my heroes."

T. ii. Carm. lamb, xviii. p. 216.
See also, T. iv. Carm. xv.p. 358.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 262-263

Ammianus (Marcellinus), (A.D. c.325-post 391) was a fourth-century Roman historian. He wrote the penultimate major historical account surviving from Antiquity, His work chronicled in Latin the history of Rome from A.D. 96 to 378, although only the sections covering the period: A.D. 353-378, are extant.

Having narrated how and where the head of John the Baptist was discovered by "two Eastern monks who had come to adore the resurrection of our Lord," he adds that a potter from Emessa was warned by the saint to carry it away to his native city, and having carried it thither, he venerated the head of the precursor of Christ, and when dying delivered it to his sister, who was unacquainted with the circumstances, sealed up in a small vase. . .At length a certain Eustathius, a concealed priest of the Arian perfidy, obtained possession of so mighty a treasure, of which he was not worthy, and the favor which Christ our Lord imparted, through John the Baptist, to the people laboring under infirmity, this priest declared to be his own doing only."

Chronicon. n. 453, p. 348, t.x. Galland.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 302

St. Basil the Great, (A.D. 328-379), Cappadocian; bishop of Cæsarea in A.D. 369, theologian, monk. Studied in Palestine, Constantinople, and Athens. Many of the subsequent years of his life were spent in the deserts of Egypt and Libya. His character and works have gained for him the surname of "the great".

"We were greatly pleased that, undertaking a care beseeming a Christian, you have raised a house unto the glory of the name of Christ. . . . Should we be able to examine (any) martyr's relics, we hope on our parts to assist your zeal."

T. iii. P. 1, Ep. xlix. Arcadio, p. 203.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 263

"It will be a good action on your part to send martyr's relics to this country, since, according to your account, the persecution in your parts even now makes martyrs unto the Lord."

T. iii. P. ii. Ep. clv. p. 354.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 263

"Yet were our minds brought back to the former blessedness (of the Church), when your letters reached us from a far-off land, blossoming with the beauty of love, and a martyr (St. Sabas) arrived amongst us from the barbarians beyond the Istrus, of himself proclaiming the integrity of faith abiding there. Who shall tell the gladness of our souls on account of these things?"

lib. Ep. clxiv. Ascholio, Ep. Thess. p. 368
See also p. 370, Ep. clxv. Eidem.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 263

"Your honorable affection towards, and eagerness for the most blessed bishop, Dionysius, bear witness for you of perfect love towards the Lord; that you honor your predecessors and are zealous for the faith. For this disposition of mind towards our fellow-servants is referred to the Lord whom they served; and he who honors those who have wrestled for the faith, shows that he has a like zeal for the faith; so that one and the same action affords proof of varied virtue. We have to inform your friendliness in Christ, that the excellent brethren, selected by your piety unto the ministry of this good work, . . . with all earnestness have persuaded the faithful guardians of the blessed body, to yield unto Him the safeguard of their life. And know, that neither rulers nor human power would ever have had ability to force these men, had not the firm resolution of these thy brethren moved them to yield. And what especially aided to effect the wished-for result, was the presence of my fellow-presbyter Pharasius, who having undertaken, of his own accord, the labors of the journey, quieted the over-wrought excitement of the faithful there; and having won over the opposing party by his word, and taken away, with befitting reverence, the relics, in the presence of the presbyters and deacons, and of many others who fear the Lord, he preserved them for your brethren; which relics receive with as much gladness, as their late keepers have forwarded them with sorrow. Let no one hesitate; let no one doubt. It is that very same unconquered champion. The Lord recognizes those bones that shared with His blessed soul in the conflict. One case received His honored body; none lay near Him; the tomb was distinguished; He had a martyr's honor. . . . Christians have wept, as if deprived of a father and defender; but they have forwarded (the relics), setting your joy above their sorrow. The deliverers, therefore, are pious men; the receivers careful; there is not on any side falsehood, in none deceit; this is our testimony; let the truth (or genuineness) be held amongst you as beyond all calumny."

T. iii. P. ii. Ep. cxcvii. ad Ambros..Ep. Mediol. pages 418-419.
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St. Victricius (A.D. c.330-c.407), French; bishop of Rouen (A.D. 393-407), missionary, and author, son of a Roman legionnaire, and was in the army himself. However, when he became a Christian, he refused to remain in the army.

"Give us the temples (bodies) of the saints; we wish for deeds, not for words. For if the hem of the Saviour s garment, when but slightly touched, effected a cure, beyond all doubt will these dwelling-places of their passions work cures. . . . This is the disposition (of a Christian), to consider himself enriched with a mighty sum of money, whensoever his hands bear the weight of the relics of saints. . . . Come, dearly beloved, let us pour forth to the sacred relics the words of the Psalmist, which are tempered with milk and honey. With watchings and fastings let an unsober sobriety petition to be cleansed from sins. Let us incline towards us the favor of the saints, whilst fresh is their coming amongst us. Their home is indeed above; but as guests, let us pray to them. . . . They are venerable (or, to be venerated); they are saints, who on death, have inflicted death, as we read, "He that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live. Oh! how precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints. . . . Prostrate on the earth, and bedewing the ground with tears, let us cry aloud with one voice, that so ye, who now have forever yours the sacred relics, may be pure of body. Not to you, oh venerable (martyrs), will our oblation seem mean. The place is not unworthy of being dwelt in by so many conquerors. Here will you find John the Baptist . . . here Andrew, Thomas, Gervase, Agricola, Euphemia. . . . The precept is yours, that Charity is not envious; seeketh not its own: hence I do not doubt that, as men, the meanness of the place affects you as an insult. It is too confined; these things are cared for by men. The Divinity heeds not space; it is not circumscribed by time or place. . . . Greater, however, will be the glory of your powers, if you defend the suffering, if you protect those who lie prostrate beneath their foes. Let weapons guard those that choose them; us shall your ranks, your standards keep. No enemy have we, if you grant us the forgiveness of sins; the threads of our life are held in your hands. Forgive our sins, and no hostilities will disturb us. But why do I, the poor Victricius, your worshipper, fear for the nature of this place? . . . After martyrdom the blood glows with the reward of divinity. This fancy, dearly beloved, is now to be purged away, and utterly eradicated from our minds, viz., let not anyone be, by any chance, deceived by that vulgar error, so as to think that in the minute particles of the just there is not the real body that suffered. But we, with full assurance and authority, cry aloud that in relics there is nothing that is not complete. . . Wherefore, most certain is it, that our Apostles and martyrs have come unto us with their full powers. That this is so, we are admonished by the favors now present before us. For as we acknowledge that the right of translating them is derived from their desire, we thereby see that they do not, by thus voluntarily spreading themselves, inflict a loss on themselves, but that, through the riches of their indivisibility, they scatter wide their benefits. The flame diffuses and gives its brightness, and yet suffers not from its bounty. So are the saints munificent without loss; entire, without receiving any accession; so have they, without any of the weariness of journeying, come unto us. There is, therefore, in relics, a proof of their perfection, but no loss resulting from subdivision. . . .Add to this, that the power of healing is not less in the particles than in the whole body. Do they afford remedies to the wretched, in a different manner in the east, and at Constantinople, or Antioch, Thessalonica, Neissa, Rome, in Italy? Are the bodies of the afflicted cleansed of their ailments after a different manner? The evangelist John works cures, not only at Ephesus, but in many other places besides. ... At Bologna, Proculus and Agricola heal; and in this place also do we see the majesty of these two. Antoninus heals at Placentia . . . Mutius, Alexander, etc., infuse with liberal power the grace of salvation (or, health) . . . Tell me, is the healing influence of the above-named saints one with us, and another with others? Now if, everywhere, any particles whatever of the saints defend, purify, protect with like bounty their worshippers, reverence is to be paid them, not their majesty inquired into. Even if there were not in relics the full weight of power, yet it would not be the part of a good mind to derogate in anything from such dignity. For it is to fear, not to be knowing, that profits. The Apostles and saints not only do not seek for something to be added to them, but they even bestow the blessings of health and salvation (or, safety).

Gallandius, t. viii. pp. 229-31-2-3; Liber de Laude Sanctorum.
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St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394), bishop of Nyssa in A.D. 371, an erudite theologian who made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed. Gregory's philosophical writings were influenced by Origen. He was the brother of the great St. Basil.

"Their bodies (of the forty martyrs) were given to the flames; but their dust, and what the flames spared, the world has shared; and well-nigh the whole earth is blessed with these hallowed remains. I too have a portion of this gift, and I have deposited the bodies of my parents near the relics of these soldiers, in order that, at the resurrection, they may rise again together with these confident helpers. For I know how powerful they are, and of their power (or, liberty of speech) with God, I have seen manifest proofs: and I wish to narrate one instance out of what has been done by them as a wonderful proof of their influence. There is a village belonging to me in which repose relics of the forty martyrs. ... A soldier (stationed there) had a complaint in one of his feet, which caused him to walk lame: his complaint was of long standing and incurable. While within the martyrium, and the resting place of the saints, having prayed to God he implored the intercession of the saints. There appeared to him in the night a venerable man, who said to him amongst other things, "Soldier, you are lame. Do you wish to be cured ? Then let me touch your foot." The spectre taking hold of it, pulled it violently ; and whilst the nocturnal visitor did this, there was a noise, such as there would be were a bone dislocated from its natural place and then violently replaced, which awoke those who slept with him, and aroused the soldier instantly, who walked perfectly and naturally as he had once been wont. This miracle I was myself a witness to, having been with the soldier who proclaimed and made known to all men the bounty of the martyrs, and celebrating the benevolence of those his fellow soldiers. [After narrating another miracle of which he was himself the object, he concludes :] "These things have I mentioned that we may be firmly persuaded, that the martyrs live, and adorn our Church, that they who this day have benefited and adorned our Church, are attendants on, and assessors of God."

T. ii. Orat. in xl. Mart. pp. 211-13.
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"Let us view the present state of the saints, how very excellent it is, and how magnificent. For the soul, indeed, having attained unto its proper inheritance, rests gladly: and, freed from the body, dwells together with its compeers; whilst the body, its venerable and spotless instrument, — which, injured not by its peculiar passions the incorruptibility of the indwelling spirit, deposited with great honor and attention, lies venerably in a sacred place, reserved as some much-honored valuable possession unto the time of the regeneration, and far removed from any comparison with other bodies which have died by a usual and common death: and this though they are naturally of the same substance. For other relics are to most men even an abomination. . . . Whereas whoso cometh unto some spot like this, where we are this day assembled, where is a memorial of the just, and a holy relic, his soul is in the first place gladdened by the magnificence of what he beholds, seeing a house as God's temple, elaborated gloriously both in the magnitude of the structure, and the beauty of the surrounding ornaments. There the artificer has fashioned wood into the shape of animals; and the stone-cutter has polished the slabs to the smoothness of silver; and the painter too has introduced the flowers of his art, depicting and imaging the constancy of martyrs, their resistance, their torments, the savage forms of the tyrants, their outrages, the blazing furnace, and the most blessed end of the champion; the representation of Christ in human form presiding over the contest: all these things, as it were in a book gifted with speech, shaping for us by means of colors, has he cunningly discoursed to us of the martyrs struggles; has made this temple glorious as some brilliant fertile mead. For the silent tracery (picture) on the wall has the art to discourse, and to aid most powerfully. And he who has arranged the mosaics (small stones), has made this pavement, on which we tread, equal to a history. And, having gratified his sight with these sensible works of art, he then desires to approach the very shrine itself, believing that the touching it, is a hallowing and a benediction. And should some one allow him to carry away the dust which lies on the surface of that resting-place, the dust is received as a gift, and the earth is treasured up as a valuable possession. For to touch the relic itself, if ever by so great a good fortune one obtain leave, how very much this is to be desired, and what a concession to the most earnest supplication, they who have had experience, and have accomplished this desire know. For the beholders with joy embrace it as if a living and unfading body; applying it to eyes, and mouth, and ears, and to all the senses; and shedding then a tear of veneration and of sympathy for the martyr, as though he were entire and visible before them, they supplicate him to intercede, beseeching him as God's attendant, calling on him as receiving gifts whensoever he pleases."

Side note: St. Basil, in his homily, "In Barlaam Martyrem", alludes to a similar custom: Rise up now, I pray you, ye celebrated painters of the good deeds of these wrestlers (the martyrs). Make glorious, by your art, the mutilated image of this leader. With the colors laid on by your cunning make illustrious the crowned martyr, by me too feebly pictured. I retire vanquished by you in your painting of the excellences of the martyr: I rejoice at being this day overcome by such a victory of your bravery. I shall behold the struggle between the fire and the martyr s hand depicted more accurately by you. I shall see the wrestler described more glorious by your representation. Let demons weep at being now also smitten in you by the brave deeds of the martyr. Again let the burning and victorious hand be shown them. Let Christ also, who presides over the struggles, be depicted on your canvas.

T. iii. De S. Theodora, M.pp. 579-580.
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St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

"Persons invited to a great feast are wont to bring away small presents, portions of the feast. I, having been invited to the feast held at Bologna, where the translation of a holy martyr has been celebrated, have reserved, from that feast, presents full of holiness and grace.

[He then describes the martyrdom of Saints Vitalis and Agricola, and says:]

There we sought for their remains, as it were gathering roses from the midst of thorns. The Jews crowded round us when the sacred relics were borne away, and the faithful of the Church were there applauding and rejoicing. . . . For you I have brought away gifts which I gathered with my own hands; trophies of the cross, that is; the grace (or excellency) of which you are acquainted with by its effects. Yea, this the very demons confess. Let others hoard up silver and gold, and tear it from the hidden veins. We gather the nails, and those not a few, that have pierced the martyrs; we gather up their victorious blood, and the wood of the cross. These (relics) we have not been able to refuse to the request of a pious widow. Receive ye, therefore, these gifts of salvation, which now are deposited under the sacred altars. That widow's name is the saintly Juliana, who has raised and offered to the Lord the temple which we this day dedicate.

[He represents her as thus addressing her child :]

Thou art more the child of my vows than of my pains. Reflect to what office thy father, by calling thee Lawrence, designed thee. Whence we took thy name, there we laid up our vows. (*) Our vows had their effect : restore to the martyr what thou owest to the martyr. He obtained thee for us: do thou repay what we promised for thee, when we gave thee such a name."

(*) Speaking of the body of his brother Satyrus, he says: "I will believe that I shall be more commendable to God, because I shall repose on the bones of thy holy body."

T. ii. Exhort. Virgin, n. i. 7-10, 15.
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"Helen came; she began to visit the holy places: the Spirit inspired her with a wish to seek for the wood of the cross. She came to Golgotha, and exclaimed, "Here is the place of the battle: where is the victory? I seek for the standard of salvation, and find it not. Am I, she cried, dwelling in palaces, and the cross of the Lord hidden in the dust? Am I in gilded (palaces), and Christ's triumph in ruins? Does that yet lie hidden, and is the trophy of eternal life still concealed? How account myself redeemed, if the redemption itself is not gazed upon? I see what thou hast done, oh evil spirit, that the sword wherewith thou wast slain may be covered with ruins. . . Let the ruins be removed, that the life may appear: let the sword be brought forth, wherewith the head of the true Goliah was severed; let the earth be opened, that salvation may shine forth. What hast thou gained, oh evil spirit, by hiding the wood, but again to be vanquished? Mary vanquished thee when she conceived the Conqueror. And today also shalt thou be vanquished, by a woman's discovery of thy wiles. She, as being holy, bore the Lord: I will seek out His cross. She taught us that He was begotten: I (will teach) that He has risen again. She caused God to be seen amongst men: I, as a remedy for our sins, will uplift the divine standard from these ruins.

[He then describes the finding of the cross, and says that Helen recognized it by the inscription on it, Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.]

She found the inscription: she adored the King; not the wood that is for this is the error of the Gentiles, and the folly of the impious but she adored Him who hung upon the wood, whose name was written on the inscription. . . She eagerly hurried to touch the remedy of immortality, but feared to profane with her foot the sacrament of salvation. With a heart full of joy, and with a tottering step, what to do she knew not. Yet went she forward to the resting-place of truth; the wood shone forth, and grace became resplendent. . . . She sought for the nails with which the Lord was crucified, and found them. With one she adorned a bridle-rein; the other she had entwined into a diadem: one she turned into an ornament, the other into (a purpose of) devotion. Mary was visited that she might liberate Eve; Helen was visited that emperors might be redeemed. . . . Wisely did she act, she who placed the cross on the head of kings, that the cross of Christ may be adored in kings. This is no homage to pride, but is piety, when paid to the sacred redemption. By the iron (that pierced) His feet, kings are bowed down. Kings adore, and the followers of Photinus deny His divinity!"

T. ii. De Obit. Theodos. n. 44-49, col. 1210-1212.
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"As it is my custom not to omit to give your sanctity an account of whatsoever takes place here during your absence, I have to inform you that holy martyrs have been found amongst us. For whilst I was dedicating the Basilica, many began, as with one voice, to call unto me, saying: "Let this be dedicated as was the Roman Basilica." I will do so if I shall find martyr's relics. And instantly there came upon me an ardor which presaged something. What need of many words? The Lord granted the favor; and though even the clerics were alarmed, 1 ordered the ground to be dug up before the gates of Saints Felix and Nabor. I met with suitable indications. . . . We found two men of wonderful stature . . . (Saints Gervase and Protase). All the bones entire, and much blood. The crowd was great throughout the whole of the two days. In a word, we translated them when the evening was near at hand, to the Basilica of Fausta ... on the following day we translated them to the Basilica which they call the Ambrosian. Whilst we were translating them, a blind man was restored to sight. This was the nature of my address to the people. . . . Look on my right hand and on my left and behold the sacred and holy relics; behold men of heavenly conversation; gaze on the trophies of sublime resolution. . . . You know, in fact you have yourselves seen, many freed from evil spirits; many also delivered from the infirmities under which they labored, upon touching with their hands the covering of the martyrs: the miracles of former days were renewed amongst us....How many pieces of linen, how many portions of dress were cast upon the holy relics, and recovered, with the power of healing, from that touch. It is a source of joy unto all to touch but the extremest portion of the linen that covers them; and who so touches is healed. We give Thee thanks, O Lord Jesus, for that Thou hast stirred up the energies of the holy martyrs at this juncture, wherein Thy Church has need of greater defenses. Let all learn what champions I seek for, who are able to fight for us, but are not wont to attack. I have obtained for thee, O holy people, those who may benefit all, and injure none. Such are the defenders that I seek for; such the soldiers that I have; soldiers, that is, not of this world, but soldiers of Christ. Of such I fear no envy, whose protection is the safer the more powerful it is. Yea to those even who do envy me them, do I wish their protection to be extended. Let them come, then, and see my body-guard; with arms like these I will not deny that I am surrounded. "Some (trust) in chariots, and some, in horses, but we in the name of the Lord our God shall be exalted (Psalms 19:8). The connected history of divine Scripture records that Eliseus, when besieged by the army of the Syrians, said to his fearful servant, "Fear not, for there are more with us than against us;" and that to prove this, he prayed that the eyes of Giezi might be opened; who, when his eyes were opened, saw that a countless army of angels was with them. We, though we cannot see them, yet do we feel them. These eyes were closed, as long as the bodies of the saints lay buried in concealment. The Lord has opened our eyes; we have seen the aids where with we have often times been defended. We saw them not, but we had them nevertheless. Wherefore has the Lord, as it were, said to us in our alarm, "See what martyrs I have given you;" so, with opened eyes, we contemplate the Lord's glory, the past in the martyrs passion, the present in their deeds. We have put off, brethren, a no small load of shame: we had patrons, and we knew them not.. . . The noble relics are dug out of an ignoble sepulcher; the trophies are shown to Heaven. The tomb is moist with blood: the spots of victorious blood appear; the relics are found in their place and order in violate; the head severed from the shoulders. . . . The city which had eagerly obtained others martyrs, had lost its own. Though this be the gift of God, yet can I not but acknowledge the favor which the Lord Jesus has bestowed on the days of my priesthood; and as I cannot deserve to be myself a martyr, I have procured these martyrs for you. Let the triumphant victims enter upon the place, where Christ is the victim. But He upon the altar, — He who suffered for all men; these under the altar, these who by that suffering were redeemed. I had destined that spot for myself; for it is befitting that where he has been accustomed to offer, there the priest repose; but I yield up the right side to these sacred victims; this spot was the martyrs due. Let us, therefore, put in their resting-place the holy relics, and bear them to a spot worthy of them; and with true devotion celebrate this whole day. The people cried out, "Let the deposition of the martyrs be deferred unto the Lord s day;" but at length it was granted that it should take place on the following day. My discourse to the people on the following day was to this effect."

[In it he defends, against the Arian objectors, the miracles alluded to in the previous discourse.]

T. ii. Epist. xxii. Class i. Sororisuae, col. 874-878.
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St. Jerome, (A.D. 342-420), Dalmatian; born in Strido; priest, hermit, abbot, biblical scholar, translator and Doctor of the Church. In an age distinguished by men of the greatest eloquence and learning, St. Jerome, especially in all matters connected with the Sacred Scriptures, was then preeminent, and has probably never since been equalled.

"You question me on a matter which but to utter and to hear is sacrilege. You say that Vigilantius again opens his fetid mouth, and casts his most vile filth against the relics of the holy martyrs, and that he calls us, who admit relics, cinder-worshippers, and idolaters who venerate dead men's bones. The miserable man, whose state is to be bewailed with torrents of tears! He sees not that, in saying this, he is a Samaritan and a Jew, who reckon the bodies of the dead unclean, and look upon vessels which have even been kept in the same house as defiled, following the letter that killeth, and not the spirit that quickeneth. But we worship not, we adore not, I do not say relics only, but not even the sun and moon, not angels, not archangels, not the cherubim, not the seraphim .... lest we serve the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for evermore. But we honor the relics of martyrs, that we may adore Him whose martyrs they are. We honor the servants, that the honor given to the servants may redound to the Lord, who says, "He that receives you, receives me." Were the relics, then, of Peter and of Paul unclean? Was the body of Moses unclean, though it was, according to the truth of the Hebrew, buried by the Lord Himself? And as often as we enter into the basilicas of the Apostles and prophets, and of all the martyrs, do we so often venerate the temples of idols? And the wax lights that are burned before their tombs, are they the insignia of idolatry? I will say something more than the above and let it either cure or destroy his mad head for fear lest the minds of the simple may be subverted by such awful sacrileges. Was, then, the body of the Lord, when deposited in the sepulcher, unclean? ... If the relics of martyrs are not to be honored, how read we, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints?" If their bones defile those who touch them, how is it that Eliseus, though dead, raised to life the dead, and that the body which lay there, according to Vigilantius an unclean thing, bestowed life? Oh tongue, that deserves to be cut out by the surgeon's hand; yea, rather let such cure his mad brain, that so the man that knows not how to speak, may at last learn to be silent?

T i. Ep. cix. ad Riparium, n. 1-2, col. 719-721.
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"There have been monsters on earth, centaurs, syrens, etc. Gaul alone has bred no monsters, but has ever abounded in brave and noble men. When, of a sudden, there has started up one Vigilantius, or rather one Dormitantius, who, with an unclean spirit, lights against the spirit of Christ, and denies that the martyrs tombs are to be venerated; asserts that vigils are to be condemned; that continency is a heresy; that chastity is a nursery of lust. Amongst his other blasphemies he writes as follows: "What need is there of thy not merely honoring so much, but even adoring that I know not what which thou carriest about in a small vessel to worship?" And again, in the same book, "Why dost thou kiss in adoration the dust that is covered with a piece of linen?" And later, "We see an almost pagan rite brought into the churches, under the pretext of religion, — that, while the sun still shines, masses of wax-lights are burnt. And they, in every place, kiss in adoration I know not what dust, which is kept in a small vessel covered with valuable linen. Mighty honor do these men show the blessed martyrs, who, they think, must needs have a light furnished them from vile pieces of wax, the martyrs whom the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, enlightens with all the brightness of His majesty." Who, thou madman, ever has adored the martyrs? Who has thought man a God? . . . And thou hast the audacity to say, "That I know not what which thou carriest about in a small vessel to worship." What is that I know not what? I want to know. Speak out more plainly, that thou mayest blaspheme without any restraint: "I know not what dust which is kept in a small vessel covered with valuable linen. It grieves him that the relics of the martyrs are covered with a valuable veil, and not tied up either in rags or hair-cloth, or cast into the privy; that so Vigilantius alone, drunk arid asleep, may be adored. So then we are sacrilegious beings when we go into the basilicas of the martyrs? Was the emperor Constantius a sacrilegious being when he translated to Constantinople the holy relics of Andrew, Luke, and Timothy? before whose relics demons howl, and the indwellers of Vigilantius confess that they feel their presence. And now too is Augustus Arcadius to be called a sacrilegious being, who has, after the lapse of so long a time, translated the bones of blessed Samuel from Judea into Thrace? Are all the bishops, who carried a thing so very vile, and pulverized ashes, in silk and a vase of gold, to be reckoned not sacrilegious merely, but mere fools besides? Fools too are the people of all the churches, who went out to meet the holy relics, and received them with as much joy, as if they gazed on the prophet living and present amongst them; that from Palestine to Chalcedon the crowds were as one mighty hive, and lifted on high, with one voice, the praises of Christ. Forsooth, they were adoring Samuel, and not Christ, whose Levite and prophet Samuel was! Thou lookest upon him as dead, and therefore blasphemest. Read the gospel: "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, He is not the God of the dead, but of the living." Then, if they live, they are not shut up in a decent prison near thee. For, thou sayest, "That the souls of the Apostles and martyrs have their resting-place either in Abraham's bosom or in a place of refreshment, or under the altar of God, and cannot leave their tombs and be present where they choose." They are of senatorial rank to wit, and not shut up amongst murderers in a dismal prison, but are under generous and honorable custody in the happy islands, and in the Elysian fields! Wilt thou set laws to God? Wilt thou chain down the Apostles, so as to keep them from their Lord. Of them it is written, "They follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth." If the Lamb be everywhere, then must they also, who are with the Lamb, be believed to be everywhere. And while the devil and evil spirits wander over the whole earth, and by their surpassing swiftness are everywhere present, shall the martyrs, after shedding their blood, be hidden under the altar, and be unable to go thence?"

T. ii. Adv. Vigilant, n. 1, 4-6, col. 387-91.

He resumes the argument as follows:

"It is ill done then of the bishop of Rome, that, over the venerable bones as we think them, over vile dust as you think it, of the departed Peter and Paul, he offers sacrifice to the Lord, and accounts their tombs Christ's altars: and not the bishop of one city only, but the bishops of the whole world are in error, who, in spite of the innkeeper Vigilantius, go into the basilicas of dead men, where lie folded in linen this vile dust and I know not what ashes. . . . And later, vomiting forth from the depths of his breast his foul rheum, he has the effrontery to say, "So then the souls of the martyrs are in love with their own ashes, and flutter round them, and are ever beside them, for fear lest per chance some suppliant may come, and, in their absence, they may not be able to hear him." O monster, deserving of being transported to the extremity of the earth! You laugh at the relics of martyrs, and with Eunomius, the author of this heresy, you forge calumnies against the churches of Christ. . . . He (Vigilantius) argues against the signs and miracles which are done in the basilicas of the martyrs, and says that they are of use to unbelievers, to persons that believe not, as if the question were for whom they are done, and not by what virtue they are done. . . . Tell me not that they are miracles for the sake of unbelievers; but answer me, how is it that, in "vile dust", and "I know not what ashes", there is so mighty a present power to perform signs and miracles? I see, I clearly see, most miserable of men, what grieves thee, what fills thee with fear. The unclean spirit that forces thee to write these things has often been tormented by this vile dust, yea, is even now tormented, and he that dissembles his punishment, now that he is in thee, confesses it when he is in others. Unless, haply, like the gentiles and the impious wretches Porphyrius and Eunomius, you set these things down as cheats of the evil spirits, and think that the demons do not veritably cry out, but feign to be tormented. I give you this advice, go into the basilicas of the martyrs, and you will at length be dispossessed; you will there find many of your companions, and you will be on fire, not from the wax-tapers burnt before the martyrs, which move your spleen, but from unseen flames."

lb. l.c. n. 9-10, col. 395-397.
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St. John Chrysostom, (A.D. 344 - 407), Syrian; archbishop, Doctor of the Church. Born at Antioch in 344; he was ordained priest in A.D. 383, and raised to the see of Constantinople in the year A.D. 398. His eloquence gained him the title of Chrysostom, or the mouth of gold. His expositions of Scripture, especially the Epistles of St. Paul, are very valuable. This illustrious prelate died on his road to exile, in A.D. 407.

"Kings, laying down their diadems, take up the cross, that symbol of His death; on the purple robe is the cross; on diadems the cross; in prayer the cross; on armor the cross; on the sacred table the cross; and everywhere throughout the world the cross outshines the sun; And His sepulcher shall be glorious (Isaiah 11:10). . . . The place that received that slaughtered body, small and confined as it is, is more venerable than ten thousand royal chambers, and more precious than kings themselves. And His sepulcher shall be glorious. And what is more strange still, this has not befallen Him only, but the very same has happened to His disciples. For the men that were dragged and led about, the men that were despised and bound in fetters, the men that suffered countless hardships, are, since their death, more honored than kings. And how, learn hence. In that most regal city, Rome, both kings, and consuls, and generals, leaving everything else, hasten to the tombs of the fisherman and of the tent-maker ; and in Constantinople, not near the Apostles, but at the porch outside the temple, they that had worn the diadem deemed it a thing to be desired to have their bodies buried; and thenceforward kings became door-keepers to the fisherman. . . . And yet that same accursed and abominable thing, that symbol of the vilest punishment, has now become a thing desired and loved. For not so much does the kingly crown beautify the head, as that cross that is more precious than all the world. And what all abhorred of old, of it the image is now sought after so eagerly by all, as to be found everywhere with rulers and subjects, with men and women, with virgins and married, with slaves and freemen. Yea, for we all continually engrave it upon the most notable part of our bodies, and bear it about day by day figured on the forehead, as on a pillar. This is at the sacred table; this in the ordinations of priests; this again shines forth with the body of Christ at the mystic supper. This one may see moving everywhere in gladness, in houses, in marketplaces, in deserts, in highways, on mountains, in valleys, on hills, on the sea, on ships, and on islands, on couches, on robes, on armor, on hangings before chambers, at banquets, on vases of silver and of gold, on pearls, on the painted walls, on the bodies of animals variously afflicted, on bodies possessed with demons, in war, in peace, by day, by night, in the dances of the glad, in the societies of the self-mortifying: so eagerly sought after has become this wonderful gift, and its ineffable grace. No one is ashamed, no one blushes as he reflects that this is the symbol of the vilest death; but we all are made more beautiful by it, than by crowns and diadems, and ten thousand strings of pearls. Thus not only is it not shunned, but it is even desired and beloved, and eagerly sought after by all men, and everywhere it gleams and is spread, on the wall of houses, on the roof, on books, in cities, in villages, in places unpeopled and peopled. I would fain, then, ask a Gentile whence has this symbol of such a punishment, of the vilest death, become desired by all, eagerly sought after, if the power of the crucified be not great indeed ? . . . How then does that very wood, whereon His holy body was stretched and crucified, comes it to be so eagerly sought after by all men? And many, both men and women, taking a small particle of it, and enclosing it in gold, hang it round their necks as an ornament, although that wood was the symbol of condemnation and of punishment."

T. i. Contra Gent, et Jud. Quod Christus sit Deus, n. 8, 9-10, pages 695-698.
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"Besides these matters already named, there are some who are troubled about this other and no less question, asking of themselves, why did God permit a man (Timothy), who had so great power, whose bones and relics expelled demons, to fall into so great an infirmity. . . . And not this question only, but another also do these doubters ask, why he neither cured himself, nor his instructor healed him, when reduced to this state? . . . although with respect to other bodies, both during life and after death, they manifested so great power."

T. ii. Hom. i. ad Pop. Antioch. n. 2, pages 3-4.
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"We have gone forth from the city, and have hastened to the feet of these saints, on occasion of the present festival, and excusing ourselves unto them for the past. For if, even when they lay under this pavement, we ought to have run to these generous champions of the true religion, much more ought we to do so now that these pearls are set by themselves; now that the sheep are freed from the wolves; now that the living are separated from the dead. . . . The relics of those whose souls are in the hands of God did not indeed suffer any thing from their place of sepulture, . . . but our people had to endure no slight evil from the locality, hastening indeed to the martyr's relics, but saying their prayers with doubt, and wavering from not being thoroughly acquainted with the burial places of these saints, and where the true treasures lay."

T. ii. in Ascens. Dom. n. 1, p. 529.
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"Do not fix thy contemplation on this, that the martyr's body lies there deprived of the energizing power of the soul, but reflect on this; that there reposes in that body a power greater than that of the soul itself; the grace, to wit, of the Holy Spirit, which, by the miracles that it performs, gives proof to all of the resurrection. For if God has vouchsafed to dead bodies, and those reduced to dust, a power greater than that of all living men, much more will He bestow on them a life better than their former and more blessed, at the season of crowns."

T. ii. De S. Babyl. p. 635. Nearly the whole of this homily and of the following treatise,
De S. Babyl., is an argument in favor of relics.
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"Worthy are they (Juventinus and Maximinus, MM.), to be called pillars, and rocks, and towers, and lights, and oxen. For as pillars they support the Church; and as towers they fence her; and as rocks they repel every insidious attack, producing for those within (the Church) a great calm; and as lights they have dispelled the darkness of false religion; and as oxen they have with equal ardor, both in soul and body, drawn the sweet yoke of Christ. Therefore let us without ceasing visit them, and touch their shrine, and embrace with faith their relics, in order that we may thence obtain a blessing. For as soldiers, when they exhibit their wounds which they have received in battle, speak boldly to their king, so these martyrs also bring in their hands their severed heads, and producing them in the midst, are with reason able to obtain everything that they wish from the King of Heaven. With great faith, therefore, with great eagerness, let us come hither; in order that both by the contemplation of these holy memorials, and from the consideration of their struggles, and from every side we may derive abundant and great treasures."

T. ii. in Juvent. et Maxim. MM. in fine, p. 696.
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At the close of his account of the triumphant translation of the relics of St. Ignatius, he says: "It is, it is indeed true that who so cometh here (to his relics) reaps great blessings; for not the bodies only, but even the sepulchers of the saints, are replete with spiritual grace. For if this happened to Eliseus, that a dead man, by coming into contact with his sepulcher, burst asunder the bonds of death, and came to life again; much more now, that grace is more abounding, that the operation of the spirit is more effective, will he that shall with faith touch the sepulcher derive thence great virtue. And therefore has God left us the relics of the saints, from a desire by them to lead us to the same zeal, and to furnish us with a safe harbor and consolation in the ills that ever are overtaking us. I, therefore, exhort all of you, if any be ill at ease in mind, or body, or under losses, or in any other of life's vicissitudes, or in the depth of sins, let him come hither with faith, and he shall unburden himself of all these evils, and return with great gladness, by the contemplation alone making his conscience more tranquil. . . . Thus, to all is this treasure useful, and an opportune resting-place; to the fallen, that they may be freed from their temptations; to the prosperous, that they may continue uninterrupted; to the sick, that they may receive health; to the healthy, that they may not fall into sickness. Considering all these things, above all pleasure, above every joy, let us value the abiding here, that at once reaping pleasure and profit, we may there also be enabled to become companions with the saints, by the prayers of those saints, and by the grace and goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ."

T. ii. Hom, in S. Ign. M. n. 5, pp. 716-717.
See also, in the same volume, Hom, in S. Eustathium, n. 3, p. 722. Hom. i. in Maccabaeos, n. 1, p. 743. Sermo de SS. Martyribus, n. 2, pp. 779-80. Horn, in MM. n. 1, p. 799.
Hom. in St.Julianum, M. n. 1,page 805. Hom. de S. Droside, M. n. 2, p. 825.
See also, T. iii. Defuturae vitae deliciis, n. 2, p. 403.
Ibid. Epist. cxxvi. Rufino Presbyt.p. 810, D.
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"For the bodies of these saints fence round the city more securely than any wall of adamant, however impregnable; and, like lofty walls cast up on every side, they not merely repel the assaults of those enemies that are felt and seen, but also they both subvert and dissolve as readily the snares of the invisible demons and all the devices of the devil. Indeed, the other muniments prepared by men, such as walls, and moats, and weapons, and troops of soldiers, and whatever is devised for the security of the indwellers, may be repelled by an enemy that has other machines more powerful and numerous than their own; but when a city is fenced round by the bodies of saints, even though the enemy should expend countless sums of money, they shall be unable to oppose to the cities that possess them any such machine of war. Not against man's devices only, nor against the evil workings of demons, is this possession of avail unto us, my beloved; but even though our common Lord be wroth against us, on account of the multitude of our transgressions, we shall be able, by interposing these bodies, speedily to make Him merciful to a city. For if our forefathers, that have done many excellent good works, found some comfort from interposing the names of holy men, and by having recourse to the mention of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and reaped great aid from commemorating those names, much more we, when we interpose, not only the names, but even those very bodies that have wrestled, shall be able to have God merciful and propitious and kind. And that what we say is not mere idle words, there are many, both citizens and strangers, that have come hither, who know how great is the power of these saints; who also testify to my words, having learned, by experience itself, their power with God; and justly; for they contended in no ordinary way for God."

T. ii. Hom. in MM. Ægypt. n. x. pages 834-835.
See also T. ix. Hom. xxx. in Ep. ad Rom. n. iv. page 818.
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For if when here, he (Paul) so loved men, that when he had the choice to be dissolved, and be with Christ, he chose to be here (Rome); much more there will he show a more ardent affection. I love Rome even for this; though I am able to praise her also on other grounds; both for her vastness and antiquity, and beauty and populousness, her power, her wealth, and her brave deeds in war. But passing all the rest by, for this cause do I call her blessed, that even when living he wrote to them, and so loved them, and conversed with them in person, and there closed his life. And therefore is that city more venerable, than from all the other causes. And as a body great and strong, she has two shining eyes — the bodies of these saints. Not so bright is the Heaven, when the sun sends forth his rays, as is the city of the Romans, which diffuses these two lights over every part of the habitable globe. Thence shall Paul be caught up; thence Peter. Think and tremble, what a sight Rome shall see Paul raised of a sudden from that deposit with Peter, and borne up to meet the Lord. What a rose does Rome send up to Christ! What two crowns has that city about her! What golden chains shall gird her round! What fountains has she! For these things do I admire that city; not for the much gold, not for the columns, not for the other vanity, but for these pillars of the Church. Would that one would grant unto me now to embrace the body of Paul, and to cleave to that sepulcher, and to behold the dust of that body which filled up the things that were wanting of Christ; which bore the stigmata; which every where served the Gospel.

[Having enlarged on the dust of Paul's heart and hands and feet, etc.., he says:]

And what need of speaking of each limb? Fain would I see that sepulcher, where the arms of justice are laid up, the weapons of light, the limbs which now live though dead while he lived in all which Christ lived; which were crucified to the world. . . . This very body is a wall to that city; a greater security than any tower, and than thousands of fortifications, and with it is that of Peter; for him in life he honored, for he went up to see Peter."

T. ix. Hom, xxxii. in Rom. n. 3-5, pp. 834-5-7.
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In the twelfth volume of St. John Chrysostom there are two homilies preached on occasion of the translation, by torch light, of relics from Constantinople to the church of St. Thomas, nine miles distant. The first contains numerous passages on the subject of holy relics, as also a panegyric of the Empress Eudoxia, for the zeal displayed by her in following the relics on foot, "as a servant" (p. 469); whilst the second, delivered on the following day, narrates the manner in which the emperor, with his chief officers, honored the relics on that day.

In the first homily, St. Chrysostom burst into that exclamation which was one of the charges against him in the Synod ad Quercum. Amongst other passages is the following :

"So great is the power of even the dust of the saints, it abides not only within the relics, but also goes out of them, and drives away unclean powers, and sanctifies with great power those that approach with faith."

Hom. ii. n. p. 469.
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Prudentius, (Aurelius Prudentius Clemens), (A.D. 348-c.413), Roman Christian poet, born in the Roman province of Tarraconensis, now Northern Spain. He probably died in Spain, as well. The hymn Salvete, flores Martyrum, is by this writer.

The following are short specimens of the way in which he speaks constantly and copiously of relics:

"Thus (by my song) may I venerate her bones."

Galland, t. viii. Hymn. iii. in S. Eulali. 212, page 433.
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"Many dipped linen cloths in the welling blood, to be kept at home as a sacred protection to their children."

Ibid. Hymn. v. Passio S. Vincentii, 341-5 , p. 448
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"Then the ashes of their sacred bodies and their bones, though sprinkled with wine, were gathered up and appropriated eagerly by each one. So great was the zeal of the brethren to carry to their homes the consecrated gifts of the ashes of the saints, or to bear about them in their breasts the faithful pledges."

Ibid. Hymn. vi. In Hon. MM. Fructuosi, Auqerii, 130-5, p. 451.
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"Thus may we venerate her (St. Eulalia's) bones, and the altar that is placed over them; she looks down upon them, placed as they are under the feet of God."

Carm. in S. Eulal. Ruinart. Act. Martyr, p. 500.
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St. Asterius Of Amasea, (A.D. c.350-400), born in Cappadocia, bishop of Amasea (A.D. 380-390), after having been a lawyer. Not to be confused with the Arian polemicist, Asterius the Sophist.

"Good and profitable for those who pursue what is laudable is the memory of the saints . . . for verbal teaching is inferior to, and weaker than, practical action. ... In this manner do we learn the sciences, thus do we learn the arts . . . and so too do we, the disciples of the martyrs, making the actions of these resolute men, ours, in lieu of a confession (of faith), learn to preserve the true religion (piety), even in the extremest dangers, by merely looking upon their sacred depositories, as pillars inscribed with letters, and manifesting accurately the agony of their martyrdom. [Having described the martyrdom of St. Phoeas, he continues :] From that day to this we have this martyr (as) a pillar and ground of the divine churches of the world, and he is the most illustrious of the martyrs, holding the first place amongst the most excellent. He draws all men in crowds to his dwelling-place, and the highways are filled with persons from every land hastening unto that place of prayer.

That temple is indeed magnificent, which also has had the fortune to have the martyr's sacred body, of the afflicted the consolation, of the diseased the hospital, of the hungry the table. For more plentifully does Phocas, now that he is dead, furnish food than did Joseph of old in Egypt; for this latter for silver distributed corn, but the former is bountiful to the needy gratuitously, . . and if, by means of some slight relics of his, the martyr settle himself in some other spot, as a colony from a parent city, that spot also is the object of wonder, and eagerly sought after by all Christians, even as this spot amongst us is the assembly of the rejoicing. For, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints;" and his relics shared amongst places, preserve the fame of this thrice-blessed martyr entire in every place. So also even in the dominant city, the capital of Italy, and the queen of the world, there is a crowded attendance on, and honor is paid to the martyr, and a structure built (to him) distinguished for its beauty. And the Romans venerate Phocas, no less than Peter and Paul. For which cause too, they, as report says, eagerly obtained possession of the head of the martyr, with sentiments quite opposite to those of Herod ... in order to honor it, and for their own benefit have they worthily guarded the head of the martyr.

[He then proceeds to narrate how he is the patron of seamen, the miracles performed by him in their favor, and their singular mode of honoring him; tells of the votive offerings placed by emperors and foreign monarchs in his temples, and proceeds, as follows:]

But how, furthermore, can any one narrate the benefits which are continually accruing through visions in dreams, and through the cares of which the sick are made partakers. . . . We, therefore, pausing here, will give glory to the Saviour, whose faithful servants have, agreeably to the gift that has been granted them, had vouchsafed to them so great grace, as to benefit their fellow-servants, in every necessity and circumstance, and this since their departure from this world, and the separation from their bodies."

In Phocam. Mart. T. i. Combefis, pp. 170, 178-180.
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"Were there no martyrs, gloomy and gladless would our life be. For what is worthy to be compared with these solemn assemblies! What so venerable, and every way beautiful, as to behold a whole city pouring forth all its citizens, and repairing to a sacred place to celebrate the pure mysteries of most true religion? But true religion is it both to worship and to honor those who have resolutely endured torments for Him. . . . For this cause, having decently wrapped their pious bodies, those vessels of benediction, those instruments of their blessed souls we keep them in every age as most precious goods, we guard them as our own possessions, and by the martyrs is the Church fenced round as a city with brave soldiers; and solemn assemblies of the people are gathered together, and we enjoy the delight of their festivals; whilst they, who are overtaken by the adverse chances and misfortunes of life, hasten to the resting-places of these thrice-blessed (martyrs), as unto a useful refuge; we make them intercessors of prayers and petitions, on account of their surpassing power; thence the poor are solaced, diseases cured; and the threats of rulers are quieted; and the sacred temples of the martyrs are tranquil harbors amidst all the tumults and storms of life. Thus does a father, or a mother, taking her sick child, and folding it in her arms, hurry by hospitals and physicians, but fly unto help that knows nothing of their art, and having come to any of the martyrs, through him she offers up a prayer to the Lord, using such words as these to her mediator: Thou hast suffered for Christ, intercede for one that suffers and is ill. Having liberty of speech, use thy speech for thy fellow-servants. What though thou hast left this life of ours, yet dost thou still know the sufferings of humanity. Thou also didst once call upon the martyrs, before becoming a martyr. Then seeking, thou didst find; now, possessing, bestow. For thy reward, ask for this benefit for us. Let us be healed by thy stripes, as the world (was healed) by those of Christ. Another hurrying to marriage, makes a prayer in the martyr's churches a prelude to the nuptial chamber. And this other one hastening to sail, looses not the sails of the vessel, before he has, through the martyrs, invoked the Lord of the sea. The crowds of beggars, and the swarms of poor, regard the resting-place of the martyrs as their common asylum; and in every part of land and ocean are the praises of the martyrs sung, and this justly and with good cause."

SS. Martyr, pp. 186-87. Combefis, t.i.
See also Hom. adv. Avarit. p. 41. Ibid.
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St. Paulinus of Nola, (A.D. 353-431), Roman; convert and bishop Of Nola, Born at Bordeaux he was ordained priest in 393, and was appointed bishop of Nola in 409; may have been indirectly responsible for Augustine's Confessions. One who knew St. Paulinus well says he was "meek as Moses, as priestly as Aaron, innocent as Samuel, tender as David, wise as Solomon, apostolic as Peter, loving as John, cautious as Thomas, brilliant as Stephen, fervent as Apollos."

"Our brother Victor has informed me that you, as becomes your faith and grace, are in want, for the church which you have built, of the blessing of the holy relics of saints. The Lord is my witness, that if I had but a scruple of holy dust more than I absolutely need for the dedication of our basilica, which will soon be completed, I would have sent it to your friendliness; but as we could not supply you with any such gift, and Victor has told me that he has hopes of being furnished abundantly with this same blessing (gratia) by the saintly Silvia, who has promised him particles of the relics of many Eastern martyrs, I have found something worthy of being sent to you, both towards hallowing your basilica, and adding to the blessing of those holy ashes, namely, a part of a small particle of the wood of the divine cross; a blessed thing which holy Melania brought me from Jerusalem as a present from the holy bishop John. . . .Accept, therefore, a great gift in a small compass; and in a particle, almost like an atom, of a small splinter, receive a safeguard of present, and a pledge of eternal salvation. Let not your faith be straitened because the eyes of the body look on so small a thing, but with the eye of the mind let faith behold, in this smallest of particles, the whole power of the cross. While you think within yourselves that you look upon that wood whereon our salvation hung, whereon the Lord of majesty was fastened while the world trembled, rejoice with trembling (Psalms 2). . . . We have enclosed the substance fraught with so great blessing in a small gold tube.

[He then gives, in detail, the usual account of the finding of the cross by St. Helen, and of the raising of a dead man to life, when, after touching two of the crosses, the body was applied to the cross of Christ, and prefaces it with the remark, that]

The Jews who even sealed up the sepulcher, would not, (had it fallen into their hands), have neglected to destroy the cross; neither would they have endured that this passion should be venerated in the surviving cross; they who cannot bear that His resurrection should be worshipped, proved as it is by the emptied tomb and their broken seals." ...
"The bishop of Jerusalem, when the passover of the Lord is celebrated, brings that cross forth every year, to be adored by the people, and himself, the chief of its venerators. On no other day but this, whereon the mystery of the cross itself is celebrated, is that cross, which is the cause of the sacraments, brought forth, as a kind of special privilege of that sacred solemnity: except on occasions, when men of great piety, who have traveled thither for this purpose only, beg that the sight of it may be granted them as a reward of their long pilgrimage; and this favor, I am told, can only be granted by the bishop, by whose kindness also alone can a present of even a minute particle of the sacred wood be obtained, to the great increase of faith and blessing. Which cross containing in an insensate material a living power, from that period so accommodates its substance to the almost countless demands of men, as not to feel its losses, and remains almost intact, though men are daily taking from its mass, and yet are ever venerating the whole. But it derives this virtue of incorruption, and this indestructible solidity, from the blood of that flesh which after suffering death did not see corruption. But we hope that to you also it will be not merely the memorial of a blessing, but the source (nursery) of incorruption."

Ep. xi. ad Severum, pp. 189-90, T. vi. Bib. Max. PP.
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In his next letter, amongst a great variety of verses composed for inscriptions to be placed in his own basilica, and that of his friend Sulpicius Severus, there are two copies of verses for the altar, one in case the particle of the cross should be placed there with other relics, and another, "In case he should prefer to keep by him that blessed particle of the cross as a daily protection and remedy, lest, if once deposited in the altar, it may not be ready to his hand, as his wants may require its use."

Ep. xii. ad Sev. 1. c. p. 192. See also p. 192, E.
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The following will show how he himself employed that relic, when a fire was raging in the neighborhood of his basilica:

"I ran, trusting to nothing but faith and suppliant prayer, to the neighboring church of my Felix, and thence, with like prayer, to a neighboring church, and I begged for a remedy (to the evil) from the virtue of the relics (dust) of the Apostles, flinging myself down beneath the altar that covered them. Having returned home, I took out a small particle that had been given me of the wood of the everlasting cross small indeed in size, but mighty to save, and holding it in my hand, I thrust it forward near the opposing flames, holding it as a shield before my breast to protect me. . . . Believe me : not to me, but to Christ give thanks, and deserved praises to the Omnipotent. For our salvation (or safety) is in Christ's cross and name: thence our confidence; and that confidence resting on the cross was of avail in this danger, and that name recognized our salvation. Not my voice, not my arm, but the power of the cross, terrified that fire, and forced the flame to sink down and die, with an expiring moan, on that very spot whence it had sprung. How great the virtue of the cross, that nature should forget itself; the fire that devours all kind of wood is consumed by the wood of the cross."

Carm. Nat. x. p. 291 ; Ibid. t. vi. Bib. Max. SS. PP.
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St. Paulinus the Deacon, (also known as Paulinus of Milan), (unknown-c.425), was the notary of Ambrose of Milan, and his biographer. In Carthage in 411 he had opposed Caelestius, a Pelagian. The formal proceedings were described by Augustine in On Original Sin. Paulinus set up six theses defining Pelagian views as heresy. His work is the only life of Ambrose based on a contemporary account, "Life of St. Ambrose" and was written at the request of Augustine of Hippo; it is dated to 422.

St. Paulinus the Deacon says of St. Ambrose, that:

"at the first dawn of the Lord's day, when his body, at the close of the celebration of the divine mysteries, was borne from the Church to be carried to the Ambrosian Basilica, where it was deposited, the crowd of demons cried out so that they were tormented by him, that their cries were past endurance. The grace thus bestowed on the priest continues to this day, not only in that spot, but also in several of the provinces : crowds also of men and women threw linen cloths, or their garments, so as to touch, however slightly, the saint s body."

Vita S. Ambros. a Paulin. n. 48, col. xiii. T. ii. Op. Ambros. Append.
See also Vita S. Ambros. a Paulin. n. 52, col. xiv., the account of the blind man restored to sight by touching the relics of Saints Sisinnius and Alexander, or rather the bier which supported them.
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St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

Having given earlier in this section the account of the discovery of the bodies of St. Protasius and St. Gervasius, by St. Ambrose of Milan, I will add St. Augustine's testimony on the same subject, himself an eyewitness:

"Then didst thou in a vision discover to thy forenamed bishop, where the bodies of Protasius and Gervasius, the martyrs, lay hid (whom thou hadst in thy secret treasury stored uncorrupted so many years), whence thou mightest seasonably produce them to repress the fury of a woman, but an empress. For when they were discovered and dug up, and with becoming honor translated to the Ambrosian basilica, not only they who were vexed with unclean spirits, the devils confessing themselves, were cured, but also a certain man, who had for many years been blind, a citizen, and very well known to the city, on asking and hearing the reason of the people's confused joy, sprang forth, desiring his guide to lead him thither. Led thither, he begged to be allowed to touch with his handkerchief the bier of Thy saints, whose death is precious in Thy sight. (Psalms 115) Which when he had done, and put to his eyes, they were forthwith opened. Thence wide-spreading fame; thence fervent, glowing praises of Thee; thence the mind of that enemy though not enlarged so as to have the healing of belief, was nevertheless repressed from the fury of persecution."

T. i. L. ix. Confess, c. vii. n. 16, col. 278.
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"We celebrate on this day the erecting of a place to the memory of St. Protasius and St. Gervasius, the martyrs of Milan: not the day whereon it was erected here, but we on this day celebrate the day on which the death of His saints was, through Ambrose the bishop, that man of God, precious in the sight of God; of the which great glory of the martyrs I also was a witness. I was there; I was at Milan; I knew the miracles done; God testifying to the precious deaths of the saints; that through those miracles that death might now be not only precious in the sight of God, but also in the sight of men. A blind man very well known to the whole city received his sight; he ran; he caused himself to be led; he came back without a guide. We have not as yet heard that he is dead; perhaps he is still living. He dedicated himself to serve during his whole life, in that basilica of theirs, where are their bodies. . . . Not to all does God bestow health through the martyrs, but to all that imitate the martyrs does He promise their immortality."

T. v. Serm. cclxxxvi. n. 4-5, in Natal. MM. Protas. et Gervas. col. 1689.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 287

"Why, they say, "are those miracles which you proclaim as having been done, not done now?" I might indeed say, that they were necessary before that the world believed, for this, that the world might believe. Whoever still seeks after miracles that he may believe, is himself a great prodigy, who, when the world believes, does not believe. But this do they say for this end, that those miracles may not be believed to have been even then wrought.

[Having replied with singular power to this objection, and stated that miracles even then continued to be performed, he gives, amongst other examples, the miracle recorded above.]

The miracle which was wrought at Milan, whilst we were there, when the blind man was restored to sight, was able to come to the knowledge of many, because both the city was great, and the emperor was there at the time, and the thing was done in the presence of an immense crowd that hastened together to the bodies of the martyrs, Protasius and Gervasius; which bodies when hidden, and utterly unknown, were found from having been revealed, in a dream, to Bishop Ambrose.

T. vii. L. xxii. De Civit. Dei, c. vii. col. 1057-58.
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[He then gives an account of various other miracles, to one of which he was also an eye-witness.]"

"A great testimony does the Lord furnish to His witnesses, whereas He who ruled the hearts of His combatants, does not desert even the bodies of the dead; even as He exhibited a most illustrious miracle in regard of the body of this very saint, Vincentius; that the body which the enemy had desired, striven, — caused not to appear at all, should be discovered by so manifest a fiat of God, and exhibited to be more religiously inhumed and venerated, that so an illustrious memorial might endure in him of conquering piety, and of conquered impiety. Truly precious in the sight of God is the death of His saints; when not even the earth of the flesh is, after life has abandoned it, contemned; and, after the invisible soul has gone forth from the visible body, the dwelling-place of His servant is preserved by the care of the Lord, and is honored by His faithful fellow-servants unto the glory of the Lord. For what does God, by performing marvelous works near the bodies of the saints, but furnish a testimony, that what dies perishes not to Him; and it may hence be understood in what honor He holds the souls of the saints who are with Him, when the exanimate flesh is adorned with so mighty an operation (effect) of the divinity. For, as the Apostle, speaking concerning the members of the Church, used a similitude drawn from the members of our body (saying), that, those which are the less honorable members of the body, about these we put more abundant honor (1 Corinthians 12); so the providence of the Creator, by granting so illustrious testimonies of miracles to the dead bodies of martyrs puts more abundant honor about the bloodless relics of men; and that which, the life having left it, now remains as something without beauty, there the giver of life is seen to be more evidently present."

T. v. Serm. cclxxv. in Natal. S. Vincent, n. 3, col. 1631.
See also the next sermon, col. 1635, B. C.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 288-289

He says of the relics of St. Stephen:

"A little dust has assembled together so great a multitude; the dust lies hidden, but the benefits are visible. Think, most beloved, what things God reserves for us in the land of the living, He who bestows things so great from the dust of the dead."

T. v. Serm,. cccxvii. n. 1, col. 1870.

Again of the same relics, he says:

"In this place we have not made an altar to Stephen, but of the relics of Stephen we have made an altar to God, such altars are pleasing to God."

T. v. Serm. cccxviii. De Martyr. Steph. col. 1874.
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St. John Cassian, (A.D. c.360 - 433), ordained a deacon by St. John Chrysostom and a priest in Marseilles, a Christian theologian celebrated in both the Western and Eastern Churches for his mystical writings. He is known both as one of the "Scythian monks" and as one of the "Desert Fathers". His opinions on grace being in opposition somewhat to those of St. Augustine and the Church, caused him to be opposed by St. Prosper.

"The bodies of these holy men were seized upon, and placed amongst the relics of martyrs, with so great veneration, by the whole population of Arabs, that the entire inhabitants of both cities rushed together in violent conflict, and their dispute proceeded even to the use of swords, in order to obtain possession of the sacred treasure."

Col. vi. Abb. Theod.p. 134, t. vii. ; Bib. Max. SS. PP.
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St. Nilus the Elder, (c. A.D. 385 - c. 430) (also known as Nilus of Sinai, Neilos, Nilus of Ancyra), Syrian, was one of the many disciples and fervent students of St. John Chrysostom; an eyewitness of the martyrdom of Theodotus.

"What a suitable place I see here, said Theodotus, "for the reception of holy relics". Why are you backward? And the presbyter said, "Do you strive for me in what I am wanting, and then blame my remissness (his meaning was about the bringing of holy relics); for I must needs, he said, be first furnished with relics, and then begin the building. But I beseech thee, father, do not neglect this work, but, as far as in you lies, make haste to complete it, for the relics will soon come. And whilst speaking thus, he drew oil off his ring, and gave it to the presbyter, saying, "The Lord be witness between us, that in a short time He will provide the relics, giving him to understand that he would either send another person or come himself. For he was soon to complete the course of his wrestling."

Martyr. St. Theod. a Nilo test. ocud. Galland. t. iv.p. 119.

Side note: From pages 128-130, [of this history] there is the account of the singular manner in which the priest obtained "the venerable (or precious) relics" of St. Theodotus.

The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 253

Philo of Carpasium, (late 4th to early 5th century), known as bishop of Carpasia (or Carpasium, in Cyprus), according to others bishop of Carpathus (an island between Crete and Rhodus), has hitherto enjoyed but slight repute as a Christian writer.

We will run after the of thine ointment (Canticle of Canticles 1:3). The Church is one, and yet he says, in the plural number, We will run; for, being many, we are one in Christ. Behold all running after the odor of the mysteries of Christ; for where the relics of martyrs lie, thither do we hasten, thither do we run to the odor of Christ's ointments."

Enarr. in Cant. Cantic. p. 724, t. ix. Galland.
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Zacchaeus, (unknown - A.D. c.430), name of a fabricated writer under which he defends Christianity. His real name seems to be Evagrius, who flourished in the late 4th century.

"There furthermore are extant the acts of the Apostles conversation amongst us, and we are taught to follow the form of justice well-nigh as if they were present, seeing that the things which we read that they did when alive, we frequently see done before the ashes even of the dead."

Consult. Zacch. et Apollon. 1. i. c. 21, p. 214; Galland, t. ix.
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St. Isidore of Pelusium, (unknown - A.D. 440), a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, he was born in Egypt to a prominent Alexandrian family. He became an ascetic, and moved to a mountain near the city of Pelusium, in the tradition of the Desert Fathers; known to us for his letters, written to Cyril of Alexandria, Theodosius II, and a host of others. His letters display great judgment, precision, and learning.

"If thou art scandalized at the dust of the bodies of martyrs being, on account of their love of God and their firmness, honored by us, interrogate those who are cured by those martyrs, and learn to how many afflictions they vouchsafe remedies. And then wilt thou not only not scoff at what we do, but thou wilt imitate what is in every way rightly done."

L. i. Epist. Iv. Hieraci,p. 17.
See also L. i. Ep. 63.
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St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

Julian: You, ye unfortunate men, worship the wood of the cross, making shadowy images of it upon your foreheads, and depicting those images on the porches of your houses.

St. Cyril: "As he calls those unfortunate men, who make it a matter of care and are especially sedulous about the duty of ever engraving, both on their houses and foreheads, the sign of the precious cross, we will without difficulty demonstrate that these foul words, which prove his extreme ignorance, proceed from his wicked thoughts. For the Lord and Saviour of us all ... endured the cross, despising the shame, that He might destroy the power of corruption; one dead and raised again in behalf of all, that He might rescue the human race from the snares of death... Of all these things that salutary wood excites the remembrance in us, and moreover moves us to reflect that, as the divine Paul says, One died for all. . . .We therefore, as I have said, make the wood of the precious cross into a remembrance of every good and of every virtue."

St. Cyril's reply to Julian s accusation about the honor paid to martyrs and their tombs. Ib. I. x. pp. 339-43.

Julian: "But this evil derived its origin from John (the Apostle). But who shall execrate as it deserves what you have invented for yourselves since then; introducing, besides that dead man who suffered long ago, numbers of other dead men. You have filled everywhere with tombs and memorials, although it is nowhere declared in your religion that you are to stretch yourselves upon tombs, and to venerate them. Whereas you have proceeded to such a pitch of wickedness, as to think that you ought not, in this matter, to listen even to Jesus the Nazarite. Hear, then, what He says concerning monuments, "Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you are like to whited sepulchers," (Matthew 22:27). If, then, Jesus declared sepulchers to be full of filthiness, how is it that you invoke God over them?

[St. Cyril shows that all men honor the memory and remains of those whose lives were distinguished and pre-eminent, and asks:]

"Why, then, does Julian so unjustly inveigh against the justice of Christians, if they too make much of the veneration and honor paid to the holy martyrs?"

T. vi. 1. vi. adv. Julian, pp. 194-5.
T. vi. I. x.1 adv. Julian, pp. 335-6.
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Apollinaris Sidonius, (A.D. c.430 - 489) Gallo-Roman; a poet, diplomat, and bishop.

"The body of Martin, where in even after life's close honor lives, is an object of veneration to all the earth. ... At once, by the grant of so powerful a patron, his temple has increased in size, and the builder thereof in merits."

L. iv. Epist. 18, p. 1098, t. vi. Bib. Max. SS. PP.
The Faith of Catholics, Volume 3, Page 293

"And as to you only has it been granted, since the time of the confessor Ambrose, who found two martyrs (St. Gervase and St. Protase), in the western districts, to translate the entire body of the martyr Ferreolus, together with the head of our (martyr) Julianus, it is nowise unjust to ask, by way of compensation, that a portion of patronage be derived to us from you, seeing that a part of (your) patronage has been restored to you from us."

Epis. 1. vii. Ep i. Mamerto, p. 519, t.x. Gallandii.
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Sozomen, (Salminius Hermias Sozomenus), (A..D. c.400-c.450), Palestinian; was a historian of the Christian church. He composed an Ecclesiastical History in nine books, comprising the period between A.D. 324 and 439.

"About this same time, Helen, the emperor's mother, arrived at Jerusalem, both to pray and to see the sacred places. And being piously disposed as regards the religion of Christians, she made it her great object to find the wood of the venerable cross. But neither the discovery of this, nor of the divine sepulcher, was an easy matter." He afterwards, notices the difficulty of distinguishing "the divine cross" from the others found with it, and ascribes its recognition to the cure performed on a noble matron who was dangerously ill; and notices, as a report, that a dead person was restored to life. "The divine wood having been found, the greater portion is even yet preserved at Jerusalem, in a silver case; and a part she conveyed to her son Constantine, together with the nails with which the body of Christ was pierced."

Having described, at some length, the place wherein the relics of the forty martyrs (of Sebaste) were deposited and hidden, and the way in which they were kept so long concealed, he describes their discovery as follows: "Pulcheria Augusta, the sister of the emperor, was the discoverer of them. For the admirable (martyr) Thyrsus, appearing thrice to her, made known to her the martyrs that were hidden under the earth, and commanded them to be translated to him, so as to share the like deposition, and honor. And the forty (martyrs) also, clothed in resplendent robes, showed themselves unto her. But the thing seemed past all belief, and utterly impracticable. For not even the oldest clergyman, though frequently interrogated, nor anyone else, could discover the martyrs. But at last when all were without hope, the divine power brought into the mind of a certain presbyter, named Polychronius, who had formerly been one of the familiar acquaintances of Caesarius, the monks that once dwelt on that spot.

[He narrates in what manner one of those monks was found, and many minute particulars relative to the spot, and shrine where the martyrs had been deposited, and adds:]

She then returned thanks in prayer to God, that she was found worthy of such a sight, and had made the discovery of the sacred relies. Afterwards having honored the martyrs with a most costly shrine, she deposited them near the admirable Thyrsus; a public festival, as was proper, being celebrated, with due honor and pomp, and singing of psalms: at which I also was present. And that these things happened in this wise, they who were present at the festival will testify; for almost all are yet alive."

H. E. L. ii. c. i. pp. 43-45.
H. E. L. viii. c. ii. pp. 366-368.
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St. Avitus, (Alcimus Ecdicius), (A.D. c.470-525), a Latin poet and Anti-Arian archbishop of Vienne in Gaul, born of a prominent Gallo-Roman senatorial family

"For which cause, even though we thought that you had by you the security of the relics of the sacred cross, we should still think that we ought to ask for this mighty boon from the holy bishop of the city of Helia (Jerusalem)."

He returns thanks to that bishop, in Ep. xxiii., for a particle of the cross which he says, "Is not to be estimated by its size, but by the value of salvation."

Ep. xviii. p. 718, L x. Galland.
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God alone is the object of our worship and adoration; but Catholics show honor to the relics of saints; and they place images and pictures in their churches to reduce their wandering thoughts and to enliven their memories towards heavenly things. They show a respect to:

      • the representations of Christ
      • the mysteries of their blessed religion, and
      • of the holy saints of God

beyond what is due to every profane figure; not that they believe any virtue resides in the relic, they honor; but because the honor given to the relic is referred to the prototype, or the thing being represented.


The Church's Scriptures that support the Relics of Saints:


The mantle of Elias parts the water so Eliseus can pass over.

13 And he took up the mantle of Elias that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle of Elias that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Elias?" And when he had struck the waters, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Eliseus went over.

2 Kings 2: 13-14

Contact with Elisha's bones restored life

20 So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet.


2 Kings 13:20-21

The woman who was suffering a hemorrhage is made well after touching Jesus' garment

20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment; 21 for she said to herself,
"If I only touch his garment, I shall be made well." 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." And instantly the woman was made well.


Matthew 9:20-22

Cures performed through Peter's shadow

15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that when Peter came, his shadow at the least might overshadow any of them, and they might be delivered from their infirmities. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.


Acts 5:15-16

Cures through handkerchiefs or aprons that touched Paul

11 And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12 So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them.


Acts 19:11-12

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