Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Relics: Treasures of Heaven

 One of my parishioners was raving about the BBC 4 programme on relics: Treasures of Heaven wich can be watched on I-Player. It is a lead up to the British Museum's forthcoming exhibition.
Here is the BBC's blurb.
Andrew Graham-Dixon explores the ancient Christian practice of preserving holy relics and the largely forgotten art form that went with it, the reliquary. Fragments of bone or fabric placed inside a bejewelled shrine, a sculpted golden head or even a life-sized silver hand were, and still are, objects of religious devotion believed to have the power to work miracles. Most precious of all, though, are relics of Jesus Christ and the programme also features three reliquaries containing the holiest of all relics - those associated with the Crucifixion.
The story of relics and reliquaries is a 2,000-year history of faith, persecution and hope, reflected in some of the most beautiful and little known works of art ever made. Featuring interviews with art historian Sister Wendy Beckett and Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum.
I must say I am very uneasy about Holy things being treated as museum curiosities.
However this exhibition is bound to evoke some excitement and provoke questions about the Catholic Faith, the history and veneration of relics. I look forward to something coming from Ecclesdon Square to capitalise on this occassion for evangelisation. Maybe liturgies for the exposition of relics from the relevant office might be forthcoming.
The veneration of relics of course goes back to the Acts of the Apostles (ch 19) where St Paul sends "handkerchiefs" to people who want him to come and heal them.


pelerin said...

Thank you for the link Father. It was good to see a programme such as this with a presenter who did not show any anti-religious sarcasm. On the contrary he was most moved at times and on being shown the eye of Blessed Edward Oldcorn, and learning the details of what it meant to be hanged, drawn and quartered he seemed genuinely horrified.

Interestingly after having shown many much older relics, the programme finished by mentioning Archbishop Oscar Romero and showed details of a modern reliquary which is being made today to hold a small piece from his blood-stained alb.

The programme is indeed well worth watching and nice to see Sister Wendy Becket is still around. I wish they would repeat her earlier History of Art programmes which she made so informative and entertaining.

Ttony said...

"I look forward to something coming from Eccleston Square to capitalise on this occasion for evangelisation. Maybe liturgies for the exposition of relics from the relevant office might be forthcoming."


Can I have £1 for every hour you look forward?

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

I was given a piece of the blood stained shirt Blessed Miguel Pro was wearing when the Freemasons shot him.

I gave much of it to a Convent in Mexico City and to some Priests.

I have been left with a small piece of it in a vial provided to me by a jeweler.

It is very small now; the largest pieces went to the Priests and Religious.

If you would like to have this relic visit you, I would send it via Fedex.

Pope Saint Gregory the Great once said even the smallest part of a relic is as great as the whole.

I agree.

I would love for you to venerate this holy relic of a Mexican Martyr Priest in the beautiful Church you have remodeled.


terry said...

Very many thanks for the link, Father. Programmes like this make the licence fee worth paying.

Andrew Graham Dixon recently did a very good series entitled "The Art of Spain"

The episodes are on YouTube and no longer on the BBC site, unfortunately

You might be interested in this very sympathetic treatment of Avila in Spain where the relics of St Teresa of Avila are treated with due reverence. The Youtube link is http://youtu.be/Q1gPY2YptAs

The other parts of the episode and series on YouTube can be accessed from that clip

Anonymous said...

"Can I have £1 for every hour you look forward?"

You are greedy! I would settle for 10p an hour and still end up wealthy.

Pachomius said...

"I must say I am very uneasy about Holy things being treated as museum curiosities."

Unfortunately, Fr., the answer to that is that at some time or another, most museum curiosities were sacred to someone, and many still are considered sacred.

We can of course demand special privileges for Christian artefacts, but we are rather unlikely to get it.

Lady.Rosary said...

These are one of a kind relics. I'm sure those who are privileged enough to view these religious articles will be surprisingly moved by their presence.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I would love to have a relic of Blessed Miguel here but official only formerly certified and seald relics can be venerated in Churches. So though it can be used as a private sourcre of devotion, iot cannot be venerated publicly, but what a treasure to have and how generous of you to share it.

Gigi said...

I've just managed to catch up with this. I agree with Pelerin; Mr Graham-Dixon presented in a very informative yet sensitive manner, and how lovely to see Sister Wendy pop up anywhere! I am also uneasy about holy relics and religious artefacts being housed in museums, but it is fair to say that many museum exhibits are sacred in some way to someone. I suppose preservation and respectful exhibition is a veneration of sorts.
This Blog is an endless source of information for me: I know nothing of Blessed Miguel Pro but will now try to rectify that, accompanied by a nice cup of Earl Grey. Thank you, SMCTOD!

Saint Michael Come To Our Defense said...

God be with you, Miss Gigi.

Here is a Blessed from the Cristero Rebellion you might also be interested in:



This little boy demonstrates how active the Saints and Blesseds are.

We only have to ask for their intercession.

I have some holy water from the well the Mexican Cristeros were dunked into in an attempt to get them to apostatize.

I am going to send it to the Padre in a couple of weeks.

Although we are many kilometers or miles apart, we stand shoulder to shoulder before the Blessed Sacrament.

Pray for the Holy Father and all his Priests and Religious.

Viva Cristo Rey!


Gigi said...

@STMCTOD: Thank you - I really knew nothing about Padre Pro. What I have read now has been so inspiring. I see that he even travelled to Charleroi in Belgium and ministered to the mining communities; part of my Dad's family settled there.
Thanks again; I will carry on reading what I can about this brave but unassuming young man. God bless!