TRUMBULL—An exposition of sacred relics was held on Wednesday evening, April 10 at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull. Fr. Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross presented a multi-media production and teaching event, followed by the opportunity for attendees to venerate the first class relics of over 150 saints, such as those of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Padre Pio, and St. Maria Goretti. Highlights included one of the largest remaining pieces of the True Cross as well as a portion of the Veil worn by the Virgin Mary.
“We give people the experience of the living God through these relics,” said Fr. Martins, who travels the world with Treasures of the Church, his ministry of evangelization. “The saints are masterpieces of creation.”
In bringing these expositions to churches, schools, and prisons over the past 20 years, Fr. Martins educates participants on the history of the relics, the powerful intercessions that occur from people’s encounters with them, and the miraculous stories of the saints themselves. To ensure preservation, relics are housed in a theca, a round metal casing which is protected by glass, making the relic clearly visible. The saint’s name is handwritten on a label, and the back of the theca is sealed with string or wire and a wax imprint to confirm authenticity. It is then placed in a reliquary, an ornate vessel appropriate for display.
The majority of relics exhibited by Fr. Martins are first class relics, typically the bone or body fragments of the saint or pieces of their hair. Second class relics, he explained, include objects that a saint personally owned such as clothing or a book, while third class relics are other items, often pieces of cloth or holy cards, which have been touched to a first or second class relic.
“Relics are a means God chooses to draw our attention to the saints as models and intercessors,” said Fr. Martins. “They allow healing with material objects.”
Attendees at St. Theresa were enthralled with Fr. Martins’ stories of such healing, including one of a man from Houston, paralyzed for 54 years, who approached a relic in his wheelchair, placed his hand upon it, then stood up and walked home. He also recounted the experience of a little girl with abdominal cancer, whose tumor disappeared with no scientific explanation after she touched a relic.
“That’s God,” Fr. Martins explained. “He touches so gently, so much so that we may not perceive it.”
Following the presentation, the faithful venerated the scores of relics on display at St. Theresa School, touching rosary beads and personal objects to such reliquaries as those containing the hair of St. Bernadette of Lourdes and the bone particles of St. Francis Cabrini. Many waited on line for the rare occasion to stand, even for just a moment, in the presence of Our Lady’s Veil and the True Cross.
John Angiolillo, a member of the Knights of Columbus at St. Theresa who assisted at the event, commented on how important this exposition of relics was to many people. “This is a wonderful opportunity to venerate and pray for healing and well-being,” he said.
Reflecting on Fr. Martins’ story of hope and healing through St. Maria Goretti, who forgave her assailant and died from her injuries at age 11, Fr. Brian Gannon, pastor of St. Theresa Church, said, “Her story shows us the power of forgiveness. And these relics give people a palpable sense of the communion of saints. Holiness is in our grasp.”
Having traveled the world for over 20 years and been hosted by almost 200 dioceses, these sacred relics have allowed holiness to be in the grasp of thousands of Catholics who desire an experience that brings them closer to God through His saints.