But, why is this a tradition in the Catholic Church? Why do we love relics and dead bodies so much?
In the United States, we do not have too many relics exposed for viewing. But, if you have been to Europe, you can't help but see relics all over the place. For instance:
- St. Francis Xavier's hand is in encased on the wall of the Gesu Church in Rome.
- St. Catherine of Siena's head is encased for viewing in a Church in Siena while her body resides in a Church in Rome.
- St. Vincent de Paul's incorruptable body is on display in Paris (picture on right).
So, why again do we do this? Why do we care so much about dead people? Why do we need to touch them? Isn't this all just a little freaky.
Well, let's let Sr. Mary Gabriel from the Sisters of Life explain from this one and a half minute audio clip from our last FOCUS Conference.
Material things can become holy. Jesus turned natural materials like bread and wine into something supernatural--His own body and blood. He used earthly things like mud to heal the blind. And, He is taking earthly things like ourselves and slowly making them into Himself. Our goal is to be like Him not in a vague sense, but in a tangible one. The saints are a visual witness to this. For St. Philip who lived with Jesus, this reality is even more...well, real.
For an article on the different types of relics and where you can find them go here.