How relics became meaningful
For most of my life I wasn’t much into relics. The idea of having a bone chip of a saint or cloth touched to the body of a holy person didn’t hold a great deal of meaning for me. In fact, the relic of Saint Paula given to my parents by the Franciscan sisters who ran the Catholic hospital where I was born got lost in the shuffle at some point in my life. I just didn’t give relics much of a thought…..until my mother died!
My brother and I were sorting through her things, deciding what to do with various items. Immediately I knew I wanted something she’d worn; something that had been close to her body, something she treasured. And so I have her favorite gold medal – she’d purchased it on her one and only trip to Italy. My dad and I waited patiently as she carefully deliberated between several styles while trying to communicate with the store owner. When I wear it I’m transported back to the tiny shop in Rome and the wonderful trip we enjoyed together. When I take it from my drawer to put it on I remember seeing the medal on her no matter the outfit she was wearing, no matter the occasion. It seemed to go perfectly with sweats or with her cashmere jacket. It meant so much to her and because of that, it now means so much to me. It’s a relic and I love it. I love her. I feel close to her when I wear it.
I took some other things during those days of cleaning and sorting – a few of her favorite Christmas tree ornaments, some articles of clothing, a couple cookbooks, even her cake tester! Some may say they’re just “things”, but to me they’re so much more. They’re relics – precious items, reminders of her, even inspirational. Relics are usually described as “a part of a deceased holy person’s body or belongings kept as an object of reverence.” My mother was a holy person; always giving of herself to family, and neighbors alike. (Her giving usually took the form of cooking or baking food !) She was generous, kind, self-giving, and something of a perfectionist!
There’s another Mother in my life – Mother Theodore Guerin. I have one of her relics as well and to me it’s precious, a reminder of her, even inspirational. She was a holy person; always giving of herself. She too was generous, kind, self-giving and something of a perfectionist!
So, for the first half of my life I wasn’t much into relics but for the second half there is new meaning. I’m hanging on to them!