Sacra: Relics of the Saints (Restoration, Catechesis, Consultation)

Relics play a key role in liturgical arts. They adorn nearly all altars. Today there are a lot of people asking about preservation and repair of relics and reliquaries, seals, restoring documents, authentication, identification, provenance, etc. These days many relics are owned by private individuals and not just churches.  

Sacra: Relics of the Saints is the go to for all things sacred relics. Sacra works with parishes, individuals, religious communities, dioceses, and archives to identify, document, authenticate, and repair relics. Sacra does important consultation work for postulators and religious superiors to prepare relics for veneration and to aid parishes in acquiring relics for their altars and collections for public veneration. 

Sacra is therefore a key reference, resource, and contact for all things relics, providing crucial education about relics and hosting events that educate the lay faithful as well as priests and religious. 

The Sacra director is Sean Pilcher, a classics scholar and professor of Latin who founded this apostolate to educate the faithful as to the care and veneration of relics. He is available for interviews and questions. Donations can also be made here to help continue this important work.

Below is an image of restoration work by Sacra:

From the Sacra webpage on Relic Repairs:
One facet of our work at Sacra is repairing sacred relics. Anything with glue eventually needs fixing, and relics, however holy, are no exception. Repairing old cloth, or even bones, takes the utmost care, and is no trivial task.

Relics in our time need lots of work. Half a century or more of neglect, or even mistreatment, leaves many reliquaries tarnished, covered in dirty or dust, or left in disrepair. Sacred vessels made from precious metals should be stored in cool, dry places, and regularly kept up. A well-kept sacristy or capella can ensure minimal repairs are needed, but this has too often not been their treatment in recent years. Relics (and their documentation, a topic we shall treat in another series) left in disarray in a drawer or safe-box can become dirty or break. Even in the case of careful treatment over the centuries, some upkeep is necessary.

A relic that is in good repair and has been cleaned can make a difference in the lives of the faithful, too. A relic which is more easily visible and is not surround by grime is easier to pray with, less off-putting, and can draw us into the wonder and respect necessary for veneration. Relics that are unclear or dodgy looking can be an obstacle to devotion or a distraction.

Sacra repairs all manner of relics and reliquaries, whether the metals on the exterior need attention, or the relics themselves have become broken or dislodged on the inside. This last is a condition particularly grave, since a loose relic can rattle round and disintegrate over time.

Any repair is accompanied by a process of research of the relic’s origin and provenance, and an equally extensive documentation of the repairs made. It is imperative that any change to the condition or housing of a relic be documented properly, so that repairs or changes do not give rise to suspicions of inauthenticity in future.

Sacra recently cleaned and repaired a large collection of relics for a parish. Many had lost documentation, and the majority of them had undergone severe water damage.

A good clean can make a real difference. Let our outward care of these relics give increase to the devotion in our souls.

Relics, like vestments, language, gestures, and ceremonial are all elements that come together in the sacred liturgy and have great cultural and pedagogical importance for the common good of the Christian faithful. Relics have been venerated in the Church's public worship since the first century, with great reverence in order to magnify the inspiring lives of the saints and the intercessory prayer of the cloud of witnesses. The graces associated with relics and their veneration adds a sparkle to the spiritual life. 

God bless and reward Sean for his wonderful work with this growing apostolate. For those interested, Sean will be leading an exciting 12-day Sacred Relics Pilgrimage to Rome & Orvieto for the Holy Year (October 23 - November 3, 2025). All are welcome to join him. For more information, click HERE.


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