Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius ofAntioch, 1st c. A.D

Relics and
the Incorruptibles

Exodus13:19 "And Moses took Joseph's bones with him: because he had adjured the children of Israel, saying: God shall visit you, carry out my bonesfrom hence with you."

4 Kings 13:20-21 "And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year. And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus.And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life and stood upon his feet."

Matthew 9:20-22 "And behold a woman who was troubled with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of His garment. For she said within herself: If I shall touch only His garment, I shall be healed. But Jesus turning and seeing her, said: Be of good heart, daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour."

Acts 19:11-12 "And God wrought by the hand of Paul more than common miracles. So that even there were brought from his body to the sick, handkerchiefs and aprons: and the diseases departed from them: and the wicked spirits went out of them."


It's funny to me how a culture that is filled with autograph hounds and those who clamor to be around those glittered with "star dust" canconsider the Catholic veneration of relics as a joke. A lovely dish is just a lovely dish, but one owned by your great-grandmother is a treasure. Some stranger's pocketwatch is just a timepiece, but one given to you by your grandfather is something you'd literally mourn losing. We pay $20,000 for a $200 jacket worn by Jacqueline Kennedy, faint at Beatles concerts, engage in riotous behavior to get our hands on one of Elvis's scarves, but when a relic of St. Catherine is mentioned, people snicker.

As you can see, however, from the verses above, veneration of relics is absolutely scriptural, and the earliest Christians saw things in the same way as did the ancient Israelites and those in the New Testament accounts. St. Augustine (A.D. 354 - 430) wrote in City of God:

If a father's coat or ring, or anything else of that kind, is so much more cherished by his children, as love for one's parents is greater, in no way are the bodies themselves to be despised, which are much more intimately and closely united to us than any garment; for they belong to man's very nature,

St.Jerome (ca. A.D. 340 - 420) clarified Catholic belief in his Ad Riparium:

We do not adore, I will not say the relics of the martyrs, but either the sun or the moon or even the angels -- that is to say, with the worship of "latria"...But we honor the martyrs' relics, so that thereby we give honor to Him Whose [witness] they are: we honor the servants, that the honor shown to them may reflect on their Master... Consequently, by honoring the martyrs' relics we do not fall into the error of the Gentiles, who gave the worship of "latria" to dead men.

When considering relics, it is to be remembered that the body and soul are forever one, even when they seem to be separated by death.1 The body of the saved will be resurrected and glorified (the bodies of the damned will also be resurrected, for that matter). Forever is there a connection between the remains and the soul that has departed from them-- and the great souls whose remains are left to us have a power described well by St. John of Damascus (a.k.a. "John Damascene"), ca.A.D. 676 - 754/87, in his "Exposition of the Orthodox Faith":

These [the bodies of the Saints] are made treasuries and pure habitations of God: For I will dwell in them, said God, and walk inthem, and I will be their God. The divine Scripture likewise saith that the souls of the just are in God's hand and death cannot lay hold of them. For death is rather the sleep of the saints than their death. For they travailed in this life and shall to the end, and Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. What then, is more precious than to be in the hand of God? For God is Life and Light, and those who are in God's hand are in life and light.

Further, that God dwelt even in their bodies in spiritual wise, the Apostle tells us, saying, Know ye not that your bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you?, and The Lord is that Spirit, and if any one destroy the temple of God, him will God destroy. Surely,then, we must ascribe honour to the living temples of God, the living tabernacles of God. These while they lived stood with confidence beforeGod.

The Master Christ made the remains of the saints to be fountains of salvation to us, pouring forth manifold blessings and abounding in oil of sweet fragrance: and let no one disbelieve this. For if water burst in the desert from the steep and solid rock at God's will and from the jaw-bone of an ass to quench Samson's thirst, is it incredible that fragrant oil [see below] should burst forth from the martyrs' remains? By no means, at least to those who know the power of God and the honour which He accords His saints.

In the law every one who toucheth a dead body was considered impure, but these are not dead. For from the time when He that is Himself life and the Author of life was reckoned among the dead, we do not call those dead who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection and in faith on Him. For how could a dead body work miracles? How, therefore, are demons driven off by them, diseases dispelled, sick persons made well, the blind restored to sight, lepers purified, temptations and troubles overcome, and how does every good gift from the Father of lights come down through them to those who pray with sure faith?

See also this excerpt from the Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans, by St. John Chrysostom (A.D. 347 - 407). 


Classes of Relics

1st Class Relic:

a part of the Saint (bone, hair, etc.) and the instruments of Christ'spassion

2nd Class Relic:

something owned by the Saint or instruments of torture used against a martyr

3rd Class Relic:

something that has been touched to a 1st or 2nd Class Relic. You can make your own 3rd Class relics by touching an object to a 1st or 2nd Class Relic, including the tomb of a Saint.

Relics in churches or chapels are usually kept in one of two places: in a cavity ("sepulchre") inside the Altar or in a "reliquary." Reliquaries have taken on a variety of shapes -- boxes, Noah's Arks, caskets, the shape of an arm, leg, head, etc.. -- and some are exquisite specimens of gold and silversmithing.

Medieval reliquary

The Treatment of relics

CanonLaw 1190
§1 It is absolutely wrong to sell sacred relics.
§2 Distinguished relics, and others which are held in great veneration by the people, may not validly be in any way alienated nor transferred on a permanent basis, without the permission of the Apostolic See.

While selling relics ("simony") is wrong, it is permissible to buy them if they will be marketed anyway and buying them would save them from desecration. This must be done only if the good that comes from buying the relic outweighs other uses the money spent could be used for -- and this should never be done at auction because bidding would only drive up the price, forcing others who simply want to rescue relics to pay more. This could also increase the likelihood of a market developing in the sale of relics.

Relics may be legitimately obtained from Church sources, i.e., the Vicariate in Rome, the religious Order of the Saint involved, the shrine of the Saint involved, etc. When this is done, a donation is usually expected to cover the cost of the metal container (theca) that contains the relic, but in any case, a profit cannot legitimately be made from the sale of relics by anyone.

Particular Relics 

I thought I'd list the locations of some of the major first class relics here so that you'll know where to find them if you're blessed to make a pilgrimage to these locations. The sites below house the greatest part of the given relic, but tinier pieces may be found throughout the world, especially in the Altars of Catholic churches.

Note that some of the Saints are marked as "incorrupt"; this refers tothe phenomenon whereby some Saints' bodies do not corrupt after death. An example is St. Bernadette Soubirous, who saw Our Lady at Lourdes and who now lies in a glass coffin at her convent in Nevers, France. Though she died in A.D. 1879, she is as lovely as she ever was.

Other examples are those of Blessed Imelda Lambertini, who died in ecstasy during her First Communion in A.D. 1333 at age 11 (I am uncertain how accurately the picture at right represents Imelda's state of preservation; this may be a wax figure); of St. Catherine Labouré, who had the vision of Our Lady which led to the minting of the Miraculous Medal and who died in A.D. 1876; of St. Maria Mazzarello, the first Salesian Sister, who died in A.D. 1881; and of St. John Vianney,Curé d'Ars, who died in A.D. 1859 (see pictures at right). There are many more.

This phenomenon of incorruptibility is often accompanied by a sweet fragrance, known as the "odor of sanctity," which has been described as being unlike any known perfume. Another related phenomenon is the flow of a healing liquid, called "oil of saints," which exudes from the Saint's body or tomb. In the case of some Saints who exude this "oil," the flow of liquid is periodic and not constant (the famous flow of "oil" from the relics of St. Walburga, who is not incorrupt, is periodic like this).

No one knows why some Saints are preserved from corruption while others aren't, and incorruptibility is never seen, in itself and by itself, as a proof of holiness. It is a good indicator of such when the deceased was known for his life of faith and virtue -- but it's a phenomenon that can be mimicked by science, by the effects of natural conditions, and by the demonic.

A final note on the phenomenon of incorruptibility: don't let anyone try to tell you that Pope John XXIII (d. 1963) is one of the"incorruptibles." While his body was found to be well-preserved when he was exhumed in January, 2001, there is no miracle because he was injected with formalin (a mixture of formaldehyde and methyl alcohol) and other preservatives by Dr. Gennaro Goglia -- i.e., he was embalmed. Then he was sprayed with an anti-bacterial agent and placed in a three layer air-tight coffin which was itself put inside a marble sarcophagus -- all in optimal, dry conditions for preservation. Though the Vatican denies any unnatural preservation in his case, one still hears some Catholics claim that Pope John XXIII is "incorrupt."

Now, on to the list of relics...


Where you can venerate
some First Class Relics



St. Longinus' Lance (lance of the Roman soldier whopierced Christ's side)
Where: Hofburg Treasure House,Vienna, Austria. The shaft of the lance is at St. Peter's Basilica,Rome.

Relic: St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Where: Convent of St. Elizabeth,Vienna, Austria. Preserved here is St. Elizabeth's skull, crowned with the crown she wore in life.



St. Boniface of Brussels, Bishop of Lausanne
Where: Notre Dame de la Chapelle, Brussels, Belgium


St. Dymphna
Where: Church of St. Dymphna,Gheel (province of Antwerp), Belgium



St. Isaac Jogues, St. Jean de Brébeuf, and Companions
Where: The Martyrs' Shrine, Highway 12, Midland, Ontario, Canada


St. Kateri Tekakwitha
Where: Saint Francis-Xavier Mission Church, Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada

Relic: St. Anne
Where: Church of Ste. Anne deBeaupré, Ste. Anne de Beaupré, Montmorency county, Quebec, Canada (the majority of St. Anne's relics are in Apt, Bouches-du-Rhone, Provence,France).

Czech Republic


St. Wenceslaus, St. Vitus
Where: Cathedral of St. Vitus,Prague, Czech Republic

Relic: St. Ludmilla
Where: St. George's Basilica, Prague, Czech Republic

Though not a shrine in honor of canonized Saints, also of note in theCzech Republic is "Sedlec Ossuary" ("Kostnice") of the Cistercian All Saints chapel in Sedlec, a suburb on the outskirts of the town of KutnaHora, about 45 miles East of Prague. In A.D. 1278, the abbot there went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and brought back some soil, which he poured over the cemetery ground. Christians, then, wanted to be buried in that soil when they died, but after a time the graveyard became too crowded, especially in A.D. 1318, when 30,000 people were buried after dying from the Plague. An ossuary was built so that the older bones could be dug up and new bodies buried. A woodcarver was later hired to decorate the chapel, and he used the bones decoratively. The ossuary came to be adorned -- literally -- with the bones of around 40,000 Christians. You can see some pictures of this fascinating place at this website, and see this page for a Quicktime panoramic view of the place. (links will open in a new browser window)



Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres (incorrupt), and the miraculous image of Our Lady of Good Success
Where: Mother Mariana lies in a glass coffin at the cloistered Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Quito, Ecuador. The miraculous statue can be seen by the public at these times: during the novena anticipating the Feast of the Purification, from around January 24 to February 2; during the month of May; during the month of October.



St. Mark, Evangelist
Where: St. Mark Church in Alexandria, Egypt. (Cenotaph in Church of San Marco Venice, Italy where his relics had been taken during the Crusades.)



The Venerable Bede
Where: Galilee Chapel, Durham Cathedral, County Durham, England

Relic: St. Edward the Confessor(incorrupt)
Where: Westminster Abbey, London, England

Relic: St. John Southworth
Where: Westminster Cathedral (Precious Blood Cathedral), London, England. St John was hanged, drawn,and quartered during the Protestant "Reformation" for celebrating the Traditional Mass. The quarters of his body and his head were recovered after the execution, reassembled and sent to the Catholic Seminary at Douai, where it was buried during the Napoleonic purges in France. The relic was re-discovered in the last century during construction work to build a new road, and is now contained within a silver effigy, dressed in red Mass Vestments and contained within a glass reliquary in the Chapel of Saint George and the English Martyrs.

Relic: St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher
Where: Church of St. Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London (St. Thomas More's head, after it was removed, was boiled and displayed, after which it was to be thrown in to the Thames River. His daughter rescued it by bribing the guard and allegedly buried it in her husband's family vault).



St. Francis de Sales
Where: Church of the firstMonastery of the Visitation, Annecy, France (his incorrupt heart is preserved at the Monastery of the Visitation, Treviso, Italy).


St. John Vianney (incorrupt)
Where: Basilica at Ars, France

St. John Vianney
St.John Vianney, d. 1859


St. Simon Stock
Where: Carmelite monastery,Bordeaux, France (his skull is preserved at Aylesford, Kent, England)


Where: Abbey of Hautvillers,Champagne, France (diocese of Reims). Her relics were translated here from Constantinople in A.D. 849 (Note: it is in this abbey that the pirest, Dom Pierre Perignon, invented Champagne in the 17th century. He, too, is buried here).


St. Thérèse of Lisieux
Where: Chapel of the Convent of Carmel, Lisieux, France


St. Bernadatte (incorrupt)
Where: Convent of St. Gildard in Nevers, France

St.Bernadette Soubirous, d. 1879
Click to enlarge


St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (unsure as to whether or not she is incorrupt; I've read that her relics are not incorrupt, but are kept in a figurine of her which makes her appear incorrupt)
Where: Shrine of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Paray-le-Monial, France


St. Genevieve
Where: Church of Saint Etienne-Du-Mont, Paris, France

Relic: Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross
Where: Kept, starting with King St. Louis IX, at Ste. Chapelle, Paris, France (on the Ile de la Cité,near Notre Dame) -- a chapel the sainted King built just for theserelics. Removed during the French Revolution and placed in the Bibliotheque Nationale. They are now at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (but visit Ste. Chapelle anyway! It is stunning...).

Relic: St. Catherine Labouré(incorrupt)
Where: Chapel of the Sisters of Charity Convent, 140 Rue du Bac, Paris, France

St. Catherine Laboure
St.Catherine Labouré, d. 1876

Relic: St. Vincent de Paul(incorrupt)
Where: Church of St. Vincent dePaul, Rue de Sevres, Paris, France (his heart is at the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal)

St.Vincent de Paul, d. 1660


St. Mary Magdalen
Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France

Seine et Marne

St. Fiacre
Where: Cathedrale de Meaux, Seineet Marne, France


Relic: St. Martha
Where: The tomb of St. Martha can be found in l'Église Sainte-Marthe de Tarascon in Tarascon, Provence, France

Saint Denis

St. Denis (Dionysius); St. Louis IX
Where: Basilica of St. Denis, St.Denis, France (now a northern suburb of Paris). Along with the relics of St. Denis and King St. Louis IX, you will find here almost all the remains of French monarchs from Dagobert I on. During the French Revolution, the contents of the tombs were emptied into a mass grave, but were later recovered and put into a large ossuary inside the Basilica.


St. Thomas Aquinas
Where: Couvent des Jacobins, Toulouse, France


St. Vincent Ferrer
Where: Cathedral of Vannes,Vannes, France



The Three Magi
Where: Discovered in Persia, brought to Constantinople by St. Helena, transferred to Milan in the fifth century and then to the Cathedral of Cologne, Germany in A.D. 1163, where they've been ever since.

Relic: St. Ursula
Where: Ursalaplatz (Church of St.Ursula), Cologne, Germany

Relic: St. Albert the Great
Where: Komdienstraße (Church ofSaint Andreas), Cologne, Germany


St. Hildegard von Bingen
Where: Parish church of Eibergen, Eibergen, Germany (originally buried at the graveyard of the convent of Disibodenberg. Translated to present location in A.D. 1642).


St. Walburga
Where: Church of St. Walburga, Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany. Her relics exude a healing "oil of Saints" between 12 October and 25 February, her Feast in the Benedictine Breviary.


St. Boniface
Where: Cathedral of Fulda, Fulda,Germany


St. Mundita
Where: Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church), Rindermarkt 1 (near the Rathaus), Munich, Germany. I have no idea who this Saint is, but her skeleton is gilded, bejeweled, and kept in a glass case. Fitted with glass eyes, she seems to stare at you from the beyond...


Christ's Robe
Where: Cathedral of St. Peter,Trier, Germany. The "tunica Christi" was brought to Trier by St. Helena.



the right hand King Saint Istvan (Stephen) (this relic is known as the "Holy Right")
Where: Saint Istvan's Basilica,Buda (the western part of Budapest)



St. Thomas the Apostle
Where: Santhome Cathedral,Chennai, India


St. Francis Xavier (incorrupt)
Where: Basilica Bom Jesus, Goa,India


Ireland (Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland)


SS. Patrick, Brigid, and Columba (a.k.a. "Columcille")
Where: Cathedral of Down, Downpatrick, Northern Ireland


St. Valentine
Where: The Carmelite Whitefriar Church, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. At least some of the greater relics of St. Valentine were retrieved from the Cemetery of St Hippolytus, on the Tiburtine Way in Rome, and given to Fr. John Spratt by Pope Gregory XVI in 1836.



St. Andrew, Apostle
Where: Cathedral of Amalfi, Italy


St. Bernardine of Siena
Where: Basilica di S.Bernardino, Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy


St. Francis of Assisi
Where: Lower Church of the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi, Assisi, Umbria, Italy

Relic: St. Clare of Assisi, St. Agnes of Assisi, and their mother, Blessed Ortolana
Where: Basilica of Santa Chiara, Assisi, Umbria, Italy


St. Nicholas of Myra
Where: Translated from Myra to the Church of St. Stephen in Bari, Apulia, Italy in A.D. 1087 to save them from Muslim desecration.


St. Dominic
Where: Church of St. Dominic,Bologna, Italy

Relic: Blessed Imelda Lambertini(incorrupt?)
Where: San Sigismondo Church near the University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy. Blessed Imelda died in ecstasy while receiving her First Holy Communion. I am uncertain how accurately the picture above represents Imelda's state of preservation; this may be a wax figure. The translation of the Latin inscription above her tomb reads:

Imelda Lambertini

A virgin of Bologna in ancient Coenobio

St. Mary Magdalene in the Valley of Peter,
Emulating the innocent angel
When, long ago, she desired most passionately
To approach the sacred altar,
But did not reach it because of her tender youth.
Jesus Himself, overcome by her great love,
Four days before the Ides of May in the year 1333
He descending from heaven, restored her in a new miracle with the divine bread,
Embracing her as a spouse,
He filled her with so much ecstatic joy
That the bonds of her fragile body were broken
And her most innocent spirit flew away from this earth
To the eternal banquet of Christ.

Oh blessed citizen of Bologna
You whose bones protect this place with their religious power,
Watch over the chaste line of children,
And approach the celestial banquets.
Teach them to trample down the earthly delights, like you
And to always hope for immortality.
Blessed Imelda
BlessedImelda Lambertini, d. 1333


St. Gerard Majella
Where: Caposele, Italy


St. Rita of Cascia (incorrupt)
Where: Basilica of St Rita in Cascia, Italy


St. Benedict and St. Scholastica
Where: Abbey of Monte Cassino, on a hill overlooking Cassino, Italy


Blessed Margaret of Castello (incorrupt)
Where: Church of St. Domenico,Castello, Italy


Relic: St. Mary of Egypt (skull)
Where: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore


Eucharist whose accidents had turned also to Flesh inA.D. 700
Where: Church of Lagontial,Lanciano, Italy. A Basilian monk who was offering Mass in the church of St. Legonziano in Lanciano began to doubt the real presence of Christ under the sacred species after the consecration. At that very moment, the priest saw how the sacred host was transformed into human flesh and the wine into blood, which later coagulated. Read about the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano and what science has discovered.


St. Ambrose
Where: Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio,Milan, Italy (crypt open on his Feast Day)

Relic: St. Charles Borromeo
Where: Cathedral of Milan, Italy


St. Veronica's Veil (?)
Where: Carthusian Monastery,Monoppello, Italy. If this is the true Veil of Vernoica, the historygoes like this: the veil had been kept at St. Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy (there is a niche for it near the statue of St. Veronica there), but was removed from there when St. Peter's was being rebuilt, and taken to this monastery in A.D. 1608. There is either a copy of the veil at the Vatican today in the aforementioned niche, or the one at the Vatican is the original (all other copies of the Veil were prohibited by Pope Paul V in 1616).


St. Januarius (Genarro)
Where: Cathedral of Naples,Naples, Campania, Italy. A vial of St. Genarro's dried blood liquefies and "boils" when brought near his head 18 times a year.

Relic: St. Mary of Egypt
Where: Santa Maria Egiziaca a Forcella


St. Clare of Montefalco (incorrupt)
Where: Church of the Holy Cross,Montefalco, Italy


St. Maria Goretti
Where: Our Lady of Grace, Nettuno,Italy


St. Anthony of Padua
Where: Basilica of St. Anthony,Padua, Italy. When St. Anthony's coffin was opened 30 years after his disposition, most of his body was found to have returned to dust but for his tongue, which remained fresh as a sign of his gift of preaching. It is this that is kept at the Basilica.

Relic: St. Luke
Where: Basilica of St. Justina in Padua, Italy


St. Augustine, Boethius (martyr whose cultus is approved in Pavia)
Where: San Pietro in Ciel D'Oro, in Pavia, Lombardy, Italy


St. Barbara
Where: Cathedral of Rieti, Italy


Titulus Crucis, a Crucifixion nail, relic of the True Cross, two thorns from the Crown of Thorns, the greater part of the sponge used to give Christ vinegar, a piece of the cross of the good thief (St. Dismas), finger of St. Thomas the Apostle
Where: Santa Croce in Gerusalemme (Holy Cross in Jerusalem) 12 Piazza di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme,Rome, Italy. The church, whose floor was packed with soil from the HolyLand, was consecrated about A.D. 325, in an older building that was rebuilt to house the Passion Relics brought to Rome by St. Helena, Constantine's mother. The "Titulus Crucis" is the sign that hung over Christ's Head, naming Him as "King of the Jews."

Relic: St. Agnes
Where: Sant' Agnese fuori le mura(St Agnes Outside the Walls), 364 Via Nomentana, Rome, Italy. The church is built over St. Agnes's tomb. Her head is preserved at the Sancta Sanctorum in the area.

Relic: Many Popes, including: St.Peter; St. Leo the Great; St. Gregory the Great; St. Pius X(incorrupt). Many Saints, including St. Gregory Nazianzen.
Where: San Pietro in Vaticano (St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy)

Relic: St. Jerome and St. Pius V(incorrupt), part of the manger, the icon Salus Populi Romani
Where: Santa Maria Maggiora (St.Mary Major) 42 Piazza di Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, Italy

Relic: St. Bartholomew, Apostle
Where: St.Bartholomew-in-the-Island, Rome, Italy

Relic: St. Lawrence and St.Stephen
Where: San Lorenzo fuori le Mura(St Lawrence outside the Walls, a.k.a. San Lorenzo in Campo Verano) 3Piazzale del Verano, Rome, Italy. The church is built over the tomb of St. Lawrence. St. Stephen was brought from Constantinople by PopePelagius II. Another church, San Lorenzo in Panisperna, was built over the place of St. Lawrence's martyrdom, and there one can see the gridiron upon which he was put to death.

Relic: St. Paul
Where: Some of St. Paul's relics are kept at the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls (San PaoloFuori Le Mura). At the Church of the Decapitation (Church of San PaoloAlle Tre Fontane), built over the site he was beheaded, you can see the marble column to which St. Paul was bound, the table on which he died,and three springs that sprang up at the spot where he was killed (the springs are now operated mechanically).

Relic: SS. Cosmas and Damian
Where: Church of Saints Cosmas and Damian, Rome, Italy

Relic: Hearts of Popes Sixtus V,Urban VII, Gregory XIV, Innocent IX, Clement VIII, Leo XI, Paul V,Gregory XV, Urban VIII, Innocent X, Alexander VII, Clement IX, ClementX, Bl. Innocent XI, Alexander VIII, Innocent XII, Clement XI, InnocentXIII, Benedict XIII, Clement XII, Benedict XIV, Clement XIII, ClementXIV, Pius VII, Leo XII, Pius VIII, Gregory XVI, Bl. Pius IX (all the Popes from Sixtus V, who died in 1590, to Pius IX, with the exception of Pius VI)
Where: Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio(Church of SS. Vincent and Anastasius), in the Piazza di Trevi, Rome

Relic: Steps of Pilate's house that Christ ascended for His sentencing (moved from Jerusalem to Romeby St. Helena)
Where: Basilica of St. JohnLateran, Rome, Italy. Also in this basilica is a monument to Pope Sylvester II that is said to "cry" before a Pope dies (its marblebecomes moist).

Relic: St. Cecilia
Where: Santa Cecilia in Trastevere, Rome, Italy. St. Cecilia was originally buried in the Catacombs of St.Callixtus (Catacombe di San Callisto), but in A.D. 821, Pope Paschal collected the remains of the Saints to preserve them from raiders. Her relics were moved to the church built in her honor, at the site of her home when she lived.

Relic: St. Sebastian
Where: Church of St. Sebastian, Rome, Italy. (St. Sebastian's head is at Church of the Four Crowned Martyrs -- "Santi Quattro Incoronati)

Relic: St. Monica
Where: Church of St. Augustine in Campo Marzio, Rome, Italy

Relic: St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Robert Bellarmine
Where: Church of the Gesu, Rome,Italy

Relic: St. Valentine
Where: Chiesa di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, on Rome’s Piazza Bocca della Verità, where the "Bocca della Verità" (the "Mouth of Truth" seen in "Roman Holiday") is located. This relic is St. Valentine's skull; most the rest of his relics are in Dublin, Ireland.

Relic: St. Catherine of Siena and Fra Angelico
Where: Altar at the Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy (St. Catherine's head is in the Church of San Domenico, Siena, Italy)

Also of interest in Rome are two sites rather like Kostnice in the Czech Republic (see above). The first is the Cimitero dei Capuccini,the Capuchin catacombs near Piazza Barberini. This subterranean crypt underneath the Church of Santa Maria della Concezione contains the bones of monks and others arranged in artistic designs. The second is S.Maria dell'Orazione e Morte, located at via Giulia 262. This place contains the bones of unknown people who died and had no one to bury them, and who were buried by a Confraternity that had charge of such things and offered Masses for their souls.

Relic: St. Peter and the Holy Machabees
Where: Church of San Pietro in Vincoli, Rome, Italy. (The chains used to bind St. Peter during his imprisonment in Jerusalem, the chains used to bind him during his imprisonment by Nero in Rome, and the relics of the Seven Holy Machabees).

San Giovanni Rotondo

St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio)
Where: Padre Pio Shrine, SanGiovanni Rotondo, Italy


St. John Bosco (incorrupt), St. Dominic Savio, St.Maria Mazzarello (incorrupt)
Where: Basilica di MariaAusiliatrice (Mary Help of Christians), Turin, Piedmont, Italy. In Valsalice, Piedomont, you can see the room where St. John Bosco died,kept exactly as it was when he went to his Heavenly reward.

St. Maria Mazzarello
St.Maria Mazzarello, d. 1881

Relic: The Holy Shroud
Where: Royal Chapel of the Holy Shroud, Cathedral of San Giovanni, Turin, Piedmont, Italy (since A.D.1578). Please learn more about the most fascinating Holy Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo.


St. Lucy
Where: Church of San GeremiaVenice, Italy. Her remains, moved from Syr acuse to Constantinople, were translated from Constantinople to Venice in A.D. 1204. Her head,however, may be venerated at the Cathedral of Bourges France (it wassent to Louis XII).

Relic: St. Roch
Where: Church of San Rocco,Venice, Italy.


The pillar upon which St. Paul was martyred, Wrist bone of St. Paul
Where: Church of St Paul's Shipwreck, Saint Paul Street, Valletta. The church contains ornate baroque carvings covering almost the entire surface of the church and ornate statues that are paraded through the streets on the appropriate day.

Saint George Preca, various relics including a vial of blood
Where: Where: Blata l-Bajda, close by the mother house of the M.U.S.E.U.M. (Magister Utinam Sequator Evangelium Universus Mundus) Society, a group founded by the saint to promulgate the faith in Malta and abroad.


The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Where: the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. Read about Our Lady of Guadalupe and the miraculous tilma of St. Juan Diego here.



St. Martin de Porres
Where: Convent of the Holy Rosary, Lima, Peru



SS. Hedwig (Jadwiga) and Stanislaus
Where: Cathedral Basilica of St.Stanislaus and St. Wenceslaus. ("Wawel Cathedral"), Krakow, Poland



Venerable Mary of Agreda (incorrupt)
Convent of the Conception, Agreda, Spain


St. Teresa of Avila (incorrupt)
Where: Convent of St. Teresa, Avila, Spain (St. Teresa's heart is in the Carmelite Convent in Alba de Tormes, Spain)


St. James the Greater
Where: Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Compostela, Spain


St. John of God
Where: Iglesia de San Juan deDios, Granada, Spain. At the Museo de S. Juan de Dios. Calle Convalescencía, you can see the room in which he died, along with some of his belongings.


Sudarium of Oviedo (the second linen used to cover Jesus' Face at His entombment)
Where: Cathedral of Oviedo,Oviedo, Spain. Please learn more about the most fascinating Holy Shroud of Turin and the Sudarium of Oviedo.


St. John of the Cross
Where: Segovia, Spain



St. Birgitta
Where: Vadstena Cloister,Vadstena, Ostergotlands Lan, Sweden

United States

Chicago, Illinois

Over 2000 relics, including some of all 12 Apostlesand 24 of the 33 Doctors of the Church
Where: St. John Cantius Parish,825 North Carpenter Street Chicago, Illinois 60622-5405, Phone:312-243-7373

St. Marys, Kansas

Practically every Saint who's ever lived
Where: At St. Mary's Academy,there's a Relic Chapel that contains an incredible amount of first class relics (though no major tombs or shrines). The address is: St.Mary's Academy & College, 200 E. Mission Street, St. Marys, KS66536

Louisville, Kentucky

St. Bonosa and St. Magnus
Where: At St. Martin of Toursparish church, 639 South Shelby Street, Louisville, Kentucky, 40202

Emmitsburg, Maryland

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Where: Seton Shrine Chapel,Emmitsburg, Frederick County, Maryland

Relic: St. Frances Cabrini
Where: St. Frances CabriniShrine, 701 Fort Washington Avenue, New York City, New York

Maria Stein, Ohio

Practically every Saint who's ever lived
Where: Another Relic Chapel likethat of St. Mary's Academy in Kansas (no major tombs or shrines) is the Maria Stein Center. The address is: 2291 St. Johns Road, Maria Stein,Ohio 45860, (419) 925-4532

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

St. John Neumann
Where: National Shrine of SaintJohn Neumann, 1019 North Fifth Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19123

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Practically every Saint who's ever lived
Where: Another Relic Chapel --the largest in the United States -- is St. Anthony's Chapel in the MostHoly Name of Jesus parish. The address is: 1700 Harpster St.,Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Troy Hill).


1 So entwined are body and soul that there exists a rather creepy phenomenon by which recipients of organ transplants sometimes take on aspects of their donors' personalities:

Many different types of personality changes have been described following organ transplantation. These include changes in preferences for food, music, art, sex, recreation, and career [8], the experience of new memories [9], feelings of euphoria, enhanced social and sexual adaptation [10], improved cognitive abilities [11], and spiritual or religious episodes [12]. These changes were generally described as neutral or positive. However, troubling changes have also been reported. As many as 30–50% percent of heart transplant recipients experience emotional or affective issues [7,13], while others experience delirium [10], depression, anxiety [14,15,16], psychosis [17], and sexual dysfunction [18].

A report in the lay literature describes the case of Claire Sylvia who reported changes in her personality, preferences, and behaviors following a heart and lung transplant at Yale-New Haven hospital in 1988. Following surgery, Sylvia developed a new taste for green peppers and chicken nuggets, foods she previously disliked. As soon as she was released from the hospital, she promptly headed to a Kentucky Fried Chicken to order chicken nuggets. She later met her donor’s family and inquired about his affinity for green peppers. Their response was, “Are you kidding? He loved them… But what he really loved was chicken nuggets” (p. 184, [9]). Sylvia later discovered that at the time of her donor’s death in a motorcycle accident, a container of chicken nuggets was found under his jacket [9].

In addition to changes in preferences, some recipients describe new aversions after receiving a donor heart. For example, a 5-year-old boy received the heart of a 3-year-old boy but was not informed about his donor’s age or cause of death. Despite this lack of information, he provided a vivid description of his donor after the surgery: “He’s just a little kid. He’s a little brother like about half my age. He got hurt bad when he fell down. He likes Power Rangers a lot I think, just like I used to. I don’t like them anymore though” (p. 70, [8]). Subsequently it was reported that his donor had died after falling from an apartment window while trying to reach a Power Ranger toy that had fallen onto the window ledge. After receiving his new heart, the recipient refused to touch or play with Power Rangers [8].

Some recipients have reported “memories” that seem unrelated to their own lived experiences and involved sensory experiences that were, unbeknownst to them, related to their donor. For example, a 56-year-old college professor received the heart of a 34-year-old police officer who tragically lost his life after he was fatally shot in the face. Following the transplant, the recipient reported a peculiar experience, stating, “A few weeks after I got my heart, I began to have dreams. I would see a flash of light right in my face and my face gets real, real hot. It actually burns” (p. 71, [8]).

Source: Carter, Brian, Laveen Khoshnaw, Megan Simmons, Lisa Hines, Brandon Wolfe, and Mitchell Liester. 2024. "Personality Changes Associated with Organ Transplants" Transplantology 5, no. 1: 12-26. https://doi.org/10.3390/transplantology5010002

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