Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Altered altars and the relic trade.

Did you know?

Altar stones contain relics of saints and martyrs.  They are placed in fixed, permanent altars in Catholic churches.  Altars are dedicated, usually by the Bishop of the place.

I once came across some altar stones containing sacred relics in the basement of a parish church which had merged with another parish and obviously removed them from the altars of the closed church.  The altar stones containing the relics were unattended and carelessly stored, the saints relics contained in the stones were unidentifiable without the original documents.  That is too bad.  Sometimes relics appear online for sale, that is too bad as well.  I used to 'buy' relics - not altar stones - or rescue them when I could, which is why I know about relics and what can be done with them.  A priest once told me that I should never give them away as they belong to the Church and should be returned to the Church if and when I am unable to care for them.  I'm not sure that is rubric however.

Distinguished relics and those which are publicly venerated cannot be alienated or transferred without the permission of the Apostolic See.  I'm assuming that doesn't apply to altar stones?  Can they be given away for private use?

I read someplace that the placement of relics in a movable altar is not allowed - I think that refers to a movable altar in a church, and not a travelling altar however.  I suppose the Bishop would make that call.

[I know how important it is to be faithful to the letter, saying the black and doing the red.]

An example of a very nice movable altar.

1 comment:

  1. I hope you can establish contact with this church. There are some places here in the Philippines that needs those altar stones, esp. for Mass.


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