Relics explained and unveiled at Cathedral

By Katie Chrisman

In the final stop of a five-city diocesan tour, Fr. Carlos Martins of the Companions of the Cross, delivered his presentation “The Treasures of the Church” to a packed Cathedral on May 7.

Following the presentation, Bishop Stephen Berg unveiled the newly-housed relics of Saints Blaise and Lucy. The presentation and unveiling were live streamed across the diocese, so those not able to attend were able to participate remotely.

Fr. Martins, the only certified person in all of North America to authenticate and encase relics on behalf of the Catholic Church, travels the country and world with over 150 relics speaking about their importance and the teachings of the Church.

He began his presentation not immediately speaking about relics, but instead touching on the four “handcuffs,” as he called them, which close people from grace.

Those handcuffs, he said, are the refusal to go to Mass, refusal to go to confession, failure to disclose everything in a confession and the refusal to forgive those who have hurt and/or wounded. He encouraged everyone to remedy those and they “will experience the power of God.” Those in attendance were also asked to make a point to commit to correcting any handcuffs in their lives prior to viewing the relics at the conclusion of the evening. 

Fr. Martins used St. Maria Goretti as an example of such forgiveness and mercy. Maria Goretti, a child when she was martyred, is known for her courage and ability to forgive her attacker prior to her death. Her killer, Alessandro, went on to lead a virtuous life, all made possible because of Maria Goretti’s compassion and forgiveness. 

He also touched upon the Scripture references for relics, as well as emphasized the belief that relics are connected to the Holy Spirit. “God wants to draw attention to the saints as models and intercessors, “ he said, so he allows healings brought about by a material object. “The healer is God,” he said, “Relics are the means.” He recounted​ a recent healing of a man who was to go into surgery for an arm amputation from a brown recluse spider bite. The relic of St. Maria Goretti was placed on his arm and with no other explanation, was healed.

Fr. Martins went on to explain the process of validating relics on behalf of the Church and then about the process of sealing the diocese’s own relics into their new reliquaries. The process involved sealing them with a solution to protect the integrity of the bones. Through consultation with a rheumatologist and anthropologist, it is believed that the diocese possesses part of the left femur bone of St. Blaise and part of one of the leg bones of St.Lucy. It is believed that these relics were brought to the United States for safe-keeping during the bombings of World War II. Bishop Berg said that the diocese is “honored and privileged by our Lord” to possess these relics of substantial size.

Father Martins estimated he spent 40 hours over many weeks working on the relics of Sts. Blaise and Lucy. He would work in 30-minute segments to help the solution dry before applying another coat. The culmination of the evening, however, came with the ceremonial unveiling of the diocesan relics of Sts. Blaise and Lucy into the pavilion of the Cathedral. The saints were invoked during a chant of the Litany of Saints, and Sts. Blaise and Lucy were called upon to intercede for the diocese in a special way.

All are invited to view the relics at the Cathedral which will now be on permanent display. More information about the relics can be found at www.dioceseofpueblo.org/relics.