Relics from the Holy Mother, the Crown of Thorns, dozens of saints, draw prayers for miracles
By Dave Myers
Southwest Kansas Catholic
They came with handfuls of items to be venerated by hundred- and thousand-year-old saints, including more than 150 tiny pieces of earthly or bodily remains kept in small reliquaries.
There were relics of saints such as Francis of Assisi, Maria Goretti, Joachim and Anne, the parents of Christ, just to name a few; as well as a fragment of the clothing worn by the Blessed Virgin. There was a piece of Christ’s crib and a part of the iron that pierced Christ’s side as he hung on the cross.
Some held their items, including photos of loved ones who were ill, against the glass of the reliquary as a means of intercession, a prayer for a healing miracle.
It’s understandable if some of those entering the cathedral March 18 for an exposition of the holy relics had at least a few doubts as to their origins. These are tangible items, after all — bone fragments from the saints, wood from the true cross, separated only by a piece of glass.
That’s where Father Carlos Martins comes in. Father Martins is an Ontario-born priest belonging to the order “Companions of the Holy Cross.” He is the founder of “Treasures of the Church,” for which he travels around the world giving presentations and displaying some 150 or so relics of his collection of 4,000 relics.
Prior to the showing of the relics, Father Martins gave a one-hour presentation in the worship area in which he described, for example, how it is that the relic of the true cross in his display was not just one of a forest of supposed true cross relics that exist today, and is instead the real thing.
“In 315 AD, Constantine was the first Christian Emperor of Rome,” Father Martins said. “His desire was to convert all the people to the Christian faith.”
After some three centuries of Christians being fed to the lions, Constantine knew this would take some work. He decided that obtaining some actual Christian artifacts to display to his people would help. So, he sent his mother, (Saint) Helena in search of pieces of the True Cross.
“She was given a revelation that she would find the True Cross on the West side of Jerusalem,” Father Martins explained. Helena discovered the remains of three crosses. How would she know which was the True Cross of Jesus?
“Helena was very clever,” Father Martins said. Helena found a woman who was affected with a grievous disease. Helena led the woman to each cross, which she touched with no effect until she came to a cross that immediately healed her affliction.
The story, the history, the effect that this God-made-man had on each person and on the entire world — told even way back when Christ walked the earth, led those at the time that these items were deeply holy and needed to be kept and treasured.
Once in the gathering space after Father Martin’s presentation, people processed solemnly around the room filled with tables on which sat the reliquaries and a plaque describing each saint. Many people knelt before the holy relics, one woman making her way around the large room, kneeling before each of the 166 reliquaries.
Another woman knelt and prayed reverently before the relic of St. Faustina, the young nun who was told by Jesus to paint him as he appeared to her, leading to the Feast of Divine Mercy, celebrated the first Sunday after Easter.
Among the many relics were those of Bernadette of Lourdes, the Apostle James the Greater (whom Jesus jokingly called “Son of Thunder” due to his voluminous preaching), John Paul II, Mother Teresa, John the Apostle, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, Rose of Lima, Therese of Lisieux (the Little Flower), and many others.
For more information on Father Martins and his Treasures of the Church presentation, visit http://treasuresofthechurch.com/. Click on the “more” tab to go to a gallery of photos.