If you are Roman Catholic it might be very easy to decide about relic possession and the rules that pertain to selling them or giving them away.
What happens if a relic is owned by a non-Catholic person or organization? What about all those relics in Merry Olde England in Anglican churches throughout the land. Can there be or are there dual claims?
Is there a way to distinguish between Catholic and non-Catholic relics?
Now, I read that a Catholic can give a relic but cannot sell it. Can he or she give it to a non-Catholic? Then what?
What about samples of relics given to labs and individuals for research: Can the church demand them back? Does the church have any legal standing?
And now the big question? Who owns the Shroud of Turin? Is it a spoil of war? Is it a theft from an ally? Does the Greek Orthodox Church have a legitimate claim? Does the modern state of Turkey have any claim to it? Is it a relic?
And since anyone can create a third class relic by touching something to a first class or second class relic, could things get out of bounds real quickly? Might test tubes in Arizona, in theory, be relics? Given our knowledge of particle physics, is touching, anymore, a valid criteria? Can a photograph of a relic – thanks to photons – be a third class relic? I guess that would not apply to digital photographs.
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For All The Saints is a Catholic ministry located in the diocese of El Paso, Texas. Our mission is to make authentic holy relics available to local parishes for feast days and other special occasions. If your parish wishes to borrow a relic or even sponsor a major veneration of several relics, please contact us. We currently have over 170 relics, available for loan to local parishes.