QUEZON City, March 20, 2014—The Catholic faithful only have until March 21, Friday, to view and venerate a sacred relic believed to be that of St. Joseph, which is on display at the Radio Veritas Chapel in West Avenue.
According to relic curator Rey Isabela, the relic is a piece of cloth allegedly belonging to St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose “Feast of Solemnity”, also known as “St. Joseph’s Day”, Catholic Christians around the world commemorate every March 19.
The public viewing started on March 17 and has since attracted Catholics of all stripes, from the genuinely religious to the merely curious. Visitors can see and venerate St. Joseph’s holy relic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The relic is part of the “Arma Christi Reliquary” and has been loaned to Radio Veritas by the Works of the Saints Apostolate, a Parañaque-based Catholic group, whose mission is to “make the lives of saints known through the veneration of holy relics as encouraged by the Holy Father in the spirit of the New Evangelization”.
Isabelo said, the ex indumentis (Latin: “from the clothing) relic is encased inside an ornate reliquary and is classified as “second-class”.
The curator explained, sacred relics are classified as first-class, second-class, and third-class, depending on how closely associated these are to the saint.
A first-class relic refers any item directly associated with events in the life, for example, of Jesus like the manger, a splinter from the Cross, the lance used to pierce His side, and others. The physical remains of a saint like a strand of hair, a piece of bone, skull, are also considered first-class relics. And because of how they testified to and died for the faith, tradition has it that the relics of martyrs are more valuable than those of non-martyrs.
A second-class relic is any item that a saint wore. It could be a shirt, a glove, among others. Any object that a saint owned or frequently used such as a rosary, book, etc., also falls under this category. As a rule, the more important an item was to a saint’s life, the more important the relic is.
Any object touched to a first- and second-class relic becomes a third-class relic.
Although the Catholic Church makes it clear that a relic should not be worshipped, emphasizing that worship and adoration should be accorded only to God, it often gives rise to the erroneous accusation that Catholics are “idolaters”.
But St. Jerome of Stridon, the “Doctor of the Church” who translated the Holy Bible into Latin, taught, “We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the Creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore Him whose martyrs they are.” (Raymond A. Sebastián)