JUST as we would value Grandpa’s war medals, Great Grandma’s handmade doilies or Great Aunt and Uncle’s wedding photo to honour and remind us of our past family members, the Catholic Church values relics of the saints.
The relic of St Francis Xavier will be in St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Lithgow on Thursday (September 20) from 4pm until 6pm.
Normally housed in Rome, it has travelled only a couple of times outside of Italy.
Though Australia has been fortunate to host visiting relics in previous years, relics are still rare for the church in Australia.
The idea of relics is very big in European cultures, and not so much in Australia.
However, we are still very interested in the legacy of St Francis through his great missionary work including time spent in many countries including Japan and India.
A patron saint of Australia, St Francis Xavier was one of the original seven along with St Ignatius of Loyola who founded the Society of Jesus, the Jesuit order of priests.
The use of relics has some basis in Scripture.
In 2 Kings, the prophet Elisha used Elijah’s mantle to part the waters of the Jordan after Elijah had been taken to heaven in a whirlwind and elsewhere a dead man came back to life and rose to his feet when brought into contact with bones of Elisha.
In Acts, handkerchiefs which had touched Paul’s skin were applied to the sick, curing them of disease.
Reverence was given to the actual body or clothing of very holy people and miracles were connected to these relics.
In the 1990s, a cloth relic of Mary MacKillop was pinned to the clothes of Kathleen Evans, an ordinary Australian from Lake Macquarie, who was very sick with cancer and was given months to live.
She was subsequently completely cured.
This was the second miracle attributed to the intercession of Mary and led to her canonisation as St Mary of the Cross in 2010.
Catholics believe that while there is no magical power in a relic, God’s work can be done through the lives of holy people, inspiring others to draw closer to God through them.
Relics remind us of the holiness of the saints and their cooperation in God’s work.
At the same time, relics inspire us to ask a saint to pray to God for us for the grace to live the same kind of faith-filled life.
Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church will be housing some sacred relics
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