J.R.R. Tolkien's cover design and signature.
Film director Peter Jackson (of Lord of the Rings
fame), plans to start filming "The Hobbit"
tomorrow, featuring an all-star cast, including
a reappearance of Elijah Wood as Frodo.
|Wheaton College's Wade Center|
|There's talk of yet another Narnia movie|
in the works, adapted from C.S. Lewis's
book "The Magician's Nephew."
Tolkien's little eight-drawer student desk. I imagined the aging Catholic author, who looked like a Hobbit himself, dipping his quill pen to create his epic personification of good versus evil.
I gently swung the elaborately carved wardrobe door (we're allowed!) and knew C.S. Lewis had touched the same weathered panels. I felt goose-bumpy awe being in such close proximity to objects used daily by these visionaries. (Click on this link for images of desk and wardrobe:
|My great-great grandmother's Pennsylvania |
Perhaps it's no surprise, in a world where we frame photos of loved ones, scrapbook memories, and pay memberships to historical museums, that the Church has always cherished its relics.
|St. Therese of |
We have proof of Christians venerating relics back to the 2nd Century.
Relics come in all shapes and sizes:
* Saint Helena found the True Cross, venerated today in Rome's Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme.
* Many say Veronica's veil is housed in a tiny Capuchin church in the Abruzzi Mountains, three hours' drive from Rome. This "Shroud of Manoppello" is made of byssus, or "sea silk," an ancient cobwebby material on which no image could be painted -- and yet, Christ's face is clearly discernible.
* Thought to be the burial cloth of Jesus, the Shroud of Turin, has been held since the 16th Century in St. John the Baptist Chapel in Turin, Italy. Scientists studying the cloth have converted to faith. Its next public viewing is scheduled for the year 2025.
This old postcard from the
spectacular shrine of St. Anne
de Beaupre shows one of three
major relics of the Blessed
We're tactile people and some things are worth saving. In Assisi, Italy, I saw the actual silver-threaded gown St. Clare wore when she forsook her noblewoman's life for the Church. Her lavish golden curls were still preserved nearly 800 years after they were shorn. Through these and other artifacts, the impetuous young woman who clung with supernatural strength to an altar railing when her father tried to drag her away from her vocation, leapt into life for me. Like a family preserving a prized baptismal or wedding gown, is the Church cherishing its saints' relics.
I know many people who have been deeply touched by relics. A friend just wrote me from Arizona telling how she saw two thorns from Jesus' Crown of Thorns in Rome at the Basilica di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. "When in Rome, go there!" she urged. On March 24, 2011, the Daily Mail Reporter released the news that another thorn from Jesus' Crown, once kept by Mary Queen of Scots, is going on display at the British Museum in London in an exhibit called "Treasures of Heaven."
Contemporary people need relics, I'm convinced! I've had innumerable brushes with these blessed objects, leaving me more convicted about my faith every time. For example, abundant St. Therese of Liseux artifacts housed in The National Shrine of St. Therese in Darien, Illinois, have drawn me to a deeper feeling of connection with this saint. I helped run a Catholic Little Flowers Girls Club for nine years, and learned to love St. Therese, patroness of the club. My children and I enjoyed repeat visits to the Darien shrine, since it includes St. Therese's chair and playthings, plus her hand-drawn maps, and innumerable other items from her daily life .
The National Shrine of St. Therese in Darien, IL, offers the largest collection of this saint's relics outside of Lisieux, France. A rare oil painting of Therese, sacred vessels and a velvet tablecloth this saint handled during her time as sacristan are on loan from France through October of 2011.
At times, the gloves of Padre Pio have circulated through area churches attended by mysterious heavenly scents and miraculous healings. My husband and I experienced a profound prayer experience when the gloves of this Italian mystic visited Assumption Church in Ashkum, south of Kankakee, about a dozen years ago.
Canada's breathtaking shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre.
Incorrupt body of Saint John Vianney
(1786-1859), entombed above the main
altar in the basilica at Ars, France.
Photo by Herwig Reidlinger
We attended St. John Cantius
Church in Chicago for five years.
One of the best samples of sacred
architecture in the city, the
100-plus year old church is
chock full of sacred art and
Father William de Salvo of Saint Isaac Jogues Church in Hinsdale, Illinois, once associate pastor of my current parish, is known for bringing his vast relics collection with him to his various parish assignments. They make appearances on feast days, adding to the solemnity of the occasion.
Finally, when covering a story about Catholic Extension Society's 1991 Lumen Christi Winner Agnes Ryan, the inspiring friend to missionaries and Milwaukee resident gave me a first-class relic of one of the Seven Blessed Martyrs of Thailand. The bone shard of 23-year-old Sister Lucia Khambang, killed by police December of 1940 for defending her faith, is mounted under a gold seal and signed by Archbishop Lawrence Khai of the Thare-Nongseng Archdiocese. Pope John Paul II named the seven martyrs "Blessed" the same month and year my husband and I married -- October of 1989.