mysterious world of relics
Douglas Belkin, Palm Beach Religion Staff Writer
November 19, 1999
Internet "is like the Wild West," said Thomas Serafin, a Californian
author, collector and international expert on relics and reliquaries
(the often ornate cases that hold the relics.) "Anything goes."
Serafin is on a crusade to bring the sacredness back to an "industry"
that is increasingly pocked by skullduggery." If Internet sales
continue, eventually you'll have some nut cutting up chicken bones and
putting them up for sale."
the Middle Ages, as relics became more and more popular, pressure increased
for churches to have relics of high-profile saints on their premises,
Serafin said. Having a relic from a famous saint would bring people
from miles around to pray and tithe at the church. The process of authentication
starts about the same time the multi-step canonization process begins.
The body is exhumed and under supervision of the religious order to
which the venerated person belonged, pieces of bone, hair, even the
clothes the deceased was wearing and the burial coffin are removed.
Once taken, the pieces are placed in packages and closed with a wax
seal. If the seal is broken, it is very difficult to reauthenticate
a relic, Serafin said.