Visiting the faithful with a traveling collection of relics for the purpose
of spiritual talks and public veneration is not a new idea. The practice
of transporting the remains of the saints for veneration and exhibit began
in the 11th century. Religious and secular traveled the countryside and
told stories of the lives of the saints. The intention was to hopefully
impress and inspire the faithful by the tales of virtue and sacrifice.
As the remains of our spiritual ancestors transversed Europe so did their
reputation and legend. Their spirituality has been our inheritance and
their steadfast devotion, unwavering discipline, and supreme austerities
became a model for many of today's modern religious lifestyles. Early
monasteries and strict rules of life may be credited as among the greatest
contributions to the cultivation of modern society.
In every civilization throughout history, there have always been heroes,
exemplars for us to follow and emulate. The saints throughout Europe and
the New World brought order to chaos, strength, and hope to the common
person, council to the wise and prominent, as well as opportunity for
salvation. The bones of the Saints bring with them our past, reassure
us in the present, and give us hope of a future.
The guardians who possessed the Holy in the form of relics were able to
show gratitude by sharing these sacred and Holy remains with others. The
faithful often could not visit the shrines throughout the world that were
frequently visited by the locals and the privileged. The traveling exhibit
brought the saints to the faithful. The stories of the saints, allowed
the faithful to become aware of the commonality to their lives, the struggles
The veneration of relics realizes no boundaries; it simply validates the
heroic virtues of individuals not recognizing race, nation, or whether
rich or poor. The remains of the saints are more than merely fascinating
mementoes; they are pieces of a road map to Heaven itself. They make us
aware that the saints who now await us in Heaven where; actually at one
time people like us, who suffered, struggled, and carried their own crosses.
The key to their success was faith and Holy perseverance. Not all of us
are called to be religious and lead a life of prayer, obedience, and poverty.
Likewise, we are not meant to become martyrs for our faith as seen in
the early Church. However, we are expected (at least hopefully) to persevere.
This Holy Perseverance comes from Christ, through his Blessed Mother and
the Communion of Saints. Like us, they studied and followed the examples
of their predecessors. They read the lives of the saints; they traveled
to the shrines, and venerated relics. What the ICHRusa does is to bring
this Heavenly Jerusalem to you.
When you venerate a relic you are truly in the
presence of a sacred remain that God has chosen to gift us with; a reminder
of a life to come, and the present state of life that we live within.
We can study the struggles and trials of the saints and emulate them in
our own daily lives. We can read about the faith conversions and life
styles changes and gain strength from them, knowing that we too are capable
if we respond to the will of God. We can share in the same gratitude for
prayers heard and answered that filled the lives of the saints. There
is a reassuring spiritual significance when an individual has had his/her
petition realized. A "maybe there really is a God" and "He
really does love me" feeling.
The presence of the saints makes an individual’s perseverance and
quest for the Heavenly Jerusalem a reality. Accounts of conversions, healings,
and miracles were commonplace in the history of the translation of the
relics of St. Marcellinus and St. Peter. In the United States, shrines
that house relics are few, and Churches no longer have relics available
for public veneration or feast days. The ICHRusa is filling this void.
In 1993, Thomas Serafin created Saints Alive, the first website on the
worldwide web devoted to the preservation / veneration of first and second-class
religious relics and the education of the faithful.
Because of the great interest throughout the United States and Europe,
it was believed to be beneficial and appropriate to establish an international
movement for the propagation of the preservation and veneration of relics.
The commonality of the organization was to be centered on the desire expressed
by the faithful, to have a central source of educational information and
a governing official office. This was the beginning of the International
Crusade for Holy Relics (ICHRusa).
In 1998, the ICHRusa started battling the sale of relics on the Internet.
Being a pioneer in the safeguarding of the historical remains of the saints,
the ICHRusa has been directly responsible for combating the abuse through
the use of the media, reeducating relic sellers and buyers, and helping
the Internet ISP’s reevaluate their practices.
During an exhibit of relics from his private collection at the Forest
Lawn Memorial Park Museum in Glendale, California (November - January
2002), a number of individuals offered financial and professional assistance
in support of efforts to exhibit, promote, and preserve the collection.
Desiring to take full advantage of these offers of assistance, Mr. Serafin
developed the concept of a non-profit organization, the Apostolate for
Holy Relics, which would utilize his private collection, along with the
talents and resources of many individuals, to increase appreciation of
the spiritual, historical, and artistic value of relics, to promote the
devotional veneration of relics, and to help preserve and safeguard relics
for future generations.
As a answer to a need in the Catholic communities the ICHRusa has been
reorganized to address the issue of the education of primary and secondary
school and the faithful and curious alike. It is our goal to return the
remains of our Christian saints to the lofty station they so rightly deserve.
We have combined a vast relic treasury and a desire to connect Heaven
to Earth through education and veneration. This historic endeavor is the
first time in history that a traveling exhibit of religious relics and
catechism program has been assembled for the glory of God, the Communion
of Saints, and the faithful.