The relics of Christian saints and blesseds deserve special care and their authenticity must be certified by the Church, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has said.
“Relics in the Church have always received particular veneration and attention, because the bodies of saints and blesseds, destined for resurrection, were on earth the living temple of the Holy Spirit and the instruments of their sanctity, recognized by the apostolic see through beatification and canonization,” said the Dec. 16 instruction from the congregation.
The instruction was sent to Catholic bishops, eparchs, and those who take part in procedures related to relics of saints, blesseds and those declared venerable and servants of God, Vatican News reports.
It contains 38 separate items. Among its directives: relics of saints and blesseds that lack a certificate from church authority cannot be exposed for the veneration of the faithful.
Current canonical practice of verifying the authenticity of relics and mortal remains of saints and blesseds remains in place to guarantee that these relics and remains are preserved and venerated. Among other topics, the instruction outlines how to obtain the consent of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints for the canonical recognition of relics and the procedure to follow for relics that are taken on pilgrimage.
The new document replaces the appendix to the 2007 instruction “Sanctorum Mater,” also issued by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.