When people think of March, St. Patrick’s Day often comes to mind—along with leprechauns and pots of gold! But, hopefully, as Catholics, we think about the devout man who shared about the Blessed Trinity with the people of Ireland.
Two years ago, CatholicTeenBooks published our Treasures: Visible & Invisible anthology. This short story collection begins with a fictional story about St. Patrick and an item he touches. This relic appears in each of the subsequent stories; it is passed through the centuries from one person to the next, blessing people, deepening their faith, and leading them to Christ. This anthology took a bit more planning as each author chose a time period to write about, but it was such a special project to work on.
In case you are unfamiliar with relics, as I had been for a very long time, they are sacred objects that have a direct association with a saint or with Jesus. They are categorized into three classes. First Class relics are the physical remains of a saint, including pieces of bone or hair, or items directly associated with the life of Christ, like the manger and cross. Second Class relics are items touched by a saint, also known as “contact relics.” And Third Class relics refer to items that have come into contact with a first- or second-class relic. Many miracles have been associated with relics, as God mysteriously works through his faithful servants.
"...they sent round to all that region and brought to [Jesus] all that were sick, and besought him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well." ~Matt 14:35-36
As I grew in my faith, I learned more about the saints and relics. And a few years ago, I had my own experience with these incredible tenets of our faith. I read an ad for a Vatican-sponsored traveling relic event in the church bulletin. Not only was I excited to see the hundreds of relics that would be displayed at the nearby church, but it seemed like the perfect evening out for my husband and me because it was taking place at the church where we had been married—on our anniversary.
That evening, before the crowd was able to look at all the relics, the priest told us that sometimes a particular saint might call to us, so we should be open to meeting a new saintly friend. Walking around looking at all the displayed items, I was drawn to a saint I had never heard of before: St. Gemma. I didn’t know if I was really “called” to her or was just touched by her sweet, youthful face.
After seeking out our favorite saints, we decided, since it was our anniversary, we should touch our wedding rings to a relic, making them third-class relics. We weren’t sure which saint we should choose, but our son, who knows much more about saints than we do, suggested Louis and Zelie Martin. This amazing couple are the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux and were the first spouses to be canonized together. This holy couple seemed like the perfect choice. Immediately after the event, I ordered books about these new saints to learn more about them. However, it wasn’t until a month later that I realized how God was truly guiding me that night.
The same touring event eventually made its way to the neighboring state where my daughter lives. After she and her husband attended, I asked about their experience, and she shared that she also had been drawn to a certain saint: Saint Gemma! How amazing that she and I now have a special relationship with the same faithful servant!
Soon after, I finally picked up the book about Louis and Zelie Martin. I was shocked to discover that they shared the same anniversary as my husband and me—the very date that we became acquainted with them! I’m very thankful for God leading me to my new saintly friends, who I can ask to pray for me as I follow in their footsteps, growing closer to our Lord.
Relics and saints are a unique and beautiful part of our Catholic faith. CatholicTeenBooks has several books that can help you learn more about relics and discover a few new saintly friends. Besides Treasures: Visible & Invisible, Theresa Linden’s book Roland West, Loner features a unique relic. We also offer numerous books about saints by authors Corinna Turner, Susan Peek, and Katy Huth Jones.
This Lent, why not deepen your faith as you learn more about relics and discover a new saintly friend.