Monday, November 5, 2007

The Feast of the Holy Relics

I had never heard of this feast day until Barb mentioned it this morning. That lady is better than caffeine when it comes to blowing the dust off and getting the gears turning. I remembered that we have a few relic cards courtesy of our favorite Salesian priest. I found them in a trunk he left with my grandparents that they had hidden away in their old barn. By the time I discovered it, it was falling apart (the barn and the trunk) and was filled with evidence of little critters, but the relic cards and a few other personal effects were spared. These cards, along with my favorite rosary, and the cruets and chalice that Fr. Blaise used to say Mass when he was "on the run" are just some of the precious gifts my grandparents gave me. For more information about the saints on the cards above you can visit these links:

Sts. Luigi Versiglia and Don Callisto Caravario
St. Dominic Savio (notice on the card he is called Beati or Blessed Dominic Savio. This card was made sometime between 1950 and 1954.)
Blessed Michael Rua

Barb asked in the comments if we knew what the relics were. Here is what we know based on the information on the cards themselves. Saint Luigi and Callisto were martyred in China. Their relics look like fabric of some kind so I am assuming they are pieces of clothing. Blessed Michael Rua's relic also seems to be fabric. St. Dominic Savio's card says "EX CAPSA SEPULCRALI" which means to the best of my understanding "from the tomb". The relic is a collection of tiny brown fragments. On the back of his card is a hand written prayer in Latin. That is all we know. Here is a picture of the back sides of the cards. Any Latin or Italian scholars who want to try their hand at a translation are welcome! Please let me know what you figure out.
(click to enlarge)


  1. Wow! Those are really precious. And just think how happy those Saints and that Blessed will be to hear from you today! I'm happy I prompted you to pull them out -- they needed air and a little conversation. Do the cards say what the relic is?

  2. I added a little more to the post to answer your question. We don't know for sure. We can only guess. I would love to have the writing on the back translated. Maybe it will give us more information.

    I keep these cards in the very old Lives of the Saints book you see in the picture. I need to find a way to protect them better. I thought about those displays they use for baseball cards. Would that be disrespectful?

  3. These are definitely precious! We have a first class relic of St. John Berchmans (One of the patron saints of altar boys, like St. Dominic Savio!) that I'm puzzling with how to display for proper veneration, too. I thought maybe a professionally sealed shadow box with the relic and a nice print of the saint and a prayer arranged artfully would be neat... Someday...

  4. Hi Matilda and everyone commenting!
    I'd recommend that you go to a specialist scrapbooking shop and ask for your options on preserving your sacred items in the correct way. You need an airtight and watertight, acid-free environment.

    Some scrapbook shops have metal tins with a clear window on top. If they have a shallow one that allows you to see clearly, that could be one way to do it.

    They also have acid-free clear pockets of various sizes.

    Another way might be to put them into an acid-free photo frame which you can then display in a sacred space at home.

    Be careful of storing them in high acid or high alkaline methods which will destroy the pictures over time.

    Sydney, Australia

  5. The back of the card reads: Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, sancta Dei Genetrix - Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris. - sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta, - Domina nostra Mediatrix nostra Advocata nostra! - Tuo filio nos reconcilia, tuo filio nos commenda,
    tuo filio nos repraesenta!

    This is the Sub tuum praesidium, an ancient hymn to our Lady. The latter half I find included as part of it in some sources, but not as part in others, so I cannot confirm from where it comes.

    For the first half (up to "et benedicta"), Wikipedia provides this translation: Under thy protection we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our needs, but from all dangers deliver us always, Virgin Glorious and Blessed.

    For the second half, this is my translation (based on a translation I found elsewhere): Our Lady, our Mediator, our Advocate! Reconcile us to Thy Son, command us to Thy Son, present us to Thy Son!

  6. I just noticed that I made a typo in my translation. Instead of reading, "command us to Thy Son", it should read, "commend us to Thy Son." Sorry about that!

    Also, an alternate translation of the latter part might read, "To Thy Son, reconcile us! To Thy Son, commend us! To Thy Son, present us!" This more closely parallels the Latin's word order, but I think that my original translation holds closer to its flow and meaning. Just thought I'd put this out there, in case someone finds it useful.

    In Christo Rege,


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!