Local event explores the healing power of relics

COURTNEY HAYDEN/Sun-Gazette Kimberly Novalis, left, and Alicia Andrews, right, look and pray at the “Exposition of Sacred Relics,” a traveling healing ministry, at St. Joseph the Worker Parish.

More than 160 sacred relics, some possibly 2,000 years old, were at St. Joseph the Worker Parish recently for the “Exposition of Sacred Relics,” a teaching and explanation about reliquaries.

Father Carlos Martins, director of Treasures of the Church, spoke to a full house about the relics.

“A relic is anything that belonged to a saint and, in the church, we typically divide them into three classes. First-class relic is … any part of the body,” said Martins. A “second-class relic is anything that belonged to a saint or any fragment of theirs, of clothing or so forth, and a third-class is anything that has been touched to a first-, second- or even another third-class relic.”

Most of the reliquaries are first-class relics, such as the bone fragments of the apostles, which are over 2,000 years old. The Treasures of the Church makes saints more accessible through a closer intimacy than normal, as people can experience God in a different way, he said.

Relics have been a part of the Catholic faith from the beginning and are spoken about in scripture. In Matthew, a woman with a hemorrhage touched the hem of Christ’s clothing and was healed, Martins said. Mark elaborated on this topic by saying whoever touches His clothing receives healing.

Healing is not a magical power, but from God, Martins said. Whenever scripture mentions relics, two things occur — a healing and a touch.

“There is always a healing, and touch is the way that healing comes about,” Martins said. “I’ve seen a great many hundreds of healings — cancers disappear, osteoporosis, stroke effects, one man was healed of lifelong paralysis.”

Some relics on display were of St. Joseph, St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Francis of Assisi. Two of the most popular relics were a piece of Mary Mother of Jesus’ veil and the wood of the cross that Jesus died on.

People come seeking the blessings from the saints. Martins taught about the heroes of the Catholic faith, how they know the objects are what they say they are and how to venerate.

Patrons could reflect on the relics by answering a questionnaire that could be sent in to Martins, answering questions such as “How did it affect you?” “Which saint seemed to draw you in?” and “Did you experience a healing?”

The Treasures of the Church is not a traveling museum. It is a healing ministry, and people come in great numbers.

“My job is to bring people into a place where they are ready to experience God,” Martins said. “Some people have no faith at all, some are atheist, some are life-long devotees, some don’t know

why they are coming but they saw an ad and they got curious.”

Martins has been traveling and teaching people about relics, saints and venerating for 21 years throughout the country, dioceses and churches, he said. The Scranton dioceses had requested the Treasures of the Church to visit its parishes. The Treasures of the Church is traveling throughout Pennsylvania and each of the state’s dioceses. On this tour, it will also be going out to the Midwest and to Texas.

For more information about relics or Treasures of the Church, visit www.TreasuresOfTheChurch.com.