Christian Cyclopedia

About the Cyclopedia


(from Lat. reliquiae, “remains” [sc. of a martyr or other saint]). Ex 13:19; 2 K 2:13–14; 13:21; Acts 19:11–12 do not support any cult of relics.

In the 2d c. the remains of Polycarp* were honored. Veneration of relics spread under persecution. From the 4th c. the Lord's Supper was celebrated over martyrs' tombs in Roman catacombs.* Belief that relics are instruments of miracles developed gradually. The 787 Council of Nicaea* forbade consecration of chs. without relics. Council of Trent*: “The holy bodies of holy martyrs and of others living with Christ … are to be venerated by the faithful, through which [bodies] many benefits are bestowed by God on men” (Sess. XXV, “On the Invocation, Veneration, and Relics of Saints, and on Sacred Images”).

SA II ii 22–23: “Even if there were some good in them, relics should long since have been condemned. They are neither commanded nor commended. They are utterly unnecessary and useless. Worst of all, however, is the claim that relics effect indulgences and the forgiveness of sin and that, like the Mass, etc., their use is a good work and a service of God.”

See also Amulets; Frederick III (1463–1525); Holy Coat of Treves.

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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Content Reproduced with Permission

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