Holy relics

On Valentine’s Day 2009, Junebug and Gary (left) and the lovely Ning and Sam joined us for a special dinner.  And, as usual, “the gang”— our family through Why Catholic? at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff— had a fantabulous time!


Junebug’s prompting

That evening Junebug excitedly told us about visiting a chapel with the Legion of Mary.  She didn’t recall its name or much else other than having been (and still is) in awe of all the relics there.  “You just have to go see it!  It’s such a special place!” Junebug remarked, adding that she’d never known about relics until then.

“I know just what you mean!” I said.  “I didn’t know anything about relics until I received mine from Father Roderick.  And I treasured them until I gave them away.  Thanks so much for telling me about the chapel!  I’ll have to visit to take photos for my blog.”

Elusive treasure

Junebug’s exuberant insistence that I “visit the chapel out by the Lexington” stayed with me until May of last year.  That’s when, in driving around trying to locate it, I accidentally stumbled across the small, well-kept chapel on the corner of who knows where in the vicinity of the USS Lexington.

Yet, within moments my joy downgraded a couple of degrees.  Our Lady Star by the Sea was locked, and no one was at its adjacent office.

To further dampen my enthusiasm, I’d forgotten my Coolpix; so I had to rely on my antiquated cell phone to photograph the chapel’s exterior.  Not a good idea at all, I found out later, ’cause I couldn’t email the photos to my Yahoo account.

Still, things worked out fine.  I learned the name of the chapel and its location, so the visit wasn’t a total loss.

Now it’s just a matter of attending weekend Mass, Saturday at five-thirty or Sunday at nine, so I can finally see the relics that catapulted Junebug into OMG mode.

Shared keepsakes

Like Junebug, I’d never known about holy relics until— surprise, surprise— I received two third-class St. Anthony relics in the mail from Father Roderick, head of Franciscan Mission Associates (FMA) at the time.

A relic is an object or a personal item of religious significance, carefully preserved with an air of veneration as a tangible memorial….  A third-class relic is any object that is touched to a first- or second-class relic.  Most third-class relics are small pieces of cloth (Wikipedia, 2011).

“Relics refer to the body tissues of saints, items worn or used by them, and things that have come in contact with the originals” (Father James G. Ward, CM in the Association of the Miraculous Medal Bulletin, October 2010, p. 3).

The veneration of relics, most strictly the material remains of a saint or holy person after his death, has a long tradition in the Catholic Church….  St. Thomas Aquinas would explain that the relics “excite to love.”  It is really the saint who is being honored, and the relic assists the giving of that honor through both a visible sign and a physical link with the saint (St. Anthony Shrine, 2009).

I treasured my two St. Anthony relics but eventually gave them away to a couple of acquaintances whose life stories were filled with such despair that I thought the relics would give them hope.

By then Father Robert had become director of FMA, so I wrote him a letter requesting another relic and— wouldn’t you know it— he sent two that I carried with me, knowing I’d give them away as well.

St. Anthony chaplets

August, 2010, I gifted my two relics to Sabrina (left) and Ruth (right) with a note in the St. Anthony booklet that I created specially for them.

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Segy, our youngest, has always said, “The best gifts are those I want so very badly to keep but give away instead.”

In 1998, I wrote to Father Robert at Franciscan Mission Associates.

In 1985, Father Roderick sent me two St. Anthony relics.  But, over the years, as I met others in great need, I gave them away.  And now that I don’t have one, I feel empty.  So may I please have another relic?

And I was surprised, just as I’d been the first time, to receive not one but two.  But, even though I’ve treasured my two relics all this time, I’ve always wondered when the time would come that I’d have to part with them again as before.

Looking through my Companion Prayers booklet on July 22nd, I suddenly took note of the St. Anthony chaplet prayers and the Miraculous Responsory for the first time.  I’d added the latter to my “St. Anthony” post, but it just hadn’t registered till that moment.

I decided to customize a chaplet just right for me and attach not a regular medal, but the St. Anthony relic I’d carried around all these years.

Then I had an epiphany.

Since I had a second relic still in its original little bag I thought, Ruth and Sabrina!  I’ll bead three identical chaplets, place the relics on theirs, and use a different St. Anthony medal on mine.  I’ll write to Father Robert again and request another relic for my chaplet.  Hopefully, he’ll send two.

Sooo…  On Tuesday, July 23rd, I began using the chaplets.  I’ve taken turns with each one so that, when you pray on your own, you’ll know I’m praying with you, too.

Heart’s desire

FMA8410aI have to admit that it was very difficult to part with my last two
St. Anthony relics.  In fact, that’s what kept me from beading the chaplets sooner.  God knew how I felt, though.

Right when I was having serious qualms about giving them away, I received a perfectly timed relic prayer card in the mail from FMA.

In the days that followed I internalized what I’ve experienced before: God always knows and provides just what we need (Matthew 6:8).

Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him.  That is all the doing you have to worry about (St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

Holy relics

How amazing that, since finding Our Lady Star by the Sea and gifting my St. Anthony relics, I’ve become aware of other holy relics: St. Elizabeth Seton’s at Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches, Venerable Margaret Parigot’s on Sister’s prayer card from the Flower of Carmel Monastery in Australia, St. Peregrine’s through Father Ralph at Stella Maris in Lamar, and Venerable Julia Navarrete’s through Sister Maxie at the Missionary Daughters’ Solemn Place of Prayer in Kingsville.  Then, as a very special gift from the Anthonians in November, I received a seventy-five minute video commemorating the exhibition of St. Anthony’s remains at the Basilica in Padua, Italy.

So I have to wonder…

Has parting with my treasured St. Anthony relics helped me find more along the way?




May 13, 2011

Joyfully, I received Venerable Father Casey’s relic badge, which I showed Junebug at Michael’s Confirmation.  I’ll be ordering another to surprise her with, as I think it’ll make her day.


September 13, 2011

Wow!  How amazing is it to find right here on my computer desk exactly what I’ve wanted for months?  To think that I’ve had St. Jude’s relic for a very long time and didn’t even know it till this morning.

Will wonders never cease!

October 4, 2011

I just received a letter from Franciscan Mission Associates in time for All Souls Day.  Father Primo has replaced Father Robert, who served for the past fifteen years.  I guess it’s time to write that letter I’ve been putting off and wish Father Robert well on the next chapter in his book of life.


If you’d like to request a St. Anthony relic, contact Franciscan Mission Associates at P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

January 21, 2012

Steven and I drove to Stella Maris for the second time, and we arrived early enough to converse with Father Ralph before evening Mass.  I asked if he had his St. Peregrine first-class relic, and he did!  What a thrilling experience to hold it and pray for his intercession.


January 22, 2012

I went by Mary Ellen’s house to drop off both her St. Anthony relic chaplet and her Child Jesus chaplet, and she showed me the third-class relic she has of the nun who founded the Incarnate Word Order.  I didn’t have my camera with me, so I’ll take a photo another time.

April 8, 2012

I finally got the chance to take the photos of Mary Ellen’s third-class relic of Venerable Jeanne Chézard de Matel (1596-1670), foundress of the Incarnate Word (IWBS) Order.

Oh, happy day!


April 29, 2012

“Be careful what you wish for” certainly comes to mind, only in a good way this time.

On revisiting the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus at St. Pius V in Chicago, I discovered a treasure overlooked in the past.  St. Jude’s first-class relic!  His arm!


July 2, 2012

What unexpected surprises!  St. Teresa of Avila relics from Sister in Australia!


September 29, 2012

From Sister, timely St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus treasures received for October 1st!


January 13, 2013

Steven and I visited the Tepeyac Shrine in San Antonio for the second time and discovered that the Grotto Sanctuary has a first-class relic: Part of St. Eugene de Mazenod’s heart!

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February 10, 2013

??????????This morning Steven fell out as a Knight of Columbus participating in the veneration of José Sánchez del Río’s first-class relic at Immaculate Conception Church in Taft, TX.  Ten o’clock Mass was followed, first, by a procession around the neighborhood and then by visits to the front of the altar to spend one-on-one time in prayer with the relic.

Worth noting is that Joselito died eighty-five years ago today.

June 14-16, 2013

When Steven learned that Father Mario from the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy would be in Rockford, IL, he quickly made plans for us to attend Mass and the veneration of St. Anthony’s first-class relics at St. Anthony of Padua Church.  And we had a phenomenal time!

Father Mario captivated all of us with wonderful stories about St. Anthony and gifted many present with relics touched to St. Anthony’s tongue.  In the photo on the left, the reliquary in the forefront holds tissue from inside St. Anthony’s cheek; the one on the altar, part of his floating rib.

Before Father Mario retired for the evening, he did something totally unexpected: He blessed Steven and me with the small reliquary!

We were so taken with Father Mario that I wanted to bring him home with us, but he has places to go and people to see.  Building community within God’s kingdom is what traveling with St. Anthony is all about, so they’re off to Great Britain next.

SAP61413s-56        StA73113b        StA73113a

The following morning, despite the pounding rain and the heavy traffic, we made our way back to Chicago where we not only spent time at the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude at St. Pius V (like last year), but also visited the Claretian National Shrine of St. Jude at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

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Then we drove to Detroit where we attended nine o’clock Mass at St. Bonaventure Church on Sunday and delighted in the Solanus Casey Center the entire day.

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What an extraordinary experience!

July 1, 2013

Oh, happy day!  St. Pio’s relic!  Thank you, Sister dearest!

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November 21, 2013

Surprise, surprise!  In today’s mail, I received a treasure trove from our niece.

Found this [tiny, old envelope].  Thought of you.  Not sure what it is, but you will know.  Love you.  Sue

Um, yes!  Not one, but two relic badges of then Servant of God, now Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos who needs only one more step to reach sainthood.

After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned.  However, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief. In September of that year, exhausted from visiting and caring for victims of yellow fever, he contracted the disease.  After several weeks, he died on October 4, 1867, at the age of forty-eight years and nine months (Wikipedia, 2013).

FXS112113-2a        FXS112113-2b

March 28, 2014

Hip hip hooray!  An unexpected St. Anthony relic from the Anthonians!

Anth32814a        Anth32814b

April 18, 2014

Thanks to Diana at Franciscan Mission Associates for expeditiously sending me not just the lovely relic for Sid’s St. Anthony chaplet, but also the prayer card!  Sidney Davis, whom we met at the Solanus Casey Center last week, loved his priceless treasures!

FMA-H62a        FMA-H62b        FMA41814a        FMA41814b

May 24, 2014

Thanks to Father Thomas Franks, OFM-Cap for St. Pio’s precious relic!  The Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina is located at the Church of St. John the Baptist in New York City.  (The address is on “Credits” page.) 

SJB52414-2a        SJB52414-1b        SJB52414-2b

October 11, 2014

Thanks again, Father Tom, for the wonderful relic cards from St. Pio’s shrine!

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November 9, 2015

“For even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ, whether by his sacraments or by the prayers or relics of his saints” (St. Augustine).

Links of interest…  Legion of Mary…  Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish: diocese page / parishes online…  Relics: about (chapelmore – why we venerate them) / altar of (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton) / badge (Venerable Solanus Casey) / feast (more) / first-class / four categories / holy / how to venerateincorruptibles (how can a corpse be incorruptible – saints) / more than I thought I’d ever know (blog post) / of the past & the present / priest martyrs of Mexico / process of beatification & canonization / remains / sacred artifacts / saints / what is…  St. Anthony: basilica (virtual tour) / bones a guide to the living / relics (on display in Padua)…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / website…  Why Catholic

WP posts…  St. Anthony of Padua: Saint of miracles / Si quaeris miracula…  St. Eugene de Mazenod: Heart of hearts / Memory lane…  St. Elizabeth Seton: Right at home…  St. José Sánchez del Río: Honoring Joselito…  St. Jude: Forever grateful / October novenaSt. Anthony Claret / St. Jude novena…  St. Peregrine: Healing service / Memorable as ever / Powerful intercessor / Prayers and blessings / Saintly connections / Stella Maris / St. Peregrine relic…  St. Teresa of Avila: Gift of love / Seven dwelling places…  St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: Budding relationships…  Venerable Father Casey: Capuchin church stations / God’s master plan / Mercy and justice / Solano, Solanus, Solani / St. Bonaventure Church…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Venerable Julia Navarrete (of the thorns of the Sacred Heart)…  Venerable Margaret (of the Blessed Sacrament)…  What I learned by caring for holy relics

Right at home


You know what it is— don’t you— to be so smitten with a person, place, or thing that you just have to take a second look?  Then, when you do, it’s so not what you thought or felt about that person, place, or thing— which prompts you ask, What the heck caught my eye in the first place? 


After our first trip to Nacogdoches we couldn’t stop thinking or talking about it, so two weekends ago we went back to find out if it still tugged at our heartstrings.

Oh, what a revelation!

Nacogdoches was just as wonderful the second time around.  In fact, more like an extension of the first visit since we picked right up where we’d left off.

It was like finally reading the sequel to a much-loved novel, which, for me, meant finding and buying Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet (Cameron, 1956) after having read The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet (the first in a five-book series; 1954) thirty-four years earlier!  Truly momentous, savored through and through, filling but still with a yen for more.

Another memorable experience

And that was Nacogdoches our second time around.  Simply grand.

Steven indulged us with a two-night stay at the historic Hotel Fredonia downtown, so we could be close to everything.  Although, really?  Anywhere in Nacogdoches is close to everything else. 

Friday evening we treated ourselves to some authentic Mexican food at La Carreta where the flavors and the textures appealed to my taste buds’ recollections of mom’s flour tortillas and food in South Texas.

Saturday, we spread ourselves more thinly than usual; but we were returning home mid-morning Sunday, so what choice did we have but to make the most of our visit?

Farmer’s market

We started at the “hitch lot” on West Main and Pearl streets.

Oh, the sights, sounds, and items to buy! 

Hmm, hmm, hmm.   Fresh fruits, vegetables, preserves, cheeses, and all sorts of delectable goodies were on display, as well as handcrafted items.  We bought two sets of knitted potholders from a retired nurse and two pairs of beaded earrings from Mamie, who gave Steven her calling card, which, like the others we got there, had not email addresses, but telephone numbers only.  Quite different from life elsewhere, personal, simplified. 



Everywhere we turned vendors were smiling.  Some shared samples with buyers and browsers alike, all hoping to sell their wares.  We felt right at home especially among those who readily engaged in conversation.

Steven chatted with a psychologist who sells handcrafted furniture that benefits patients at the state hospital.  Interestingly, the man has lived without electricity for the past
thirty-five years.  And this, he said with a chuckle, is why it took him a good, long while to find the right woman to share his rustic life.


In the meantime I listened off and on to the conversations around me, took photos, and observed from where I stood next to a woman selling plants and vegetables from her pickup truck.

NTX61910-54The woman was all smiles but seemed a bit uncomfortable.  She repositioned her stance every little while and used her cane as often, but she was very cheerful nonetheless.

A man stopped by, asked a question, commented on the woman’s response, and then moved on.  He’d bought from her before but didn’t find what he wanted this time around.

When Steven finished his conversation with the doctor, he joined me in talking to the woman, Fran, who was so friendly that I wished we could be there every Saturday.  She asked if we were new to the market, so we introduced ourselves and took turns talking as we nibbled on two freshly picked cherry tomatoes Fran hadn’t thought twice about giving us.

Fran vividly described how she’d gotten her ankle crushed.  Her husband had asked for help in moving the hogs to another pen when the largest one pushed hard against her, pinning her foot against the fence.  Ye-ouch!  She’d convalesced for several weeks, so that morning was her first time back at the market despite her swollen ankle.

We really enjoyed Fran’s company but had to be elsewhere in ten minutes.  We agreed to meet up again one day soon and headed to the vehicle just as the folk singer started his melodious, melancholy song.  What a voice!


When we’d arrived the man had been setting up chairs in front of his canopied area, and only now had he gotten to the singing part.  I so wanted to stay and listen to the rest of the song at least; but the sooner we took care of business the sooner we could return to Peking for lunch— our third time there— for its mouth-watering special of the day, its peaceful ambiance, and its impeccable service.


On returning to the Fredonia mid-afternoon a young man eating his lunch on a couch in the lobby told me about the Sterne-Hoya House as Steven took photos.  He suggested that we might want to visit as he had earlier.  The young man was so nice that he instantaneously pulled up the museum’s website on his laptop to pique my interest further, and the hotel clerk handed me some pamphlets and a map in case their directions weren’t helpful.


I thanked them both and looked for Steven, who’d plopped down on a different sofa by then.  He looked really beat, but I shared the information with him anyway.  NTX61910-360Then,
pushing exhaustion aside for the time being, we rushed off to the museum before it closed at four.

What an experience! 

Marissa, our guide, a history major at Stephen F. Austin, peppered her talk with fascinating facts on both the Sterne and Hoya families; but I was most impressed with her effervescent personality.  She not only captured our attention, but also fed our inquiring minds with tantalizing tidbits that left us wanting to take her tour at the Durst-Taylor house, the second oldest structure in Nacogdoches, when we’re back in town.

Right at home

From there we drove to church for five o’clock Mass.  We sat in the same place as before.  On the right up close to the front for the best effect.



Of course, knowing that Bishop Carmody had dedicated Sacred Heart in 1992— just
as he had St. Joseph Church, our home parish, in 2009— made us feel right at home.  Moreover, that Bishop Carmody married us makes anything connected to him a heartfelt remembrance.

SHC61910-404After Mass we made our way to the beautiful chapel on the other side of the glass wall behind the altar.  Our first time there I’d taken photos of St. Elizabeth Seton’s stained glass window but hadn’t gotten a closeup of the relic with its accompanying certificate of authenticity at the bottom.

Before long a woman entered and engaged Steven in conversation as I took photos.  As we talked about the church and my blog, a second woman with a terrific sense of humor joined us and teasingly asked what we’d been told, as if casting doubt on her friend’s veracity.

We all introduced ourselves and continued talking as we made our way back into the church.  Mary, the first woman we met, works with the musicians; and Margo, the zany, witty one, gave us a mini tour focused on the beautiful stained glass windows.

Margo also showed us Jennifer’s window.  The girl, just sixteen when she died unexpectedly, was the younger sister of the town’s famous World Cup soccer player, Clint Dempsey.  Her death was a terrible loss to both the family and the community.

“Yes.  We read about Dempsey in The Daily Sentinel yesterday,” I said.  “We also read about him on Yahoo a few days ago.”

Conversing with Mary and Margo was truly special.  We felt genuinely welcomed in their presence, which built on our first visit to Sacred Heart.

That time we’d met the deacon who helped us find our way to the chapel, but we’d missed out on seeing how folks interact with one another after Mass.

This time we observed how Father builds community.  He cares about his parishioners and relates to them lightheartedly.  During Mass he said that all men, married or single, would be given a Father’s Day memento.  Then he told us about his beloved uncles before asking the oldest fathers to rise for recognition as he handed them the mementos personally.  After Mass Father spent time talking with folks as they left, while small groups lingered here and there to chat a bit before departing.

As for Steven and me?  Mary and Margo made it a point to learn about us, why we were there, and encouraged our participation in the future.  They also introduced us to Father, who’d been locking and unlocking the front door as folks exited.

Then after Steven shared what all he does at St. Joseph’s, Father turned to me.

“And what do you do?” he asked point-blank.

“I maintain the blog I created for our church.”

Father looked at the others, tilted his head ever so slightly, and made a strange face before moving aside for us to leave.


Moreover, we’re delighted to have
established a meaningful connection to Sacred Heart Church in just two visits.

J. McKinney’s

Finally, we topped our time in Nacogdoches with dinner at the Hotel Fredonia where we met a Stephen F. Austin junior waitressing her way through a fashion marketing degree.

Denise’s effusive personality coupled with her gracious hospitality made us feel very much at home at J. McKinney’s that evening.

What a delightful time!

January 4, 2015

How consoling, how sweet the presence of Jesus to the longing, harassed soul!  It is instant peace and balm to every wound (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).

January 4, 2016

The accidents of life separate us from our dearest friends, but let us not despair.  God is like a looking glass in which souls see each other.  The more we are united to him by love, the nearer we are to those who belong to him (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).

January 4, 2019

O Jesus, sure joy of my soul, give me but a true love of you.  Let me seek you as my only good (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton).

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Photo files…  Farmer’s market: one / two…  Hotel: one / two…  Museum: one / two / three / four…  SHC chapel

Links of interest…  Eleanor Cameron: about / award / books / stowaway / wonderful flight…  Daily Sentinel…  Clint Dempsey…  Farmer’s market: blog / local harvest / reviews / rules & regulations…  Historic: landmarks / people, places, events / sites department…  Hotel Fredonia…  Nacogdoches: chamber of commercethings to do / visitors bureau / website…  Restaurants: La Carreta / Peking…  Sacred Heart Church: facebook / map / multicultural festival / parish / website…  Servant of God Simon Bruté…  St. Elizabeth Seton: biography / devotional area / national shrine / prayer / relic / saint / upwards perspective

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Beautiful sacred space…  Heart of hearts…  Holy relics…  Home again…  A real church…  Sacred Heart (Nacogdoches)…  Sacred Heart Church (Corpus Christi, TX)…  Saturday evening Mass