Relics. What's that about? I can understand second-class relics. In my parish we have a piece of the wooden cross worn by St Mary of the Cross MacKillop and I often stop and look at it. I feel a certain affinity with her because she was a teacher too, she struggled with many of the things I struggle with and she spent some time here in my parish area. When I see the relic, it helps me remember that she was a real person, not just some saintly, angelic being who was perfect.
But, at the recent canonisation of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII they had a vial of John Paul's blood and… a piece of John XXIII's skin. I'm sorry… the blood, OK, we've all seen a vial of blood, but a piece of skin? Isn't that a bit, well, yuck? Maybe the intention is the same as the piece of Mary MacKillop's cross – to remind us that these were merely men who accomplished great things. But who wants to see a piece of skin???
And how did they get these relics? The blood – did they take it from him when he was still alive and keep it in case they needed it in the future? Or did they take it from his dead body? And as for how they got the skin, I don't even want to contemplate that.
And what's the point, when we actually have both of their bodies at the Vatican? Surely we don't need relics if we have the body? Or will these be sent across the world to other countries? I remember when the relics of St Therese came to NZ – even that feels slightly different. Honouring someone's remains or ashes feels OK to me – but cutting off a piece of their skin? I don't know, that actually feels like dishonouring them.
Help me out readers, I just don't get it.