By Pamela Seal
Diocese of Lake Charles
What better way to celebrate the Feast of All Saints than surrounded by the presence of holy men and women who walked this earth before us.
Despite the rainy weather, a steady flow of people welcomed the opportunity to visit a collection of Sacred Relics hosted by Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Lake Charles on All Saints Day.
Relics directly related to Jesus and Mary — the Crown of Thorns, Table of the Last Supper, Wood of the True Cross, Crib of the Baby Jesus, and the Veil of the Blessed Virgin Mary — were among 70 holy relics on display in the church between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 1.
Visitors traveled from as far as Johnson Bayou to honor a multitude of Saints and be honored by their holy and venerable presence.
Father Rommel Tolentino, Pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, first started offering the exhibit of relics when he served as Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic Church in Hackberry and Our Lady of the Assumption Mission Chapel in Johnson Bayou.
“Creative posters designed by Catechism students from Hackberry and Johnson Bayou are used to explain a brief history about each Saint represented,” Tolentino said.
Tables surrounding the sanctuary at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish were filled with relics including Saints like St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Peter the Apostle, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, St. John the Baptist, and St. Teresa of Avila, to name a few.
Father Tolentino said it is important for people to venerate relics, especially on All Saints Day, because it makes the Feast of All Saints tangible.
“We are reminded that Saints are real people who lived in a particular period of history, and coming from a diverse background — different countries, continents, culture, ethnicities, color, age, gender, vocation (priests, religious, single and married laity), civil and economic status,” Tolentino said. “They remind us of our own calling to be Saints, and if they have done it by cooperating with God’s grace, we can do it, too.”
Father Tolentino added, “The Saints serve as inspiration and models, besides being our friends and intercessors.”
As visitors walked from one reliquary to the next, “The Litany of the Saints” played in the background (Gregorian chant in Latin) adding a prayerful ambience to the showcase of relics that took several hours to arrange the morning of the event.
“The exhibit takes about three hours to set up,” said Father Tolentino. “After the tables were in place, several ladies helped with tablecloths, arranged and lit all the candles, and coordinated the posters next to each reliquary. The evening before the exhibit, I also had some assistance setting up the relics.”
The word relic comes from the Latin relinquo, literally meaning “I leave,” or “I abandon.” Relics, kept secure in containers called reliquaries, are classified as either first class, second class, or third class.
A first-class relic is a piece of the body of a Saint, either a piece of bone or hair, blood, or flesh. A second-class relic is a possession of a Saint — items owned or used by the Saint, often a piece of the Saint’s clothing. A third-class relic is an object, new or old, which has been touched to the tomb or reliquary of a Saint, or items touched to a first-class relic.
Venerating the Sacred Relics gave each person the opportunity for a more physical encounter, rather than simply spiritual, by being able to touch each reliquary. Many people brought rosaries, prayer cards, or medals to place in contact with the relics, making those items third-class relics.
Father Tolentino said those visiting felt peace and consolation in the presence of the relics.
“Many of them prayed for loved ones who are suffering at home. Some said that the posters made a huge difference because they provided information on the Saint and a prayer to ask for that Saint’s intercession,” said Father Tolentino. “Many people thanked me for the exhibit and the opportunity to venerate the relics.”
Other relics of Saints on display included:
- St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist
- St. Jacinta Marto and St. Francisco Marto, children of Fatima
- St. John Marie Vianney
- St. Catherine of Sienna
- St. Simon of Stock
- St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr
- St. John Bosco
- St. Theresa of the Child Jesus
- St. Jude Thaddeus
- St. Michael the Archangel (relic stone from the cave in Gargano, Italy where St. Michael appeared and consecrated an altar)
- St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina
- St. Faustina Kowalska
- Blessed Anna Marie Taigi
- St. Martin de Porres
- St. Peter Claver
- St. Mary Magdalene
- St. Clare of Assisi
- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
- St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
- St. Dymphna
- St. Philomena
- St. Paul the Apostle
- St. Barnabas
- St. Philip, Apostle
- St. Bartholomew, Apostle
- St. James the Lesser
- St. Simon, the Zealot
- St. Christopher
- St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort
- Blessed Francisco Palau
- St. Camillus de Lellis, M.I.
- Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos
- St. Charbel Makhlouf
- St. John Neumann
- St. Thomas, Apostle
- St. James, the Greater, Apostle
- St. John the Evangelis
- St. Andrew
- Title of the Cross: Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews
- Staff of St. Joseph
- St. Vincent Ferrer
- 7 Blessed Martyrs of Thailand
- St. Vincent de Paul
- St. Catherine of Alexandria
- St. Barbara